Peter Cottontail hides eggs.
“This one,” he says to himself, “I painted like the world. It tells the story of how Attaris Bunny broke the sky and stole the stars.”
He looks around. He scampers over to a bush. He plans to hide it under the bush. He looks up nervously, as he does each time, towards Eden Above.
“That story, Peter?”
Peter startles. He almost drops the egg. He spins around. Then he hides the egg behind his back. “Why, Betty!” he says.
Betty Bunny has her hands on her hips. She’s pink, except for her tail and waistcoat, which are yellow.
“It’s important,” says Peter.
“It’s not important. Nothing’s important. Not this close to Eden.”
Peter pouts. After a long moment, Betty relents. She looks down. She sighs. “But why that?” she says. “Why would you ever want anyone to know that?”
Peter brightens. He turns his back on her and finishes hiding the egg under the bush. Then he hops off towards the forest.
“Come on!” he says.
Reluctantly, she hops after him. She follows him into the forest. He hops to the left. He hops to the right. Finally, he finds just the right tree. He pulls out an egg. It’s painted a dull cold red.
“This one,” Peter says, reverently, “is going to have the story of the serpent. And I’m going to hide it here, right under the tree of life.”
“You have to tell it,” Peter says. “You’re the best at it. I always get choked up.”
Betty frowns at him.
Peter puts the egg back in the basket. “It’s okay,” he says. “You don’t have to do it yet.”
He finds a different tree. He takes out an egg. “This one’s about the genocide in Asia,” he says. “When we killed all the lucky rabbits.”
It’s painted brilliantly. It’s a den and a backdrop of blue and there are white rabbits sitting in it, drinking tea and looking out their window at the night. The rough blue-black paint of the sky catches just the slightest spark of light.
“That was exaggerated,” Betty says.
“They weren’t all that lucky,” Peter agrees. His voice is sad. He looks up at Eden Above. He looks down. Then, quickly, he hides the egg. He scampers to an abandoned mouse hole, looks down, and then glances back at Betty. “Do you have any eggs?”
“You knew I’d be out here,” he says. “You knew I’d be doing this. You didn’t bring any eggs? Even if it’d break my heart?”
Betty sighs. “Fine,” she says. She rummages around in her waistcoat pocket. She pulls out an egg. It has stick figures on it. They are the stick figures of rabbits. They look a lot like human stick figures except for the quintessential quality of bunnyness.
“It’s about peace,” she says. “It’s about every bunny who muddled through, even—”
She looks up. “Even knowing—”
Peter takes it gently from her paws. He hides it in the mousehole.
“See?” he says. “It’s important that they know.”
He thinks, and then he takes out an egg of his own, painted with a thin and wasting rabbit carrying a lantern and staring down a deep dark hall.
“Starvation,” he says.
After a nervous look upwards, he hides it with hers.
“I’ll tell you the story,” Betty says. “If you want.”
Peter takes out the dull red egg. He cradles it in his clever paws. He holds it up to her. It listens.
“We were young,” Betty says. “In the dawn of the world. In the garden. And the serpent tempted us, as it did Man.”
“Yes,” Peter says.
“We took down the apple,” Betty says. “A bunny and a cottontail. And ate it, so that we would know good from evil. We learned to make waistcoats to hide our shame.”
Peter nods. For a long time, Betty is silent.
“But we were very small!” Betty cried.
“You have to finish,” Peter prompts. “The egg won’t be done until you finish.”
“We weren’t hungry enough,” says Betty. “We couldn’t finish the whole apple, not even between the two of us. So we only learnt enough to last a thousand years.”
“That’s how it was,” he says.
“Soon we’ll forget,” the bunny says, looking very small against the wind, “and go back to Eden, and we won’t have choices to make any more.”
The garden hangs above them. The strange devices that hold it out of human reach thrum low.
“It is a little closer,” Betty says, “every day.”
She adds, “The end.”
The egg clicks. The egg whirrs. “Data stored,” it says.
Peter takes the egg back to the tree of life. He leaves it at its root. He hops away. When he is at the edge of Betty’s sight, he stops, and turns back.
“Come on,” he says. “Come on!”
“There’s no one who’ll ever find them,” Betty says. “No one who’ll know—”
“We have to hide the egg about my birthday,” Peter says. “Otherwise no one will know which day to celebrate!”
“Oh,” Betty says.
She begins to hop after him.
“And the one about the War?” she asks.
“And the one about the War.”