She did this because that was what she had always done, even though she never felt comfortable because her hard, old chair poked into her elbows, and her hard, old bed prodded at her back.
Harriet was hard of hearing, but one day, as she sat in her hard, old chair she heard three, loud knocks upon her door.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
Harriet leaned forward and pushed with her arms and legs to stand up. CREEEE-AK went her hard, old knees as she shuffled to the door. She opened the big, front door wide and leaned out.
“Who is banging on my door?” The old woman said in her hard, old voice.
Harriet looked outside, and saw no one, only the tall, green hedge dividing her house from her neighbors’ house.
Then she looked down. There, crouching on the crumbling, concrete steps in front of the door was a small, furry, white rabbit. It twitched it’s tiny, pink nose and wiggled it’s long, delicate ears. It looked up at her with gentle, bunny eyes.
“What are you doing here?” The old woman asked the rabbit, her voice not quite so hard. Harriet looked up at her neighbors’ house and said loudly, “Maybe someone thought I’d like you for a pet. Well, I don’t need a pet!” Still, she bent over and reached down with one old hand to stroke the beautiful, soft, white bunny fur on it’s back.
The little rabbit turned it’s head and sniffed at her fingers gently. Then it hopped around so it could lean it’s face and head into her hand. Harriet's wrinkled face melted into a smile.
“Aren’t you a friendly one! I guess you could come in for a visit, but just a short one. After all, I don’t need a pet.”
She gathered the bunny up into her arms. It snuggled in close, laying it’s long, velvety ears down flat as she stroked the smooth, snowy fur on it’s head. Holding it carefully with one arm, the old woman turned and closed the door gently so as not to scare the little fellow.
“I’ll bet you’re a hungry bunny,” Harriet said.
She carried the rabbit into the kitchen, patting it’s silky head and enjoying the soft, warm feel of it under her bony, old hand.
Holding it gently, she opened her refrigerator and found a bag of four, fresh, sweet carrots.
Harriet carried the bunny and the carrots back to the living room to sit in her hard, old chair. But she got right up again, saying, “I think we’d be more comfortable together in that big, upholstered chair over there.” The old woman shuffled to the soft, stuffed chair next to the window, and sat down carefully with the rabbit on her lap. The sun shone through the window, warming them both.
“This big chair fits the two of us just right doesn’t it?” Harriet said, looking down at the furry bundle on her lap, her wrinkled old eyes soft now.
The rabbit looked up at her and twitched it’s tiny, pink nose. It turned it’s head and sniffed at the carrots she was holding. Then it poked it’s rabbity nose into the bag of carrots to nibble at one.
“You are hungry!” Harriet said, pulling out the carrot for him. “These carrots look good enough to eat. I think I’ll have one too.” So, the old woman and the rabbit crunched and nibbled their sweet, orange carrots. Then they each had another one, until the carrots were all gone.
“That was delicious,” said Harriet, looking down at the bunny in her lap. It wiggled it’s ears at her as if in agreement. “Much better than those hard, old crackers, eh?” The tiny rabbit looked up at her with big, warm bunny eyes. “I really don’t need a pet,” she said softly, as she stroked it’s head, But she smiled at it and the bunny snuggled more deeply into her arms.
As they sat together in the big, soft chair, the sun moved across the window frame and dipped down behind the trees. The old woman leaned her head back and yawned a big yawn. The bunny opened it’s mouth and yawned a tiny, rabbit yawn. “Guess it’s time we went to sleep,” the old woman said to the bunny.
Harriet picked it up, cradling it in one arm as she pushed herself up out of the chair. Then she shuffled slowly into her bedroom. There were two beds, the hard, old bed she usually slept in and the soft, cozy bed beside it. She went straight to the soft bed, pulling back the billowy down comforter. “We’ll be comfortable here,” she said, as she settled the bunny onto the warm blanket. She changed into her comfy, flannel nightgown then crawled in beside the bunny, pulling the downy comforter over them both.
The bunny snuggled in next to her with just it’s head and ears poking out from under the blanket.
Harriet stroked it’s soft, white fur. The bunny closed it’s eyes. “I don’t need a pet; but I do need a friend like you,” the old woman said softly. Then she closed her eyes and went to sleep in her cozy, warm bed with her soft, new friend beside her.
All 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 hungry cats leapt from the floor in the kitchen up onto the counter, then down onto the floor again, rubbing against the woman’s legs and tripping her as she tried to walk in to the pantry to get their breakfast. They yowled at her loudly about how very hungry they were, and how they must be fed, and they must be fed now! Meow! Now!
Daisy, much more polite than the cats, lay down quietly in the doorway to the kitchen and waited patiently for her breakfast.
The old woman lined five, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 kitty dishes on top of the old steam radiator in the kitchen because it was the only place that the cats wouldn’t jump up onto and knock everything over while she was trying to fill their dishes.
She opened the cabinet door in the pantry where the cat food was stored. One cat, a big, white, boy cat with black spots, named Tom, climbed right into the cabinet amongst the bags and boxes and cans, to try to get the food out for himself. The woman laughed and pulled him out, then reached for the big, blue bag of dry cat food.
The large bag, crinkled in her hand and all 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 cats meowed loudly that they should be eating that food right now! The woman walked carefully over to the radiator with the bag held high in her hand as all five cats wove in and out between her feet. She unrolled the top of the bag, making more wonderful crinkling noises and smiling as the cats meowed in response.
She put the right amount of food in each dish and quickly as she could, set all the dishes on the floor for the cats. The cats tumbled over each other to get to the dishes. Tom pushed the others out of the way and tried to eat out of their dishes. The old woman had to keep picking Tom up and setting him back at his own dish.
Finally, with the cats happily eating their breakfast, the old woman got out Daisy’s bowl and filled it with her favorite meal, Doggie Delight. Daisy stood up in anticipation and wagged her shaggy, brown tail, politely. “There you are, my patient girl,” the woman said, and placed the big, green bowl on the floor in front of the dog.
Then the woman sat down on the stool at the kitchen counter with her head resting in her hand. She started thinking about what she would like for her own breakfast, when she felt 1, 2, 3, 4 , 5 warm, furry cats rubbing against her leg, and heard 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 cat meows singing through the air asking, “!s it lunchtime yet?”
Every so often a children's story comes knocking at the door of my heart and asks, like Pinocchio, to be made real, taking on form and life in our world.