Fiction Fragment Friday

Today’s story is just a tiny slice of life. It is probably the first story I have shared on a Fiction Fragment Friday that is not Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Paranormal. I did think about adding a paranormal element to the stuffed animal in the story, but decided against it. It would have been extremely easy to do so, but it just didn’t fit the purpose of the story.

I actually debated for a while on whether this should be a genre story. Some past stories have started out completely mundane, but I don’t write mundane so I have worked in elements of Science Fiction into them because I felt that is what is expected of me. I tend to want that for a story to be interesting so a part of me feels like that is all I can write. For that reason alone I decided to stick with slice of life. To continue challenging my preconceived notions of my writing.

“Daddy how do the bunnies stay warm with that much snow outside?  What do they eat?”

My daughter has always loved bunny rabbits.  She sometimes sits on the couch looking out the window watching them run around the front yard.  Of course, her favorite stuffed animal is Mr. Hoppy a big rabbit with a creepy looking grin on it’s face.  I swear I have never seen a toy more disturbing, but she won’t go anywhere without it. 

“I’m not sure baby. “ I knew the answer was wrong the moment I said it.  I didn’t even have to see the look on her face, but that did help drive it home.  I could see the tears forming in her eyes and had seconds before they would start falling.  “I know, let’s look it up.”  I pulled out my phone incredibly grateful to have the total of all the world’s knowledge both real and imagined at my fingertips. 

I made a couple of quick searched why my daughter watched me.  I wasn’t sure if the look she was giving was hopeful or afraid.  I knew I had to answer very carefully though and if I was vague she would eat me alive.  People worry about bears and sharks but the real apex predator is a seven year old girl worried about the bunnies in her front yard.

“Looks like they have thick fur and burrow underground to stay warm.  If there isn’t grass to eat they can eat tree bark or bushes.  This says they do really well in the winter.”  I relaxed a little.  I had been expecting a much less reassuring response.  I of course left out that rabbits breed so quickly because winter like predators is a form of population control.  My phone stayed ready though because more questions were likely to come.

“How does being underground help them stay warm?”

“Well it’s kind of like wearing an extra coat.  It keeps the wind away and makes sure that all the heat their bodies make stays there instead of floating away.”

She looked relieved and for a moment I thought I could relax.  Then came the flood.  “What about squirrels, and chipmunks, and raccoons, and and and…skunks?  No skunks are stinky even if they are kinda cute.”  She spoke so fast I could barely understand her. 

“Woah, slow down the princess. I’m sure they all have ways of getting by.  Let’s just pick one more and look it up.  How about raccoons?”

“Ok.”  She clutched Mr. Hoppy tightly and I could tell she wasn’t happy to be limited to only one. 

I did a few more searched and thought about how I wanted to word my answer.  “Well baby it looks like they grow extra fur, find shelter from the wind and if it gets really bad they do something like hibernating.”  I really hoped that would be a good enough answer, but I expected to have to look up details on hibernation and how what they did was different.  Thankfully she looked satisfied.

“So the animals outside don’t need our help?”

“No baby they all have their own ways of dealing with it just like we do.  Speaking of how we handle it do you want a Hot Cocoa?”  The key to a seven year old is distraction.

“With little marshmallows?”

“Yep I picked some up in my pre-snow storm shopping trip.” 

As we headed to the kitchen I couldn’t help but wonder how my parents and grandparents did it.  How did you answer questions like that before having the Internet to look it up?   I tried remembering if I had ever asked questions like she does, but if I did I was too young to remember the answers now.