‘Twas the night before Easter.
Mamma and I were just settling our brains for a long Spring nap, she in her kerchief and I in my cap. This was because it was, as I’ve said, Spring, when Mamma refuses to put the central heating on, despite the fact that Spring in Ireland is just Winter with longer evenings.
Then, from out on the lawn, there arose a clatter. I got out of bed, opened the front door and looked out, but could see nothing. But as I drew in my head (I’m an architect, and was thinking about a project I was working on) and was turning around, down the chimney came a rabbit, not with a bound, but with part of a pizza box stuck to his fur.
“What sort of gobshite,” he said, “leaves his bins in the dark at the side of his house?”
I stared at him. He was a normal sized rabbit, and between his front paws he carried three Easter eggs, the middle one pinned between the other two, making it look as if he was playing a chocolate accordion.
“You’re … the Easter Bunny?” I stammered.
He nodded, and smiled slightly.
“I thought there was no such thing,” I said, before I could stop myself.
The smile died. “I see,” he said, icily. “And where did you think your kids’ Easter eggs came from?”
“I never really thought about it,” I said. “I just wake up on Easter Sunday and they’re there. I always assumed Mamma had bought them and left them out.” (I later discovered that Mamma thought that I’d been doing it).
The Easter Bunny’s eyes narrowed. “Your wife’s name is Mamma?” he said.
I blushed. “Her name’s Mia,” I said, “and she loves Abba.”
It’s hard to describe how small you feel when a rabbit gives you a look of scorn. He dumped the eggs onto the hearth and turned back towards the chimney.
“Look,” I said, “I’m sorry I didn’t believe in you before.”
He turned back quickly.
“No,” he snapped, “but you believe in him, don’t you?”
“Him?” I asked.
“You know who I mean,” said the Easter Bunny. “Everyone believes in him. Everyone thinks he’s great.”
“Well, he is,” I said. “He delivers toys to all the children, all in one night.”
“Indeed he does,” said the Easter Bunny. “On his magic sleigh, pulled by reindeer. I deliver eggs to all the children, also all in one night, but on foot.”
“How do you manage that?” I asked, impressed.
“I’m a very fast runner,” he said. “That’s what we’re famous for, us rabbits.”
“I thought that was hares,” I said.
“Oh, our slowcoach cousins,” he said witheringly. “Tell me, have you ever heard the tale of the rabbit being beaten by the tortoise?”
“Er, no,” I replied.
“Exactly,” he said.
“Do you have elves like him, working all year to make all the eggs?”
“The wife and kids help me,” he said. “We started last Tuesday.”
“Wow,” I said. “That’s incredible.”
“Not really,” he said. “I have forty-two thousand three hundred and ninety-two kids.” I stared at him. “That’s the other thing we’re famous for,” he admitted.
“So you get the whole thing done in a week?”
“Yes” he said. “And yet I get no recognition for it. No-one writes songs about me coming to town. No-one leaves out a glass of sherry and a lettuce leaf for me. No-one writes me letters, telling me what they want for Easter.”
“Not much point,” I said. “They’d all just say “Eggs”.”
“True,” he admitted. He sighed, long and deep, the sigh of someone who has been toiling for a very, very long time. I felt sorry for him.
“If it makes you feel any better,” I said, “I think you’re doing a great job.”
He gave a small smile, then turned towards the hearth. Yet again, though, he paused, and turned. He held another Easter Egg in his paw. I have no idea where it came from, and have resolved never to think too deeply about it. He handed it to me.
“Here,” he said. “This one is for you.”
“Thanks,” I said, touched.
He laid a paw alongside his nose and, giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
“Happy Easter to all,” I said softly, “and to all a Good Night.”
His head appeared back into view, upside down.
“Ho, ho, bloody ho,” he said.