Epilogue: Tooth and Claw
Underground. Valentine’s Day. For weeks, anxiety unrelenting had shattered the Easter Bunny’s nerves. He had hopped about his room, sniffing aimlessly at the dirt, staring for hours at a bent piece of straw. Once he had peeked in at Petunia, only to pull back in disgust. He hadn’t dared venture into the rest of his domain.
Upon waking that morning, however, anxiety had given way to calm. It was a calm as deep as sadness. He left his room at last but kept to the confines of the burrow. Everything, down to his hens and the blush-colored eggs they laid, seemed glazed with a patina of resignation and regret. He knew what was coming and welcomed it.
When God’s footsteps first shook the earth, he went to his room, found its precise centerpoint, and hunkered down with as much humility as he could muster. Trees toppled. God’s approaching tread matched the steady dead-march of his heart.
The Easter Bunny glanced up at the domed roof. A dark crack opened along the arc of the outer wall. Then the roof lifted from the burrow like an earthen shield. He blinked away a thin trickle of dirt that fell as the roof rose and daylight flooded in. Shafts of sun streaked through settling dust. But what captured his eye was the towering figure of God the Father, Who propped the giant disc of earth against an oak tree and, turning His gaze on him, sadly shook His head. “What, Mister Ophion, am I to do with you?”
“I beg your—?”
“This I believe is yours.” God gestured north and the Easter Bunny could see dried egg remains lift from a distant mirror, defy space and time, and come together at God’s fingertips like a jellybean. God stooped and laid it at the Easter Bunny’s feet. “To voyeurism, which I shut My eyes to, you have added rape, an act intolerable in mortal men, let alone in an immortal entrusted with spreading happiness on the anniversary of My Son’s resurrection.”
“But I can expl—”
“Further, you have seen fit to lend aid and comfort to the Tooth Fairy. Sinning by omission, you have helped her mutilate and torment a child, devour that child’s mother before her eyes, and dishonor her father’s corpse.”
“It was her fault. The Tooth Fairy. She forced me into it.”
The tip of God’s index finger stopped his lips. It stung like iodine on a cut. “No more lies, Mister Ophion, Mister Boreas, Mister North Wind. Pause a moment. Pause and think about your misdeeds. Then you may confess your sins and beg, if you will, for mercy.”
His lips were free again.
God sat upon the lip of earth, His feet resting inside the burrow near where Santa Claus had burst in. The Easter Bunny began to ask Him why He had called him such peculiar names, but the stern look in the Father’s eyes stopped him.
He paused. He pondered. One by one, he named his sins and humbly begged God’s pardon for them. Then he raised his head. “But it’s just not fair. Really it isn’t.”
“What’s not fair, My beloved?”
The sweetness in God’s voice broke his heart, but he went on. “When You created me, Lord, You chose to make me a rabbit. If You’d only kept to scale—please forgive my presumption—I might have mated with mortal rabbits and been content. Instead, You made me an order of magnitude larger than normal. Even that wouldn’t be a problem if I had a mate, a real Petunia just my size to love and honor and fill with seed. Instead I roam the world alone. And, dear Lord, as You well know, my sex drive, like everything else about me, is ten times that of a normal rabbit’s. Lately, I fear, it has overwhelmed my better judgment.”
“And also, well,” he looked away, embarrassed, “this may sound funny, but I’ve had the feeling lately that You may have made me forget things about myself, that there’s more to my past than You’ve let on, that maybe I—dear God forgive me, it seems so absurd now that You’re here—that maybe I was the true creator of the world way back when and somehow You snatched that position from me.”
“Interesting. Very interesting.”
“Of course it’s all nonsense. I see that now. You needn’t say a word about it. But this mate thing, oh dear Father, it’s that that drives me buggy.”
God reached down and lifted the Easter Bunny into His lap. The folds of His robe felt like a soft patch of pure heaven against his underbelly. The hand that stroked him made tears of joy start in his eyes. “I understand,” said God. “And I see how to make things right.”
Yes! thought the Easter Bunny. God’s going to bring my Petunia to life, just like Pinocchio. Or He’ll scrap her and fashion from His infinite love a fresh new mate, white and soft and fluffy, always eager for me to top her. Or maybe He’ll fill the burrow with dozens of does. Hell, I can handle scores of the twitchy-tailed beauties. Nay, hundred, thousands. Bring them on. Let legions of lovers smother me in kissyfur.
But God’s hand covered his eyes and at once he saw straight back to the dawn of creation. “All begins in Chaos,” said God. “But soon the goddess Eurynome rises out of it like naked love, full-thighed, full-breasted, her hair tumbling in wanton ringlets about her shoulders. She tries to rest her feet but finds nothing save herself and Chaos. Look there, her long lithe hands part sky and sea. She dances lonely upon the waves.”
The Easter Bunny thumped against God’s palm, snared by the image’s fleshy perfection. “And there you are, the north wind she stirs up as she moves. She wheels about and snatches you up in her hands, rubbing you thick and tight until, behold, you become the serpent Ophion. See, she holds you close, dancing, ever dancing. Coiling about her limbs, you copulate with her.”
He saw it all and remembered, even as God spoke it. He saw Eurynome, goddess of all things, turn herself into a dove, brood upon the waves, lay the universal egg. He saw himself coil sevenfold about the egg and hatch it and stare in amazement as all of creation, all the stars and planets, everything upon the earth and under the sea and in the firmament, leapt forth and took its place, pushing Chaos all atumble into oblivion. He saw too how it had gone bad: his boast that he alone had created all things, the heel she planted upon his head, the loss of his fangs, and his banishment to the dark places beneath the earth.
Now God brought the vision forward to the point of his rebirth as the Easter Bunny. The distant brooding of innumerable hens. The sound of his Creator’s voice instructing him, his leaps into the air—all of it as he had always remembered it. But then there befell a memory splice: God paused in the past, as He had never done before, and looked about the burrow, His eyes full of prescience. He stretched out His hand, set a finger between the Easter Bunny’s back legs, and—like a cartoonist erasing a smudge—massaged away the genitals, leaving only one small hole to pee with. Then the splice was over, and it wasn’t a splice at all but the Easter Bunny’s sole memory of his creation.
God lifted His hand from His creature’s eyes and set him down in the burrow. “Does that clear up our little problem?”
“Yes,” he said, confused. He couldn’t begin to guess what problem the Father was talking about.
“Good,” said God. “By the way, you’ve been doing a wonderful job with your Easter deliveries and a wonderful job managing things here. Keep up the good work.”
Exhilaration filled his heart. “I do it all,” he said, “to please You and to make the children happy.”
“Bless you, My beloved,” said God, and blest he felt. “Now be at peace. It’s time I paid a visit to another of My servants, one not so contrite and cooperative, I fear, as you have been.”
The Easter Bunny knew He was talking about the Tooth Fairy, though he had no idea how he knew. But he beamed up at the Lord and watched the roof close out the sunshine and the crack reseal itself, wondering what on earth the thing made of pellets over wire mesh was doing in the room next to his. When he had hauled it outside, crushed it with heavy stones, and skritched dirt over it, he headed back to the laying house to see how things were going with the hens.
Easter was little more than a month away and he was determined it would be the best Easter ever.
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