The Easter Frog
The sunny day was deceiving. The grass appeared lush and bright, and the spring trees had blossomed. Yet, the cheerful scene did not reach all the forest. A grand house built in a maze of hollow logs had lost all sense of joy and color. It was undeniably dismal.
Inside, there was a heap of baskets stuffed with fake grass. There were dozens of colored and plastic eggs. Jellybeans and chocolates were wrapped and ready. There was enough cellophane to wallpaper the entire space. Crosses glistened.
In the middle of it all, Herman sat somberly on his chair. Most people knew him by an official title: The Easter Bunny. However, his perky ears were slicked down, and his bowtie was terribly crooked. The gray rabbit sighed heavily. It wasn’t his day.
A knock came. He glanced at his door. “Come on in.”
“Don’t sound so excited to see me,” a voice croaked. The forest frog known as Avocado found his way inside. He hopped over to his pal with a frown. “What has you so down, Herman? Easter is a few days away.”
“I don’t know if Easter is going to happen this year. I broke my foot. I hopped right into my cousin Harvey’s shoe. I didn’t see him. This is the year people need Easter the most too. There’s so much happening right now. It has to do with a horrible virus. I heard people can’t be close to each other anymore. Families aren’t together. People can’t go to church. Mabel the squirrel saw people come to blows over toilet paper.”
“It’s tough times out there, man.”
“Easter has to happen somehow. It’s about so much more than chocolates and baskets and bunnies. No offense, Herman.”
“None taken,” he replied. “You’re right. Easter is about love and new life. It’s about how much Jesus loves us and how much we love each other. It’s about the world renewing itself. About renewing ourselves. I love being part of it. My job is to remind people of the joys and gift of life, you know. Even if people think I just have a cute tail and deliver cream eggs.”
“And deliver you must! Like you said, they need you now more than ever.”
Herman gravely nodded his head. “That’s true. I can’t do it, though. I’m sorry to let you and the whole world down. If I could hop, I’d make this one special Easter.”
“Hop…” Avocado hummed to himself. “Hey, I can hop. Why don’t I take on Easter this year? I won’t be as cute as you, but I’d give it my best shot.”
The frog stood taller and puffed out his chest. He used his most macho croak. “Yes, sir. I’m ready for the challenge, sir.”
“Alrighty, Avocado. I say we do it. Let’s start training.”
The training program was rather rigorous. Herman told Avocado to assemble all the Easter baskets. The frog passed with flying colors. Afterwards, Herman shared his Easter Bunny secrets and methods. Herman’s secrets were so valuable he wouldn’t even share them with the storyteller. Magic. That was Herman’s explanation. Magic and love.
It was the day before Easter. Herman had faith in his best friend. Avocado was nervous, as any frog would be, but Herman kept him calm. While night approached, Herman presented Avocado with a special headband. Now, Avocado had bunny ears of his own.
“Really? You don’t think the ears are too much?” Avocado asked.
“Nah. They’re you. How about a bow tie? Or, we could stick on a tail. I have a cotton ball somewhere.”
“I think I’ll stick to the ears, thank you,” the frog returned. He drew in a deep breath. “Do you think I’m ready?”
“You’re ready. I’ve never seen a better bunny-eared amphibian in my life.”
“You’ve never seen another one in your life.”
“That’s why you’re the best. Seriously, my friend. You’ll know what to do. Time to go.”
With a brave smile, the frog vanished to begin his Easter mission. He knew where he needed to be by listening to the beat of his heart.
Stealthily, Avocado entered the home of little Jimmy. The rest of the residents fell asleep hours ago. Jimmy’s sheets were knotted from his restless legs. He surrendered to his insomnia and the tears that came along with it. A photograph of Jimmy with his mother was pinned to his wall. She was in her scrubs.
Jimmy rummaged through his cluttered desk until he found the Easter chick he made for her. He worked tirelessly on the art project, hoping he would have a chance to give it to his mother by Easter Sunday. That morning, she called to tell him she still couldn’t come back. The hospital needed a nurse for all the patients with the virus, and there was no way she’d risk bringing it home to her family.
Although the boy understood, he wanted to see his mother. It had been weeks. There seemed to be no end in sight.
“I want you to have my chick, Mom,” Jimmy whispered in the night. “I can’t see you, but I want you to have it.”
Avocado saw the scene before him. Jimmy finally returned to his bed. Once he was asleep, Avocado went to work. His next stop was a hotel across town. That’s where Jimmy’s mother was granted three hours off. She had to go back to work after that.
The frog appeared in the hotel room. He hopped silently to the dresser. After completing his objective, he was gone. Jimmy’s mother woke to discover Avocado’s work. A plastic egg waited for her. When she opened it, the chick Jimmy made sat in the bottom.
“Jimmy,” she grinned.
She set it on the dresser by pictures of little Jimmy. She wasn’t sure how it got there, but she wasn’t asking questions. The chick was the epitome of love itself, and it was exactly was she needed. She’d call Jimmy as soon as she saw the sunrise.
The elderly man was alone in his hospital bed after contracting the virus. An itchy and cumbersome mask covered most of his face. His skin was wrinkled and stretched, yet his only tattoo remained sharp. It was a cross on his right arm. He had it done years before he officially joined the priesthood. Now, he couldn’t be at church on Easter, and he didn’t even have his rosary. His heart was breaking.
At home, Sister Ruby set a box of Father Edgar’s personal items by the door. She brought them with her when she finished closing the church. When she passed the box on her way to the kitchen, she remembered there was something special in it. It was Father Edgar’s rosary. He was rushed to the hospital so quickly he didn’t have time to take it with him.
The rosary was extremely important to him, and Easter was his favorite holiday. She wished she could visit, and she wished she could get the rosary to him. However, visitors weren’t allowed. He had to be on his own. The thought brought a melancholy expression to Sister Ruby’s face.
“Father Edgar,” she sighed to herself. “If I could, I’d be right there. I’d at least bring you your rosary. I know how much it means to you.”
Sister Ruby had no idea Avocado overheard her words. The frog waited until she was gone to get what he needed. After that, he appeared in the hospital. He left a plastic egg on the hospital bed beside the slumbering priest. Then, he vanished. Father Edgar stirred.
He immediately felt the egg next to him. Gently, he popped the egg open. His rosary was inside. He smiled as he cradled it in his hands. It was all he needed to remind him of the love in the world.
Albert and Bethany
After being told to stay at home, Albert and his wife Bethany were not doing well. The couple usually got along swimmingly, but they had too much time together. Everything thing Albert did annoyed Bethany. He chewed too loud, he watched too many game shows, and he simply existed. She was tired of his face, though she still loved him dearly. Albert felt the same way about Bethany. He was losing his mind.
Avocado entered through a hole in their screen door. He sat and watched the couple argue as if it were a tennis match. He said one thing. She’d come back with another. He’d say something else. She’d finally explode. Albert took the next step. It was a bad one.
“I think I want to go outside and get the virus. I’d rather be sick in a hospital than sick of you in this house.”
Avocado shook his head, Albert instantly regretted his words, and Bethany had enough. She turned on her heel and stormed towards their bedroom. Albert’s shoulders jumped when he heard the door slam. He slumped against the refrigerator in the kitchen.
“Why do you do that, Albert?” he grumbled to himself. “You know you love her more than anything. And you just messed up big. How can I make it up to her? I went too far…”
Albert went through the kitchen trashcan to find a scrap of paper. A grocery store receipt would have to do. He had to scour the room to find a pen. Once he had both, he wrote a note to Bethany. He wanted to apologize and declare his love. Yet, he threw the note down. He didn’t think it’d be enough.
Avocado used his magic. He was in their hallway moments later. He left a plastic egg in front of their bedroom door. It was hard for a frog to knock, but he managed. Bethany furiously answered the door. She discovered the egg instead. Inside, she found Albert’s note and a mini chocolate egg.
“Albert,” Bethany called. Albert joined her in the hallway. Bethany smiled. “I love you too.”
In a flash, Avocado was gone.
After his long night, Avocado returned to Herman’s house. Avocado left plastic eggs filled with love for everyone he could reach. Herman clapped his paws together upon Avocado’s entrance. The bunny couldn’t be happier. Neither could Avocado.
“You did it. Actually, you didn’t just do it. You were beyond magical out there,” Herman complimented.
“You think so?”
“I know so. I couldn’t have done a better job. You know how to share love and hope in difficult times, my friend. You’ll have to help me out next year.”
Avocado beamed. “Yeah? I’d like to.”
“Then you shall! I have something for you.”
Herman presented Avocado with a plastic egg. When Avocado opened it, he found a thank you card and a name tag.
“The Easter Frog,” he read aloud.
“That’s you. Never forget it.”
“Never will,” Avocado promised. Then, he paused. “Herman, can I wear the bunny ears all year?”
“Only if you add a bowtie.”
He considered the idea. “Fine. But it better have polka dots.”
“Naturally. After you, Easter Frog.”
“No, no. After you, Easter Bunny.”
Laughing, the duo hopped into Herman’s closet. They underestimated just how happy they should be. Their friendship brought love back to a world saturated with uncertainties and darkness. Easter was happy again. Between the frog and bunny, it would always stay that way.
*For Arthur the frog and Harold the bunny*