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Home: The Toast

Previously in this series: If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.

Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
This was his first mistake.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
I would swallow my own heart before I let you escape.”

“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a fish in a trout stream
and I will swim away from you.”
The little bunny had a small and a desperate magic.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,
“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.
I will always be bigger than you.
I will always be stronger than you.
Your magic is no match for my magic.”

“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.
Better to be a stone and insensible to all things
than to stay here with you. Better to be a stone.”

“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,”
said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber,
and I will climb to where you are.
I will wake you from your stone-sleep
and I will make you open your eyes to me.”

“If you become a mountain climber,”
said the little bunny,
“I will be a crocus in a hidden garden.
I will grow, I will grow, I will grow.
I will grow without you. I will feel
the sun on my face and I will thrive.”

“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,”
said his mother, “I will be a gardener.
And I will find you. And I will tear you up
by the roots. The soil is not a mother to you
like I am a mother to you. You will find no
purchase there. I will not let you grow
without me. I will see you rootless first.”

“If you are a gardener and find me,”
said the little bunny, “I will be a bird
and fly away from you.” It was a lie
and they both knew it. He had no such power.

“If you become a bird and fly away from me,”
said his mother, who had already won and who was
never kind in victory, never soft to the defeated.
“I will be a tree that you come home to.
I will become every tree in the forest.
I will be everything that looks like escape,
every branch that carries with it the hope of rest.
You will look for freedom and find only me.
I will always be bigger than you.
I will always be stronger than you.
Your magic is no match for my magic.”

“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny,
“I will become a little sailboat,
and I will sail away from you.
And if I founder, or am marooned,
if I am swallowed by a wave and become
bride to the sea, it will be better for me.
I will find rest on the cool floors of the ocean.”

“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,”
said his mother, “I will become the wind
and blow you where I want you to go.
I will give you no rest. I will never relent.
I will be trade winds and doldrums alike,
and I will pursue you with torments and storms
From the top of the world to the bottom,
and you will never know a moment’s peace.
I would swallow my own heart before I let you escape.”

“If you become the wind and blow me,” said the little bunny,
“I will join a circus and fly away on a flying trapeze.”

“If you go flying on a flying trapeze,” said his mother,
“I will be a tightrope walker,
and I will walk across the air to you.
I will hunt you wherever you go, and I will
tear you down from the sky and bring you here.”

“If you become a tightrope walker and walk across the air,”
said the bunny, “I will become a little boy
and run into a house. I will give up all my magic,
and become human, and grow old, and die, to be gone from you.”

“If you become a little boy and run into a house,”
said the mother bunny, “I will become your mother
and catch you in my arms.”

“You are not a true mother to me,” said the bunny.

“I am your only mother,” said his mother.

“Ahhh,” said the bunny, “I might just as well
stay where I am.”

And so he did.

“Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny.

He did not want it, but there was no one else who would feed him, so he took what she had to offer and he ate it.

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