Little Bunny and Big Bear
Little Bunny wakes up in the forest all alone. He looks around for the other bunnies, but no one is there. This makes Little Bunny anxious. He’s never been alone before. He doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t like the feeling of being all by himself in the big forest. So, he decides to go look for the other bunnies.
Little Bunny hops along the path through the forest. He looks down by the creek, but no bunnies there. He checks the clover patch by the big oak tree, but no one’s there either.
“They must be on a hike,” Little Bunny says to himself. “I’ll go on a hike too and surely I’ll find them.”
Little Bunny begins his journey to find the other bunnies. Soon, he comes across Big Bear lounging outside his den having just finished a big breakfast.
“Hello,” says Little Bunny.
“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” asks Big Bear. “Why aren’t you using the bunny system?”
“I’m looking for the other bunnies. I woke up this morning and I was all alone,” answered Little Bunny. “I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never been all alone before.”
Big Bear leaned against a tree and gave his back a good scratch.
“Little Bunny,” says Big Bear. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous for you to be out here all by yourself? You need to go back home right now and wait for the other bunnies. You are not following the rules of the forest.”
“I didn’t know there were rules.”
“Oh, there are lots of rules, Little Bunny,” said Big Bear. You’re already breaking a few just being out here by yourself. But the number one rule of the forest is that only the strongest survive.”
“Am I the strongest?”
“Well, I suppose you might be strong for a little bunny, Little Bunny. But you have to look at the big picture. For instance, if I were not a bear but instead, I was a mouse. Then you’d be the strongest. But, if we were to contemplate your current situation in which you find yourself—in the company not of a mouse but an actual bear, then you would not be the strongest. In that situation, the one you find yourself in now, you are the weakest.” said Big Bear and he took a moment to admire his physique. “Understand?”
“What happens to the weakest?” asked Little Bunny.
“Any number of things,” answered Big Bear. “It depends on the context.”
“What’s the context?” Little Bunny asked.
“The current context, much to your favor, is right now I’m not hungry,” said Big Bear. “And as long as it stays that way then you don’t have anything to worry about.”
Little Bunny thought for a while about what Big Bear had just said. He sniffed five times, scratched his left ear for 11 seconds, looked once to his left and twice to his right then once more to his left before saying, “It’s not working.”
“What’s not working?” asked Big Bear.
“You said I wouldn’t have anything to worry about, but I’m still worried. I’m worried about the other bunnies,” said Little Bunny.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about them. They’re in a better place now.”
“Can you take me to the better place?” asked Little Bunny.
“Little Bunny,” said Big Bear. “Did anyone ever teach you about the food chain?”
“No one’s really taught me anything,” answered Little Bunny.
“Well, that’s the state of education these days,” Big Bear lamented. “They don’t teach the fundamentals like they used to. The food chain is how the forest works. It’s how everyone gets fed.”
“Sounds delicious,” said Little Bunny. “Where do I find some food chain?”
“You don’t find the food chain,” said Big Bear. “You are the food chain. So am I. So is everything in the forest. We are all part of the food chain.”
Little Bunny looked confused, so Big Bear continued.
“It starts with the little things and goes up from there. The grasshopper gets eaten by the frog. The frog gets eaten by the snake. And the snake gets eaten by the owl,” explained Big Bear.
“Where am I on the food chain?”
“Well, I’d say you’re definitely over the frog and the grasshopper. I don’t know about the snake but I’m sure you’re not over the owl. I think you’re somewhere around a squirrel. Though, everyone has to watch out for the squirrels. They’re mean.”
“Where are you on the food chain?”
“Oh, I’m at the very top. I’m what you call an apex predator,” said Big Bear.
“You’re above me?”
“I am,” said Big Bear. “But you don’t have to worry as long as I’m not hungry. And I had a large breakfast this morning.”
Little Bunny looked down at the ground. His floppy ears sagged. His fuzzy shoulders shrugged.
“What’s wrong, Little Bunny?” asked Big Bear.
“I think I can hear the food chain.”
“What do you mean?” asked Big Bear.
“I hear everything,” said Little Bunny.
“I bet you do with those big ears of yours. That’s your advantage. Everyone has an advantage. Mine is my nose. Everything you hear, I can smell,” said Big Bear.
“It’s not an advantage. I hate it. It never stops. I can hear every living thing in the forest all at once, all the time. Every step. Every swoop. Every slither. Every croak. Every howl. Every growl. Every hoot. Every buzz. Every leaf in every tree. I hear them all. I hear things being eaten. I hear the crunching. I hear the fear. It’s terrifying. I want to bury my head in the ground just to get it to stop. Does it ever stop?” asked Little Bunny.
“I don’t think it does,” answered Big Bear. “Survival never sleeps.”
Little Bunny and Big Bear sat and watched the trees in the forest sway in the morning breeze.
“Little Bunny,” said Big Bear.
“Yeah?” answered Little Bunny.
“You got me thinking. Maybe the number one rule of the forest ISN’T only the strong survive. I’ve been here a lot longer than you have. I’ve seen more than you have. I’ve seen plenty of “the strong” not survive. And I’ve seen plenty of “the strong” not stay the strong. They become the weak. And then, they don’t survive anymore. So, to be completely honest, I don’t think there is much truth to that whole ‘only the strong survive’ business,” said Big Bear.
“So—” asked Little Bunny. “What is the number one rule of the forest?”
Big Bear thought for a moment.
“The number one rule of the forest is, eventually, everything gets eaten.” said Big Bear. “Sooner or later, everyone goes. No one gets to stay. Nothing is wasted.” And he looked away as he contemplated his own inevitable demise.
“I’ve seen lots of things get eaten, Little Bunny,” Big Bear continued. “And I’ve eaten lots of things too.”
“Are you going to eat me?” asked Little Bunny.
“I don’t want to,” said Big Bear. “I like you. I like talking to you. I don’t get to have many conversations like this. It’s a nice break from being alone. It quiets down my hunger for a bit.”
“Did you eat the other bunnies?” asked Little Bunny.
“Yeah,” said Big Bear. “I’m sorry.”
“Don't be. You were hungry. You were doing what the food chain told you to. Also, I think you have a little bit of bunny stuck in your teeth.”
“If it’s any consolation,” said Big Bear. “They were delicious.”
“That’s nice of you to say.”
“Well, the least I can do is not eat you too,” said Big Bear. “You better get going, I think I'm starting to feel a little peckish.”
“I don’t want to,” said Little Bunny. “You’re the only friend I have now. I don’t want to be alone. I know you’re going to eat me. I don’t care. It’s going to happen anyway. Just like you said. At least you’ll be quick about it.”
“It’s always better when it’s quick. When my time comes, that’s what I’m hoping for. It’s probably the best any of us can hope for.”
“So do it.”
“I won’t. You’re my friend and you need to leave. NOW.”
Little Bunny didn’t move. He and Big Bear sat watching the forest come to life around them. The morning was over. The trees swayed less as the breezes died down—calmed by the rising heat of the day. The peaceful sounds of rustling leaves were replaced by the buzz of another busy day beginning in the forest.
“The day’s getting started,” said Big Bear.
“I know,” said Little Bunny. “I can hear it.”
“I can smell it.”
“I won’t survive long without the other bunnies,” said Little Bunny.
“I know,” said Big Bear. “No one survives in the forest for very long on their own.”
“If you don’t help me now, I don’t know what will happen.”
“It’s okay, Little Bunny,” said Big Bear. “I know what it’s like to be scared.”
“How could you be scared?” asked Little Bunny. “You’re an apex predator.”
“I’m not the only apex predator,” Little Bunny. “There are others just like me. And they all want to be the strongest.”
“So what do you do?” asked Little Bunny.
“Whatever I have to do to survive,” said Big Bear.
“What happens when you don’t survive?” asked Little Bunny.
“Well,” said Big Bear. “That’s when you go to a better place.”
“It sounds nice. Maybe I’ll have smaller ears in the better place and I won’t be scared all the time.”
“I don’t think anyone is scared in the better place. That’s why it’s better.”
“Big Bear,” said Little Bunny. “Thank you.”
“Little Bunny,” said Big Bear. “I’ll see you around.”
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again real soon.