Finding Pepper

Our house sat in the middle of a hill, at the edge before the slope turned sharp.  In that nook, off to the side, a large tree gave shelter to two structures: our dog’s house and our rabbit’s pen.  Misty, our Brittany spaniel, happily shared her space with the two bunnies I called my own.  One was a white ball of fluff who liked to share her carrots with me; her name was Snowball.  The other was covered with black and white speckled fur, earning him the name Pepper. Each day I would run up the hill after school to pet all three, sneaking them treats as often as I could get away with.  I would grab a few biscuits for Misty, and claim the carrots were for me, though I think Mom knew better.

One day, set to follow my routine, I made a dash for the fridge to grab a handful of carrots and was on my way to the back door when my father stopped me.

“Maggie,” he said, “put the carrots back.  Then come over here.”

Slumping my shoulders, I did as I was told, mumbling under my breath.  I came over to where my dad was, and he picked me up to sit on his lap.

“Something happened last night, Maggie,” he said.  “You know how sometimes other dogs come into the yard?”  I nodded.  “Well, last night some dogs got into the bunny cage.”

“Are they alright?” I asked.  “They didn’t get hurt did they?”

“Snowball’s fine.  She hid in a corner that the dogs couldn’t get to.  Misty barked and barked, so I went outside to see what was wrong.”  He lifted me up as he stood, so I could see out the window in the door.  Out by the tree, the bunny pen had a hole in it that I could see from here.  Misty’s red house was there too, but Misty must have been inside out of the sun.  “When I got up to where Misty’s house is, the dogs had run away.  I found Snowball and grabbed her before she could run away.”

“But what about Pepper?” I asked, still looking outside as if I might see him.

“Pepper wasn’t in the cage,” he said.  ” He must have got scared of the dogs and run away.”

My eyes watered up.  I liked both my bunnies, but Pepper would let me pet him much longer than Snowball would.  Dad hugged me, saying how we’d get a new bunny to keep Snowball company.  I was just about to tell him I didn’t want another bunny when we heard a noise at the garage door, a scratching sound.  Still holding me as I cried, dad went over to the other door.

“Well, look at that.”

Picking my head up, I looked out the door to see Misty sitting in the garage, her tail wagging furiously.

Cradled in her mouth gently, twitching angrily, was Pepper.

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