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Bedtime Friendship Fiction

Mila shuddered as she clung to the cattail over hanging the river. She was a rabbit and could swim if she wanted to; but she was frightened of what lurked just under the surface. Vlad the Chomper floated as still as a bumpy green log, only his bulbous, lichen-colored eyes glared upwards at her. She knew that under the water his one hundred gnarly pointed teeth stuck out from his long, grinning, alligator snout.

Mila’s long back feet scrambled against the grassy bank, found hold, and propelled her upwards. She sputtered with fury at her nemesis, Inessa. Mila was pale tawny beige in color, her coat thick and tufted like mange in its in between stage, that of the freezing snowy winter and the yet to come warm spring sunshine. Inessa’s coat was black as coal, the same thick tufts were annoyingly pretty on her.

“Ha ha ha! Ole Vlad was just lickin his chops there!” Inessa sat up on her back feet and gloated. “You lose again.”

They’d been racing. From Boris the Owl’s tall green pine to the top of the bank where it was sandy and skidding to a stop was easily accomplished. This day, Inessa had skidded in first, sending a hail of pebbles into the still water by the shore, teasing Vlad awake. Mila skidded in second, tripped over her own foot, and flew out over the bank. 

She’d been lucky to catch a cattail instead of a reed. The fat brown head had halted her locomotion, whereas a reed offerred no such brake. She shuddered again. She always lost the races. She’d been born with extra-long feet that made her clumsy.

Mila shook her fur furiously like a big pale pom-pom baring long sharp front teeth. “I’ll beat you another way!” She hopped to Inessa, stood on her back feet, and swiped a paw at her enemy’s eyes. Inessa hissed and ducked, then pounced at Mila’s legs, taking them both to the ground. They rolled like a fluffy yin yang ball.

“Stop that foolishness right this instant!” It was Mila’s mother. Her white fur raised along her back in anger.

Inessa’s mother joined her and added, “You two should be friends. Oh, how it saddens me to see you two squabble so.

Mila and Inessa scrambled to their feet. Mila indignantly said, “Squabble? Babies squabble. She nearly killed me!”

Inessa said, “Pah! I didn’t even touch you! You tripped over your own---”

“Quiet!” Mila’s mother screeched.

Inessa’s mother said, “We are too busy to babysit you today…”

The two young rabbits growled.

“…you two will do all the preparations for this afternoon’s faire feast. Sweep the yard, reveal the crocuses…” Crocuses were the first spring flowers to emerge from the frozen earth. They were covered by the fallen maple and dogwood leaves; it was the rabbit’s responsibility to uncover them the morning of the Spring Solstice Faire. “…and serve the dishes.” The dishes were all variety of fresh young root vegetables and earthy spongey mushrooms.

“Aw mom. But that’ll take all day,” said Inessa. 

Mila concurred, “Yeah. We haven’t even found our acorns yet.”

Inessa’s mother said, “Well you should have thought of that before your morning’s mischief. Working together today will be good for you both.”

Mila and Inessa cringed as their mothers left to prepare the dishes. They huffed off to opposite sides of the meadow and unburdened the crocuses as quickly as they could. They swept the meadow clean of winter debris. When they were done, the meadow was a carpet of soft yellow grass surrounded by hundreds of hardy little flowers that resembled miniature tulips in every shade of purple, pink, and golden yellow.

They had only two hours to find the prize-winning acorn for The Biggest Acorn Challenge, the prize being a basket full of nuts and dried berries- enough to last an entire rabbit family the coming year.

`Inessa had won the year before, her acorn was as big as her head, while Mila’s had been only the size of her paw. Inessa had laughed at her and teased her for being so slow for a rabbit, making fun of her giant, ungainly back feet. She had been able to run farther along the river’s sunnier side where the acorns grew fatter.

Inessa took off towards the little cove where she’d found last year’s prize winner.

Mila tried to keep up but soon fell far behind. She huffed out of breath as she watched Inessa’s fluffy black tail vanish in the tall reeds along the riverbank. She stopped at an oak and peered up into the sparse brown branches. Amongst the budding new leaves, a fat acorn hung like an ornament on a Christmas tree. Rabbits can climb trees. However, Mila, like all the others of her breed, was born with acrophobia…a fear of heights. As she eyed the fat acorn she thought, ‘It is pretty big. But will it be big enough? Is it worth the climb?’ She shivered. ‘It’s so high up…’

A sudden crepitation of the branches startled her, dead brown leaves crinkled and showered her upturned face. She shook them off and opened her eyes. The acorn was gone. An old grey squirrel was pocketing the acorn into his stretchy cheeks. Mila’s anger dissolved as she observed the squirrel’s winter-skinny body. ‘I won’t hesitate to climb the next time…besides, if it fit in a squirrel’s cheek, it certainly wasn’t big enough to win.’

“Yo! Mister squirrel!”

The squirrel stopped his ascent, turned, and looked down, his cheek skin stretched taut like a huge fat tumor. “Mff?”

“From up there so high, can you see which way that black rabbit went?”

He looked up, stretching his neck through the prickly new jade green leaves. He said, “Mff mff’ and pointed north and up the river.

“Thanks!” Mila headed that way. 


Inessa found the cove she’d been looking for. It was sandy and sunny and there were grand, gnarled oaks along its edge. ‘There!’ she thought as she spotted the tree that had offered the award-winning nut the year before. ‘Hmmm, I’m not seeing any…

“Pssst. Hey lil Bun-Buns…” the voice was low and gravelly…and spooky. Inessa turned in alarm, her long ears stood straight up and rotated like radar dishes. The voice said, “Down here by zee vater…”

Inessa crept to the water’s edge. Vlad the Chomper! His evil grin fully visible above the gently rippling water and- ‘oh my!’- how long his body was, he was gi-normous! 

“Oh, lil Bun-Buns. I’m no threat to you. I’m so big I move very slow. You are so much quicker than I…”

“You lie! I’ve seen you chomp a deer, a big deer!”

“Zee deer was very foolish to come into river. I am slow on land is what I meant to say.”

“Hmmm. In any case, I’m not coming any closer---”

“Vell vell, that’s a shame. There eez no larger acorn in all the oaks in zee land, than that one zere.” Vlad gestured with his long mouth over-flowing with teeth towards the oak tree closest to the shore. 

Inessa crept closer to the tree and found that although it was far enough from the river’s bank- easy enough to bound out of Vlad’s chomp- its largest branch cantilevered out over the river.

At the end of the long branch was the nut of all nuts! It appeared as large as the nuts of fantasy stories her parents told her at bedtime; those nuts were called coco nuts. This acorn would be one the bunnies would talk of for generations…for eons…til the end of time itself. Her eyes grew huge and comically round, the whites showing in stark contrast in her black fur face.

From the bushes she had hidden in, came Mila’s snicker. “Tee hee hee.”

Inessa looked from her nemesis to the acorn and back. Mila saw where she was looking, her eyes grew just as round when she spied the giant acorn. Both rabbits scrambled up the tree, Inessa in the lead, Vlad forgotten. 

Mila made it to the branch five feet under the acorn, the only way to snatch it would be to jump.

Inessa crept along the acorn’s branch towards the acorn that was now swinging from side to side like a heavy, bottom-pointed pendulum.

Mila said softly, “No no no no…it’s going to fall.”

Inessa panicked at the thought and sped up her pace, causing the branch to droop and rock. She lost her footing and in a split second found herself hanging over the river with only her front paws wrapped around the branch, the acorn tauntingly dangled inches from her nose.

Mila gasped and held her breath. She thought she’d be elated at the thought of her enemy falling into Vlad’s gaping mouth, ‘oh how much easier my life would be.’ She looked down at the gator. His mouth was open in an impossibly wide V shape, his sharp teeth were shiny with spittle and his fat pink tongue undulated like an alien creature’s embryo sac curling and uncurling. ‘Distgusting.’ In her mind she saw blood and guts and black fur wet and ugly. In her mind she heard bones snapping like the fourth of July explosions the humans in the village were so entertained by. Her thoughts scared her in the same way the fireworks did in real life.

‘All I have to do is leap straight up and grab the acorn. The branch with shake and Inessa will fall. Easier thought than done. Ha.’ She realized how petty all their fights had been as she heard Inessa’s frightened mewling and the cries pierced her heart.

Inessa’s left paw cramped, and she screamed. Mila was surprised to hear herself scream along with her. ‘She’s going to fall for sure!’

Mila had a plan. Without another thought, she leapt straight up and grabbed the nut. She landed squarely on her big back feet with the acorn clutched to her chest. The branch above her surged and Inessa was flung towards the river. Vlad positioned himself lightning fast to where Inessa was falling.

Mila flung the enormous nut into the tooth-lined jaws. The nut wedged tightly in the jaws like a bowling ball in a steel trap. Inessa bounced off Vlad’s nose, splashed into the water, and swam swiftly towards the shore. By the time she reached it, Mila was there to help pull her out.

The bunnies scrambled up the bank. They watched in amazement and trembled with shock as Vlad’s entire muscular body writhed from side to side as he tried to dislodge the nut. Not only was it wedged in tight, but his teeth were sunk into the nut’s thick outer shell.

As the rabbit friends hopped through the oaks and into the forest, they heard a resounding ‘C-R-R-ACK!’ as the nut broke in two.


The rabbit children gathered around the nuts on display. The prize- winning acorn, belonged to wee brown Rudy, was slightly smaller than Mila’s head.

Mila and Inessa cleaned up the after-feast mess and congratulated Rudy on his win. He said to Inessa, “I didn’t think any of us had a chance against you again this year…”

The other children rabbits joined in:



“Yeah, what happened?” 

Inessa said, “this year, I received a much more valuable gift than a basket of nuts and fruits…”

Mila added, “As did I.”

November 25, 2022 21:03

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1 comment

Wendy Kaminski
16:17 Nov 28, 2022

Very sweet story! :)


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