Nanoprep 2019 Day 7: Fluff the Bunny
By Robin de Voh on 2019-10-14
Fluff was named ironically. He'd hated his name since he realized why he'd been named it. Of all the bunnies, he was the odd one out. They all had soft fur. They looked like regular bunnies. They were normal.
He was not. He had hardly any hair. His pink skin had patches of hairs, but they were curly and didn't cover the skin enough to be called fur at all. And he had never been allowed to forget it.
Joy had always taken his side, however. She was nice. They had been friends since he'd showed up for group teaching -- as provided by Mr. Owl, the wisest of all animals -- and nobody had wanted to play with him. The others had mocked him for looking different, and he had gotten very sad, very quickly.
She had come over and put her paw around him. She'd told him there was nothing wrong with him, and if he wanted, they could be friends.
Fluff had agreed very quickly, drying his eyes with his paws. He smeared the tears across his face, having no fur to absorb them.
Over the years, he'd gotten to know others, and eventually they had accepted him too. But they would look at him differently from time to time, and he'd be reminded.
He was different. He'd always be different.
In the winters, he had to stay inside, because he got too cold. In the summers, he would burn, so he would stay in the shadow. He felt most normal during spring and autumn, when the weather was fair but not extreme.
And for moments, just moments, he would forget he was different.
Change was coming, but he had not known it.
It was the last year of group teaching, the last year they were considered children and not adults. His parents had impressed upon him to learn as much as he could, since after this year, he would have to go out on his own and be independent. Start a family if he could -- something he severely doubted -- and live his own life.
One day, after group teaching was done, they went out into the forest. It was spring, and the sun wasn't too hot, so he was doing okay. They were darting around, playing with sticks and bugs.
Then a small shout from behind a small hill.
"Guys!" it went. It was Scruff, named for his scruffy but still full fur.
"Come see this!"
They all hopped over and as they went over the small hill they saw something. They didn't know what it was, and Scruff immediately admitted he didn't know either.
It was white, round and about the size of their heads. It had black somethings on the side, but they had no idea what it was.
"What is it?" Joy asked.
"It's a thing," Scruff said, hopping closer to it.
"What kind of thing?" Fluff asked.
"No idea," One-eye said.
Joy hopped over and pushed it with her nose.
"It doesn't do anything," she said, looking back at the rest.
"We should ask Mr. Owl," Scruff said.
"We should!" everyone agreed.
They pushed the white something along, though troublesome it was, to their burrows. Once they got there, they rested for a bit, before hopping over to where Mr. Owl had his nest in a hole inside a big tree trunk.
"Mr. Owl!" One-eye said excitedly up towards the nest.
"Hoot! Yes?" a wise-sounding voice came from inside the tree.
"We've got a thing!" Scruff said, also excitedly.
"Oh? What kind of thing?" Mr. Owl said, as he peeked his face out of the hole.
"A white thing!" Joy added.
Mr. Owl came fully out of his nest now, stretched his feathers and looked down. He cocked his head sideways, before leaning forwards and gliding down onto the ground.
"Ah, this is human," he said knowingly, hopping around. "And these, my good children, are letters."
"Letter?" Fluff asked.
"Letters, multiple," Mr. Owl said. "Humans use them to put their words on things."
"Words... On things?" Fluff asked, looking confused.
"Yes. We speak. They speak and sometimes do this. To preserve the words they speak, beyond when they speak them."
"Ah," Joy said, not fully understanding.
She looked at her friends and saw she wasn't the only one.
Mr. Owl looked at the black marks for a while. "I can read this," he said.
He turned to Fluff for a second. This made Fluff nervous. He turned his head back to the white thing.
"Help me open this," he said. "My claws aren't good at this, your paws will help."
Scruff and One-eye hopped over.
"Be careful! Do not let it touch you!" Mr. Owl said, staring at them with huge eyes intently.
They nodded. Very carefully they followed Mr. Owl's instructions. "Use your paws to grab the... Yes, that. Now twist it. Now hop away!"
A liquid poured out of the white something, and it stung their eyes. They blinked and hopped further away from it. Mr. Owl did the same.
"Ow, ow," he went, his large eyes watering.
After blinking a lot and looking up, he turned back to Fluff.
"You, boy," he said. "You've always been different, haven't you?"
Fluff looked away, ashamed.
"Yes..." he eventually said, quietly.
Mr. Owl cocked his head.
"Time for that to change. Roll around in that stinky water. And make sure it touches all of you," he said.
"What? But it stinks!" Joy said.
"Yes, but if I understand the human markings," he said as he paused to read them once more, "then this is good for you. I promise."
Fluff looked at Joy, who looked as nervous as he did. But Joy nodded. Mr. Owl was wise. He had taught them everything they knew, and he'd never been wrong about anything ever.
"Do it, Fluff," she said as she nodded to him.
Fluff sighed and nodded back. If Joy said so, and Mr. Owl said so, then he had to.
He took a deep breath, held it and hopped over to the stinky water. He lay down in it, then rolled around fiercely and fully. He felt it touch and sting his skin, and eventually he knew he had covered himself fully in it.
He hopped away.
"Can I wash it off? It hurts a bit!" he said, frantically moving his backside to fling off any residue.
"Yes, go wash it off," Mr. Owl said.
He hopped off to the stream, Joy following in his wake. He jumped into the shallow end and wriggled until the stinging stopped.
"How does it feel?" Joy asked him.
"It's okay now," he said as he lay down in the water and closed his eyes for a bit.
"I wonder what it is," Joy added.
"Good for me," Fluff said, smiling. "Mr. Owl wouldn't lie."
They went back to the burrows after a while.
"See you tomorrow, sleep well," Mr. Owl said to Fluff, blinking one of his eyes. Fluff and Joy said goodbye and went to their homes.
The morning after, Fluff woke up and could not believe his eyes.
He looked at his own body, and saw no pink skin with scraggly bits of hair. He saw a brown-with-white fur, full, shiny and soft, and he cried.
His tears rolled from his eyes onto his fur, which absorbed and got wet, but they didn't roll down his face like they used to.
He hopped out of bed and looked for his parents.
When they saw him, they all cried.
Then he hopped outside and found his friends. Joy cried, One-eye was simply silent, and Scruff was jealous.
When the group teaching day started, Mr. Owl swooped down and saw Fluff.
"Well, don't you look good," he said happily.
"How did you know the stinky water would do this to me?"
"The human marks, the letters. It said what it is and does."
"What was it, Mr. Owl?"
Mr. Owl cocked his head sideways as he tried to reproduce the odd sounds of human speech.