Adventure Friendship Fantasy

Henry Fluffypaws did not feel like gardening that day. He’d woken up on the right side of the bed, next to his beautiful wife, and with the scent of flowers wafting into his window. He had absolutely no motivation to disturb the beautiful moment he was experiencing. But Mr. Marsden would want his hedges perfectly trimmed as usual. He sniffed angrily at Henry whenever there was a branch or two un-snipped. Hootie Marsden terrified Henry, and he did not dare disobey his wishes. So Henry took one last look at his sleeping wife, gave her a kiss on the head, and hopped out of bed as carefully as he could. He put on a light green vest with a decorative flower his wife, Sophie, had sewn on and put on his gardening hat. Hopping out of their room, he grabbed his toolkit, stuck a carrot in his mouth, and hopped out the door, being sure to lock it carefully behind him. He bounded up the path to work.

When he approached the Marsden Mansion, Mr. Marsden was perched on the black gate with the usual look of disdain Henry had begun to expect daily. Marsden’s striking yellow eyes pierced holes in Henry’s soul. 

“Good day, Sir. Would you like me to plant some more daffodils today?” Henry asked.

“Yes,” Marsden said in a deep tone.

“Will do, Mr. Marsden! It’s good to see you today,” Henry commented with a quick smile, jumping into the yard and setting down his tools. What he saw was truly shocking. The garden was destroyed. There were holes of varying sizes all over the green, statues upside down in the petunias, and succulents torn out and strewn across the lawn. Henry raised a paw slowly to his mouth. Slowly, he bounded back over to Mr. Marsden.

“Sir- Do you know what has happened? The garden is ruined!” he exclaimed, getting upset.

“I know,” Marsden replied, casually preening his wing feathers, “I had an… incident, last night.”

Henry stared at Marsden in disbelief. He was a proper owl, known throughout academia as a wise man. Although he was mean as a wasp, Henry could not believe he would be capable of this.

“Okay… I will fix it for you Sir. I am sorry about your accident,” Henry said, and hopped over to start fixing the garden. He worked through the day, filling holes, having new grass seeds delivered, adjusting and cleaning statues, and planting all new flowers to replace those that were destroyed. Pips, the delivery woman who brought him his flowers, took a peek inside the mansion’s grounds and put a wing over her mouth. Henry gave her a knowing look, and she flew away. It was nighttime before he knew it, and he realized it was much past time for him to be getting home.

“Well, Sir, it is time for me to get going. I will be back tomorrow to finish fixing this,” Henry said, wiping sweat from his fuzzy white brow.

“Acceptable work,” Marsden responded, barely looking at the bunny whose normally white coat was almost fully coated with dirt and mud.

“Thank you, Sir. See you tomorrow!” Henry said, and headed home with his tools. As he bounded along the trail, he heard noises in the woods and picked up his pace. Nighttime outside was no place for bunnies, especially in the summer when all the dangerous animals were out of hibernation.

“Grrrr,” he heard from a nearby bush. He ran even faster, and stopped after he had run for three minutes to catch his breath. He rested his paws on the ground, wheezing. Just then, he heard an obvious rustling.


Out from behind him leapt a humongous gray wolf, snarling and smiling at him. Henry’s eyes went wide, and he was off in a flash. The wolf chased him down the path, but did not get very far before something large and shadowy swept down and grabbed it. It stopped for a few seconds, and whined loudly. The shadowy figure descended again, this time scratching the wolf’s eye directly. Henry caught a glimpse of the figure’s face - glowing yellow eyes. His nose twitched, and he recognized the scent of Mr. Marsden nearby. 

“Go!” yelled the mysterious do-gooder, and Henry took off at the speed of light. Behind him, he heard howling. He assumed more wolves would be coming, and hesitated. He turned back around. In one swift movement he had removed a large shovel from a sheath on his back. He zoomed towards the ongoing scuffle.


The shovel’s head made contact with the wolf’s, and the large animal snarled furiously, turning to make one-eyed eye contact with Henry. Not standing down, Henry pointed the shovel at the monstrous animal. Seconds later, the shadow swooped down once again, lashing out at the wolf’s eyes with razor-sharp talons. Just then, there was more rustling in the bushes. Suddenly, Henry felt himself being grabbed by the ears, and saw the ground begin to get farther away beneath him. He squealed, then realized he was being pulled away from the danger. Looking up, he finally saw for sure that the shadowy figure was, indeed, Mr. Marsden. Wide-eyed, he stayed quiet until Mr. Marsden descended near Henry’s cottage. 

When they landed, Henry clumsily scuttled out from the grasp of Marsden’s talons. Marsden brushed off his feathers haughtily, and gave Henry one of his classic stern looks, as though nothing had occurred.

“Sir Marsden, that was incredible! Thank you so very much, I owe you my life!” Henry sputtered, tripping over his words.

“You do not owe me anything,” Marsden replied, “So long as you do not quit as my gardener as you have planned to do.”

How did he know that? Henry thought, mouth agape.

“I have to admit something to you, Henry. I follow you home every night. I do not mean any disrespect, but I know how it is for prey animals at night. Which is why I need to know that you make it home safely,” Marsden said solemnly.

Henry stood, shocked to his core, at the entrance to his quaint home. His boss, who had never even called him by his first name before this moment, had cared enough about his safety to protect him.

“Sir… I am… astonished! Thank you so much. I had no idea you did this,” he said, scratching his head.

“It is the bare minimum,” said Marsden, “especially since some predatory animals do terrifying things in their sleep. The garden shows us an example of what happens when you have an untreated sleep disorder. Sleep-hunting. Hah!” Henry blinked. He had never heard Mr. Marsden laugh before.

“Sleep disorder? Well you never mentioned that before. My wife is a nurse and works for a hospital that has a wonderful outpatient sleep clinic. I will give you her card!” Henry said excitedly.

“Oh my. Thank you, Henry. I never knew that.” Marsden responded. The two stood in a comfortable silence for about ten seconds.

“Well, I had better get back to my house,” Mr. Marsden said. Henry detected a note of sadness in his voice.

“Sir, I do not know if this is strange to ask, but would you like to come in and eat dinner with me and my wife?” Henry asked.

“Oh I could not possibly ask you to do that-” Marsden began.

“Do not mention it. You saved my life, Sir. I am indebted to you,” Henry responded.

“Again, it was the least I could do.” Marsden said. He thought for a few seconds, and he saw something warm shine in his eyes.

“I would love to join you and your wife for dinner. If it is not too late,” Marsden said, almost shyly.

“Come on in!” Henry said, and he opened the door for the owl. Marsden ducked his head and carefully walked into the Fluffypaws’ home, trying not to bonk his head on the ceiling.

“Sweetheart! We have a visitor!” Henry hollered.

“Who is it?” Sophie replied, walking out of the kitchen and wiping her hands on a pastel yellow washcloth that had seen better days. Her eyes widened.

“Hello, Ma’am,” Marsden said cordially. He bowed a little bit as he spoke.

“Sophie, this is Mr. Marsden. Mr. Marsden, this is Sophie,” Henry said, amused.

“Hello,” Sophie said, smiling with a little wave.

“Hello, Sophie,” Mr. Marsden said awkwardly, with an unnatural smile.

“Won’t you please sit down?” Sophie said, and Marsden attempted to sit in one of their bunny-sized chairs. It creaked under him. The three laughed, and Henry went into the kitchen to check on the bread he had made. Still soft! He sliced it and served it to Mr. Marsden with soft butter from their refrigerator.

Henry, Sophie, and Mr. Marsden had a lovely night. Mr. Marsden recanted stories from his days in the war, and Sophie and Henry listened attentively. He spoke of his wife, kids that Henry previously did not know existed, and how he enjoyed the marigolds that Henry planted the most.

This nightly hangout became a biweekly event, and the three became great friends. Sophie helped Marsden get an appointment at the sleep clinic, and his sleep disorder was treated. He seemed to be in better spirits every day from then on, and threw magnificent parties in his house. He even met a woman who he loved! Henry was forever grateful that he had chosen to go to work that day. He would never have made his dearest friend out of his least favorite person.

April 22, 2022 20:12

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.