Started: 11-26-12, 10:51PM
Finished: 11-30-12, 3:20AM
by Tooie Kangaroo
It was a new day in Cottontail Pines. Morning was the time when most animals would wake up and begin their preparations for the day. For Flopsy the lop-eared rabbit, it meant brushing her fur and helping her mother make breakfast. For Blacky the skunk, it usually meant a lot of groaning and griping. And then there was Goober the brown rabbit.
Goober was always promptly awake at first light. Only a minute after opening his eyes, the bunny would carefully crawl out of bed and begin doing his morning stretches and exercises. He even had a little chant that would help him keep his rhythm:
“Left paw straight down to my toes,
Back up again right to my nose.
Right paw travels the very same way,
And that’s how we start a brand new day.”
Even though the exercise was not too strenuous, he would still take a moment to catch his breath. Goober was very careful about overexerting himself. He did not want to pass out.
The brown rabbit would then proceed to make up his bed. He was very careful to make sure that all the creases were flattened out. This task was sometimes extremely difficult, because as one crease would disappear, another would surface somewhere else. Sometimes, Goober would have to start completely over two or three times to get it right.
The next thing that Goober took care of was his personal grooming. He approached his dresser with the mirror atop of it. Everything he needed was lying in perfect straight lines along the top.
The rabbit picked up a comb and began straightening his fur wherever he could. He did so with much care as he watched himself in the mirror. When he was done with that, he took a little cotton swab and began thoroughly cleaning out his ears. It was important to him that he would hear everything the teacher had to say at school.
Goober made sure to rearrange everything neatly on his dresser. He made a last moment check of his room to make sure that everything was neat and orderly; although, he did find a few things wrong and proceeded back to reorganize everything until it looked satisfactory.
As the bunny walked to his door, he said, “An orderly room is a safe room.” Goober picked up his school books and walked out to where his mother was just setting the table.
Mother said to him, “Your father left a little early today, Goober.”
The brown rabbit placed his books on the table and sat down to eat. “Was there trouble at the shop?”
“Oh, no. Nothing like that. My sister–Maple from Sugarcane Crossing–is visiting us for a most of the week, and your father went to meet them at the border.”
Goober seemed rather concerned about this. “Crossing the great field is dangerous. I hope they have someone to escort them.”
Mother reassured. “Don’t worry. They will. Mister Hooty the owl will also be accompanying your father to make sure they arrive without any trouble.”
Goober made sure to cut up all his foot into small easy bites before eating any of it, and even still, he set some aside to eat later at school. He was always very conscious about the dangers of overeating.
Goober checked to see if all his school supplies were organized correctly before walking to the front door. Mother stopped him before he left, “I almost forgot to mention: Maple is bringing along her son, Waffle. You remember Waffle, right?”
The younger rabbit did indeed remember Waffle. “Yes, Mom. I remember he was very young. He couldn’t even talk.”
“Well, he is a lot older now. I’m sure you both will have many things to talk about.” She smiled as she saw her son off to the cobblestone path that led through Cottontail Pines.
Goober smiled at the idea that Waffle was coming. The truth was that he liked discussing things with family, and this would be a chance to pass on all the things he knew to someone younger than him. Surely, Waffle had many things to learn. This would be Goober’s chance to educate him.
He imagined himself sitting with his cousin and telling him all sorts of interesting things while Waffle just stared back at him in wonderment. Goober was starting to wish school was already over.
* * *
Mid-afternoon: Goober was heading home with much more notes than what he had arrived with. Mister Hooty had assigned everyone in class that they should write a report about the flowers of Cottontail Pines. This was a subject which the brown bunny knew a lot about. He was already thinking about what he was going to write.
He approached the front door of his house, wiped off his feet on the doormat, and entered. His mother and father were there with his Aunt Maple. The young rabbit greeted, “Hello, Aunt Maple!”
The visiting rabbit stood to her feet and quickly pulled the surprised bunny into a hug. “I haven’t seen you since you were just a little bunny boy, Goober!”
The young rabbit did not like being touched or held, but he knew that it would have been rude to pull away. He squirmed and said, “I am happy to see you too. Is Waffle here?”
Maple pointed over to his bedroom. “Waffle is waiting for you in there. He says he doesn’t remember you, but he still sounded like he wanted to meet you all the same.” The news was actually a bit startling. Nobody entered his room without his permission. Even his best friends had learned that they needed to ask him first.
Goober tried to reason with himself, What kind of trouble could Waffle do in such a short time? Maybe he is just reading one of my books. The young rabbit slowly approached his room, and when he opened it, he was shocked at what he saw.
Waffle was in there and had formed a fortress out of Goober’s book collection. The cute, little rabbit was sitting underneath it and smiled brightly at his cousin’s arrival. “Goober! Look what I made!”
Goober frantically began disassembling the fortress. He scolded, “Waffle, books aren’t used this way! You just can’t play with them like this.”
The boy did not move from where he sat, but instead, just watched the brown rabbit reorganize the books onto his shelf. “Well, what was I supposed to do with books, read them?”
Goober stopped for a moment and looked at Waffle. “Yes. Books are meant to be read.”
Waffle laughed. “I can’t read yet!”
“Well, that is still no excuse to play with them.” Goober continued to place the books in his shelf; however, Waffle crawled over to the bed and peeked under it. The older rabbit saw this at the last moment. “Waffle!” He ran over missing the little bunny feet as they disappear under the bed.
He heard the boy shout, “There’s all sorts of writing leaves under here!”
Goober whimpered out of frustration and pleaded, “Please, come out. Don’t mess with those!”
Waffle had secretly crawled out of another side of the bed and made his way over to the dresser. Goober was still trying to find him under the bed as his cousin began digging through the drawers. “What is all this junk? Why are there dead butterflies in here?”
Goober bumped his head under the bed when he suddenly realized that his cousin was behind him. He crawled out and said, “Waffle, don’t touch those! They have to stay perfectly categorized!”
The younger rabbit pulled out the glass case and held it to his chest. “I wanna look at them!”
“That’s fine, but just let me hold them.”
“No, I want to look at them!”
Goober was so frustrated that he suddenly reached out for the container. Waffle suddenly turned and ran out of the room. “Mooooom! Goober’s chasing me!”
Even though Goober was chasing him, he yelled, “No, I’m not! I just want my butterfly collection back!”
Aunt Maple stopped her son in his tracks and took the collection away from him. “Don’t be rude, Waffle. This belongs to Goober. If he wants to show it to you, he can do it himself.”
Waffle seemed to look ashamed of what he did, and pretended to kick something that was not there. Goober stepped up to him as if out of breath, but in reality, he was just rattled more than he usually was. The older boy said, “I’ll show it to you, but after that, I need some privacy to do my homework.”
Waffle answered, “I understand. I’m sorry.”
Maple handed Goober his collection back and apologized for her son. “I’m sorry, Goober. He was really excited to meet you. I’ll make sure you get some privacy before you go to bed.”
The brown rabbit checked his butterfly case for damage. It was all right, but he looked back up when he realized what had been said. “What happens when I go to bed?”
“Well, little Waffle needs a place to sleep tonight. We were going to lay out a cot in your bedroom. I hope you won’t mind.”
Goober minded, but he did not want to be rude. He was already worried about all the things the boy might touch, move around, or break while he was asleep. “I… guess it will be okay.”
Waffle added, “I won’t do anything bad. I promise. I just wanted to see your butterflies.”
Goober reluctantly nodded. “I understand, Waffle.” He showed the younger boy his collection. “I collected these two years ago. I even named them.” He pointed to the names he had written under each butterfly.
Waffle smiled and said, “The big blue one is my favorite. What did you name it?”
Goober blushed a bit. “Well… I named it Big Blue.”
“That’s a pretty name for a pretty butterfly.”
Maple placed her hands on her son’s shoulders. “Go ahead and do your work, Goober. I’ll bring Waffle into the living area to talk with your parents. Once again, it’s good to see you after so long.”
Goober released a sigh of relief. “It’s good to see you also, Aunt Maple.” The brown rabbit retreated back into his room where he would finally have some peace to work on his homework assignment.
* * *
It was late evening by the time Goober had finished his assignment. He had categorized and classified nearly every flower in Cottontail Pines. Most students would have talked about their looks and smells, but Goober had always taken the more scientific approach to his assignments. Mister Hooty never seemed to mind this because it was where the boy shined.
His work was carefully assembled on no less than ten writing leaves with some very elaborate, carefully detailed drawings on each of them. He was not a very good artist, but he had used some references from some of the books he had to make sure he did well.
The brown rabbit took a set of hard covers and placed the assignment between them and wrote his name and the assignment on the front cover. After finishing his work, he smiled at just how flawless it was. “It will be the best assignment of the whole class,” he said to himself.
The voice of his mother called from the dining room, “Goober, dinner is ready!”
That was good news. The rabbit had worked up a hunger. He placed the completed assignment down near his school pack and made his way to the dining room. Unfortunately, he found himself sitting at a smaller table with Waffle.
Goober did his best to keep calm around the unpredictable rabbit. He was carefully slicing up his cabbage cakes to make them small enough to eat safely. Waffle was not eating as much as he was just staring. The older rabbit asked, “Why are you staring at me?”
Waffle cocked his head. “Why are you cutting all your food up like that?”
“Because if you eat too much at one time, you might choke.”
“My mother said that you only choke if you talk or breathe when you swallow.”
Goober nodded. “That true. You should always be careful when you eat” He took a bite of tiny cabbage cake.
Waffle grinned slyly and started stuffing his cheeks with as much as he could fit in it. Goober went wide-eyed and said, “Stop that! You could get hurt!”
To which the younger rabbit replied, “Ah aff foo fiff!”
“See! You can’t even talk now. In fact, you shouldn’t be talking. Chew it up and swallow!”
Waffle was chewing it all right, but a lot of it was falling out of his mouth. Goober cringed at just how gross it was. Finally, Waffle swallowed and said, “See? I don’t have to cut it up like you do.”
Goober replied, “That was really gross, and you could have choked.”
“But I’m all done, and you still have more to eat.”
“You aren’t supposed to just gobble everything at once.”
Waffle crossed his little arms and said, “Yes, you are.”
Goober shook his head. “No, you aren’t.”
“Yes, you are.”
“No, you aren’t.”
“Yes, you are.”
Goober cupped his face. “Stop it!”
Waffle laughed. “You lose! I win!” He ran away from the table before Goober could reply. The brown rabbit tried to finish his cabbage cake peacefully.
When bedtime came, a cot was set up on the floor in Goober’s room. Pleasantly, Waffle was already falling asleep when he was introduced to it. The older rabbit released a long sigh as he lay in his own bed, and soon, he fell asleep as well.
* * *
Early morning came, but Goober was not woken up by the hint of first sunlight as he was used to. Instead, he heard the sounds of cheerful humming coming from nearby. He blinked a few times to help with the grogginess and slowly turned his head. Waffle was sitting on the floor with crayons scattered about.
The brown rabbit asked, “Waffle, are you already awake?”
The younger rabbit turned his head with a smile. “Don’t look! I’m almost done with your present!”
Goober slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes. “My… My present?”
Waffle suddenly turned around and held up a leaf with a very childish drawing of Goober and Waffle holding paws. It was kind of hard to look at, but at least he had done well with coloring in the lines.
The brown rabbit asked, “You made this for me?”
“Yes! Because you are a great cousin!”
Goober smiled for a moment; however, he suddenly had a really bad suspicion. The brown rabbit slowly turned the leaf over, and to his horrors, he saw a page from his homework assignment. It had been thoroughly scribbled over in Waffle’s previous failed attempts. Goober jumped to his feet in a nervous panic. “Oh, my gosh! This isn’t so bad. I can just redo this page quickly before I go to school.”
Waffle was just baffled by that response. “Redo what? What’s wrong? Don’t you like the picture? It took me a ton of tries to get it right.”
Goober thought he felt his heart stop. “A ton of tries? Waffle, what do you mean by a ton of tries?”
Waffle pointed over to a bunch of leaves on the floor and an empty assignment cover. Goober darted over to them and found that his worst fears had been realized. He turned to Waffle and shouted, “You ruined my assignment! I worked so hard on it! I had every single flower in Cottontail Pines categorized and named, and it was going to get me the best grade in the class!”
Waffle began to recoil towards the door. His voice wobbled, “I didn’t know what it was, Goober! I can’t read! Stop yelling at me!”
Goober looked like he was having a break down. “You can’t just come into other people’s houses and destroy their stuff! I don’t even have time to redo the assignment! Mister Hooty is gonna fail me! My whole life is gonna be ruined after this! How could you be so stupid, Waffle!”
The little rabbit began to cry. “I was just… hnng… trying to… hnng… draw you… hnng… a picture!”
With his temper flaring higher than ever, Goober yelled, “Well, that doesn’t bring my assignment back!”
Waffle covered his eyes and ran out of the room crying his heart out. Maple ran to help her son just as Goober mother darted over to hers. She had heard everything. “Goober, I can’t believe you just talked to him like that! I’ve never heard you yell like that before. You’re normally so quiet and well-behaved!”
Goober pointed at the destroyed assignment scattered about the floor. “Look what he did! My assignment is ruined!”
Mother defended her nephew, “He’s just a little child, Goober. He didn’t know any better. I’m sorry about your assignment, but you are going to have to make up what you can before you leave. I’ll make sure Waffle knows what he did wrong.”
“You don’t understand, Mom! It was perfect! I had the perfect assignment! It took me a long time to do it, and I don’t have time to do one that good before school! I won’t even have time to do my stretches and grooming responsibilities!”
Mother wiggled her finger at her son. “The longer you stand there complaining about Waffle, the less time you’ll have to get that assignment done. Now, get to it!”
At that point, Goober was a nervous wreck. It was not just because of how everything seemed to fall apart so quickly, but it was also because he had lost his temper. That was not normal for him in the least. Still, he had to do something for his assignment, so he got out some extra writing leaves and quickly threw together a much smaller, less orderly assignment. He barely had enough time to eat before he ran down the cobblestone path to school.
* * *
After school: a very depressed, brown rabbit was slowly walking home after getting a B-minus on his assignment. His best friend Flopsy–a white, lop-eared rabbit–swiftly hopped up to him. She asked, “What happened in class? I never saw you get anything lower than an A on an assignment. You look really depressed too.”
Goober made a long sigh. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
Flopsy almost laughed, but she was able to stop herself. “Wasn’t it you who always says ‘If you keep your feelings deep inside, they’ll only grow and get worse.’?” She did a fairly good job imitating him and even raised a finger like he always did.
Goober cringed after seeing an impression of himself; however, she did have a point. He said, “It’s my cousin Waffle from Sugarcane Crossing. He’s only been visiting one day, and already he’s making my life miserable.”
“You got a little cousin? I bet he’s incredibly cute!”
“Well, he is a little cute, but he’s more annoying. All he does is mess up things in my room, act totally gross, and he even drew all over my assignment. That’s why I had a poor assignment ready: the good one was destroyed by Waffle.”
Flopsy tapped her nose for a moment while she thought about it. “Well, little children are rambunctious like that. Even my little brother Lemmy can be a handful at times. That’s just how they are.”
Goober let out a long, frustrated sigh once again. “But how am I going to last a whole week with him living there? I couldn’t even do my morning exercises.”
The white rabbit replied, “Goober, sometimes I think you like things to be a little too perfect. You always seem to be worried that if you don’t follow your routines that something bad will happen. Maybe you just need to find a way to relax. Try to enjoy Waffle while he is around. It’s not every day that you get to see him.”
Goober countered, “I am always relaxed! It’s Waffle that is making me not relaxed!”
Flopsy hopped in front of him and held Goober by his shoulders. “Goober, listen. Little kids can be a pain sometimes. Just ask Mister Rupert the Possum. He has eight of them. But it’s really just all about allowing yourself relax so you can handle the situation.”
Goober asked, “How do you stop Lemmy from messing up your stuff?”
“Well, for one thing I don’t keep anything out in the open that I do not want destroyed. If you were having so many problems with Waffle, you should have hid your assignment or passed it along to your mother. Remember, you are the older one. That assignment was your responsibility.”
Goober hung his head in shame when he realized that she was right. Flopsy continued, “You know, for a rabbit who goes around advising people what they should and shouldn’t do, you should be more grown-up about these things.”
“You’re right, Flopsy. I guess there were things I could have done to prevent this.”
Flopsy gave Goober a gentle hug because she knew he did not like being touched. “I’ll be here for you if you need help. I’ve dealt with little kids for a long time. I even help out Mister Rupert once in a while.”
Goober hugged his friend back and nodded. “Thank you, Flopsy. I guess you’re the one giving me advice this time.”
“Don’t get used to it. Eventually, you’ll be telling me how to raise Lemmy. I have no idea how crazy he’ll get when he learns how to talk.”
Goober nodded and said, “I’ll do my best.” The brown rabbit padded off to his home.
Flopsy waved to him just as Blacky the skunk was walking out to meet her. He asked, “Goober looks really depressed. What’s the matter with him?”
The lop-eared rabbit replied, “He’s just having problems with his hyper, little cousin. He’ll be okay though.”
Blacky crossed his arms and huffed. “Ah, cousins. They’re nothing but trouble! That’s why I never had any.” Flopsy stared at him like he said something silly. The skunk just shrugged and walked back to his house.
* * *
When goober had returned home, he took a moment to look about to see if Waffle was nearby. His mother caught him and nearly surprised him. She said, “Whoa, Goober. It’s just your mother.”
The brown rabbit tried to relax. “Where is Waffle?”
“Maple took him to Donut Park to play for a while. How did your rushed assignment go?”
Goober frowned. “I got a B-minus.”
Mother pursed her lips for a moment. “Not horrible considering how much time you had.”
“It could have been an A-plus,” he paused, “but I think I’m to blame for what happened.”
Mother seemed surprised to hear that. “I thought it was Waffle that messed up your assignment.”
“I should have hid it better. I should have known that he might do something like that with as hyper as he was that night. I guess as the older rabbit, I should have been more responsible and not blame everything on Waffle.”
Mother smiled and hugged her son. “You don’t know how happy it is to hear you talk like that. You know, I think Waffle could learn a lot from you. You may be a little obsessive at times, but you do give out a lot of healthy advice.”
Goober hugged his mother back and smiled. “I’m only trying to help the other animals, Mom. I don’t like it when my friends get hurt or sick.”
“I know how you feel, Goober. I’m sure they know you care about them.”
The front door opened up and in walked Maple with her son. Waffle was all smiled until he saw Goober standing there. He frowned, put his arms behind him, and looked at his feet.
Maple placed a paw to her son’s back and asked, “Waffle, don’t you have something you want to say to Goober?”
The older boy stayed completely silent. He was unsure what Waffle was going to say.
The younger rabbit made a sorrowful sigh and said, “I’m really sorry I messed up your assignment, Goober. I didn’t know those leaves were important. Please, forgive me.”
Goober took a deep breath, walked over, and gave the little boy a hug. “It’s okay, Waffle. I forgive you. Just try and be more careful, all right?”
Waffle hugged back and said, “I promise. I think your room has a lot of neat things in it. Do you have anything you want to show me?”
Goober raised a finger and said, “Actually, I have collected many interesting things from all over Cottontail Pines, but you know what the real fun is?”
Waffle looked on with interest. “What’s that, Goober?”
Goober energetically replied, “Organizing them!”
“Really? Is that sort of thing really fun?”
The brown rabbit started for his room. “Sure, it is. The better you organize something, the more you can fit into one room. Want me to show you how to do it?”
“Sure! I wanna see it now!”
Waffle dashed right past Goober in all his excitement, but the brown rabbit was able to stop him before anything happened. “Why don’t we tackle this project slowly this time?” Goober suggested. Waffle smiled and nodded.
Goober’s mother and her sister Maple watched the two boys enter the room peacefully. Nobody knew for sure, but maybe this night would not be as bad.