It was still dark when he arrived home, just before seven on this warm morning in April. He was tired but he bounced into the kitchen of his aging home with excitement, allowing the wooden door to swing shut behind him, shaking the foundation of that very house. Normally he would have been more considerate given that his wife and twenty-two kids were probably still asleep, but this morning they could use a wake-up call, whether they wanted to or not. It had been a long night for Pete, his longest of the year, and he wasn’t able to get through it as easily as he once had as a younger man, fifteen years earlier, but since it was the most important night at work each year, he went about his business without complaint. He could’ve complained, sure, but the higher-ups in the company were already looking for a reason to get rid of him, and he was not about to give them plausible reason for termination.
The administration had stripped him of the mall circuit last year, telling Pete in a not so private manner, in the middle of a shopping mall the Saturday before Easter, that he freaked out the kids, and nobody liked him. It was true that his eyes were red, appearing as if filled with blood, but that was just how he was born. He was able to seem less threatening over the years with his wide smile that made his whiskers twitch with joy, but I guess lately he just hasn’t had much of a reason to be happy. A job he used to love was becoming a monotonous necessity to provide for his children and wife who barely spoke to him anymore. When they’d first met he told her his dreams of becoming an engineer, and these high ambitions are what attracted her to Pete in the first place, but after they got married and she became Mrs. Cottontail, he gave up school for the old family profession, becoming a certified Easter Bunny.
Church started at eight, but before they went, Pete gathered all of his children around him in the living room and told them the story of the Easter Bunnies while they munched on some chocolate that he had saved for them throughout the night, while his wife stood in the corner and rolled her eyes. It was up to the most important species in the animal kingdom to keep the magic of the holiday alive, and Pete Cottontail took it as an awesome responsibility and a great honor to be able to serve the world in this way. Normally he didn’t care whether or not the family got to church on time, a near impossible task for a family of his size, but on Easter Sunday Pete insisted on being on time, and if possible a few minutes early. Despite his creepy red eyes and the general look of sadness on his face, Easter was the one day of the year when people didn’t shy away from him, refusing to make eye contact with him. The kids were forced to tell him thank you for the baskets full of candy that he brought for them, and the parents gave him an appreciative pat on the back for making their kids so happy. As he stood in the church, surrounded by all of the people who were pretending to like him, a hint of a smile crept across the rabbit’s face. It was a good day.