Rabbit and Rooster
[Fairy tale improvisation with 2nd graders at Notre Dame des Victoires, 2014. See curriculum here.]
Once upon a time in a beautiful country rich with carrots, lettuce, and lush green grass Little Bunny hopped freely from field to meadow nibbling happily in the company of her rabbit friends. The delicious wild things pleased them all, but when they found crunchy fresh carrots they jumped for joy and feasted together.
On this splendid farmland of plenty lived a powerful dark horse who loved to eat carrots, lettuce, and grass as well.
One day Dark Horse had a hunger for only carrots and couldn’t find any at all. He searched all morning and found none.
He searched all afternoon and found none. He searched into the night and could not find one single carrot. Though there was grass and lettuce aplenty this horse wanted carrots and only carrots.
Each hour his belly was empty of carrots, it filled with anger. When at last he spied a herd of rabbits happily munching on the last of the carrots, Dark Horse reared up in a greedy rage.
He pounded the earth with his mighty hooves to scare those rabbits away. Suddenly, the fertile ground turned to stone.
Dark horse galloped toward those rabbits. Each hoof beat turned the ground below to stone. All the growing things died beneath his fury.
The rabbits scattered like leaves blown in the wind. Each looked for shelter, but every which way they ran the landscape was transformed into gray stone. Grass, bushes and trees all died. Rabbit holes were stone. There was no place to hide.
Little Bunny ran so far and so fast that she came at last to a sandy beach where no rabbit had ever tried to live. Alone and afraid she spied a large creamy white shell that looked just like her burrow. She squeezed herself inside with a pounding heart; grateful to have a safe place to rest at last.
Little did she know that an earthworm was hiding there too, or that hungry Red (and Blue?) Rooster was in pursuit of his dinner.
Red Rooster pecked, pecked and pecked at the shell. His beak, sharp as a spear, pierced Little Bunny’s back ( head?). She screamed in pain then wriggled out onto the sand.
Red Rooster could not have been more astonished. In all his years, he had never seen his rich farmland turned to stone, nor ever been to a beach, nor seen a rabbit emerge from a shell.
Now there was Little Bunny weeping in pain with a wound on her furry back (head?).
Red Rooster could have explained that it was an accident and that he never meant to hurt Little Bunny, so it wasn’t his fault.
But, no, not this Rooster. He made no excuses. He sincerely apologized once, twice, three times until his kindness soothed Little Bunny.
From that day onward this unusual pair became the best of friends. Both had to find a way to survive in a world transformed to stone. They learned to depend upon one another.
Red Rooster promised to search the barren earth to find something for Little Bunny to eat. Little Bunny swore to do her best to help Red Rooster.
Every evening at dusk the two friends would meet at the shell. Red Rooster brought food to Little Bunny from an abandoned barn ( castle?). Little Bunny offered seaweed and oyster shells to Red Rooster. To his surprise and delight this sea side food was delicious and gave him strength.
Every evening under the stars the two friends told stories to one another. So it went for three years.
Of all the stories Red Rooster told, Little Bunny liked one best of all. She would ask for the Golden Snake story over and over again. She never tired of hearing it.
Red Rooster began the story exactly the same way every time. “My grandfather told me there was once a cave used for hidden treasure by long ago pirate kings. In the cave was a glowing orange star-box. In the box was a magical golden snake that had the power of transformation.”
Little Bunny loved that story so much that she could picture every detail. During the day when Red Rooster was gone, Little Bunny explored the beach looking for bits of food for her friend. She was never bored because the story kept her company.
One day when the tide was very low, Little Bunny saw a cave!
It looked exactly like the one from the story. Could it be? She was so excited that she could hardly wait to tell Red Rooster. She wished dusk would come quickly.
Meanwhile, Red Rooster had made his daily journey across the dead gray stone landscape to the barn. On this day it was empty. He knew he had to return to his best friend with sad and hungry news. He wished dusk would come slowly.
Red Rooster was so preoccupied with his own worries that he didn’t notice Dark Horse hidden behind a row of stone trees.
Dark Horse was hungry and lonely too. Of course all his food had also turned to stone. When he saw Red Rooster looking healthy and strong, Dark Horse snuck up behind and quietly followed to see why.
So it was that the Dark Horse blended with the dark night to hear Little Bunny exclaiming the news about discovering the real cave from Grand Father Rooster’s story.
Once Dark Horse heard of the magical golden snake, his greed for the magic sent him galloping off before hearing all the important details of just how to open the orange star-box. That was a big mistake.
Little Bunny thumped a drum beat on the hard stone earth to call all the other rabbits to help. They came running.
Red Rooster crowed a song so full of sadness and need that all the other roosters, hens and chickens came fluttering to his aide.
What a race it was. Rabbits and chickens and Dark Horse crowded into the pirate cave at once to see not only one box but hundreds of treasure boxes stacked from cave floor to cave ceiling.
Dark Horse tore through the boxes kicking open and smashing one after another.
Red Rooster and Little Bunny watched Dark Horse’s destruction in horror, but only they knew how to recognize the truly magical box.
When one box glowed with warm orange light Red Rooster gave a mighty crow. All the chickens cackled, and fluttered around Dark Horse, while the rabbits hopped in circles around his hooves. Dark Horse was unable to move an inch.
Red Rooster was so excited to have found the orange star-box that he forgot what to do next. He panicked. Little Bunny did not. She recalled every single word.
She calmly guided Red Rooster. She told him to peck gently on the star symbols. Left to right from top corner to bottom. Right to left from bottom corner to top. The two stars in the middle had to be touched inside out.
The orange star-box flew open and out slithered the beautiful golden healing snake.
Just as suddenly, a great whirlwind of shimmering light rose up and out of the box like a mighty tower.
It spun around Dark Horse. Chickens and rabbits froze in fear at the sight of Dark Horse shrinking and shrinking until it was sucked into the orange star-box. The box slammed shut. All its light faded away.
Where had the snake gone?
The bewildered animals emerged from the cave. The first thing the rabbits noticed was the smell of lush green grass. They thumped sounds of joy. All but Little Bunny hopped off the sandy beach toward a living forest rich with blooming trees, berry bushes and acres of new grass. Lettuce, grass and carrots once again!
Red Rooster crowed victorious.
All the chickens clucked and danced in chorus then rushed off to feast on berries and seeds and corn.
Last to leave the beach were Red Rooster and Little Bunny.
Only they knew the whole story.
They remained the best of friends. They met every evening at dusk to share a meal. They told each other stories every night under the stars.
Grateful for their beautiful country abundant with food for all, they lived happily ever after.