By Sara E Williams
Update: After publishing this story online, Sara’s aunt mailed her an original copy of Fluffy Bunny that she had saved for over 30 years. We were surprised to learn that Fluffy Bunny had an alternate ending. Sara’s not sure why she changed the ending because they both seem very good. Let us know which ending you like best in the comments below.
One bright summer morning, Fluffy Bunny was just finishing her breakfast of carrot pancakes and carrot juice when she heard her mother calling her from outside.
“Fluffy, where are you?” called her Mama. “Come here, I want to…”
“Here I am,” said Fluffy, emerging from the house, “what did you want?”
“Can you do me a favor?” asked Mama.
“Sure!” replied Fluffy.
“Could you please take this letter to the other side of the garden and mail it for me?” asked Mama. “It’s a very important letter; I’m counting on you to deliver it safely, Fluffy.”
“All right, Mama, I’ll do it right away!” exclaimed Fluffy as Mama handed her the letter.
“Wait a minute, Fluffy,” Mama said as Fluffy was just about to run out of the yard. “Please be very careful with this letter and be sure that nothing happens to it. It’s VERY important.”
“Okay, Mama, don’t worry, you can count on me!” Fluffy cheerfully said. She turned, ran out of the front gate, and set off down Cottontail Lane.
Fluffy Bunny was very excited that her Mama had given her such an important thing to do. She was trusting her to mail this very important letter. Fluffy wondered what was so important about it, but knew better than to read someone else’s mail. The only thing that mattered to Fluffy was getting this letter mailed safely for her Mama. She couldn’t let her down.
Fluffy was finally off of the country road that came from her family’s hutch and was on the main road that led to the middle of the garden. Sometimes this could be a dangerous road because of all the unexpected things that could happen to bunnies. Other bunnies had seen snakes and even humans by this road before. One old bunny said that he had even seen the spider here. This spider was the meanest and most threatening thing in the garden and was feared by everyone. Though only one bunny had seen him before, they all believed that he existed. Everyone except for Fluffy’s Mama, that is. She said that there was no such thing as a big, ugly spider that roamed the garden scaring bunnies. She said it was just a story that some bunny made up and now everyone believed it. Fluffy thought she might be right, but Fluffy really didn’t know what to believe.
As she walked further into the garden, Fluffy began to believe what her mother had said was true. Of course, there was nothing so terrible as a big, ugly spider that went around scaring other bunnies, Fluffy told herself. She tried to keep thinking that thought, because as she went along, she became more and more frightened, until she was so scared that she stopped and sat still to calm down. As Fluffy sat there on the road, she realized what a silly bunny she was being, believing that there was a spider roaming through the garden. Fluffy got up and kept going on her way down the road. Besides, her Mama had trusted her to go out and mail this letter for her all by herself, which would mean she wouldn’t be worried about her running into a spider along the way. She knew that Fluffy was a big bunny now because today was her…
“Boo!” hissed a scratchy voice.
Fluffy Bunny jumped back in surprise. There, right in front of her stood a big, ugly spider! The big, ugly spider that everyone was afraid of. It was even uglier than Fluffy had imagined. It had two long, sharp fangs hanging on each side of its drooling, uneven mouth. It was black and hairy all over with eight legs sticking out in all directions.
“Hee hee hee,” cackled the spider, “so what do we have here? A nice little bunny who is out on this spooky road all alone? What ARE you doing, little one?”
“Don’t say that,” said Fluffy gathering up her pride. “I’m NOT little, why today I’m…”
“Don’t get off the subject,” the spider replied. “I believe I asked you what you were doing here?”
“My Mama sent me out all by myself to mail a very important letter,” responded Fluffy. “She is counting on me to deliver it safely for her; she is depending on me.”
“Oh, I see,” said the spider, who was now looking less scary than at first. “Well, since your Mama trusts you so much, I’m sure she would trust me, too!”
The spider snatched the letter away from Fluffy and disappeared back into the bushes just as suddenly as he had appeared.
“Oh no!” cried Fluffy, “This is terrible! What will I tell Mama? She doesn’t believe there is a spider. Oh no!”
Poor Fluffy! She finally decided to go after the spider and get the letter back. After all, Mama had trusted HER to mail the letter. So now she would have to get it back from the spider. So Fluffy set off into the bushes to look for the spider.
A long time passed since Fluffy had started to look for the spider, and she was beginning to get tired and hungry. She sat down for a while to rest and to find out where she was. She had been so determined to find the spider, she had lost track of where she was going and now she was lost. Fluffy couldn’t seem to find her way back to the road, and after a while, she gave up looking. She sat down on the unfamiliar soil and began to cry, her long, soggy tears falling to the ground.
Fluffy must have fallen asleep because the next thing she knew it was getting dark and a familiar voice was calling her name.
“Fluffy? Fluffy Bunny? Is that you?” called the voice. Fluffy looked up and saw her best friend in the whole garden standing above her.
It was Miss Ladybird.
“Miss Ladybird!” cried Fluffy getting up from the ground. “Am I glad to see you! But what are you doing way out here?”
“No, Fluffy, the question is what are YOU doing way out here?” replied Miss Ladybird.
“Well,” began Fluffy, “you see, Mama sent me off this morning to mail a very important letter for her. On my way, the spider stopped me and took Mama’s letter. Mama was counting on me to mail it for her, so I tried to find the spider and get it back. I got lost while I was looking. I was hungry and tired, so I sat down. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, it was getting dark and you were here.”
“I see,” said Miss Ladybird, who had been listening very attentively throughout the whole story. “Would you like me to help you find that spider and get your Mama’s letter back, Fluffy?”
“Oh, would you?” asked Fluffy. Miss Ladybird nodded. “Thank you so much! You are my very best friend.”
“Well, thank you Fluffy, ” said Miss Ladybird, “I am glad to help. Now, where should we start looking? I know, let’s go ask the rose bushes if they’ve seen that mean old spider.”
Fluffy Bunny and Miss Ladybird went back through the bushes and came to the road. They headed north through the garden to the roses, which were in the front of the garden. It didn’t take them long to get there, and once they found the roses, they began asking questions.
Roses can sometimes be the rudest flowers in all the garden. They think they’re prettiest and therefore the best. Fluffy and Miss Ladybird knew this but were hoping the roses would be helpful.
“Pardon me,” said Miss Ladybird, “but we are looking for the spider that lives in the garden. Have you happened to notice if he’s come this way?”
The roses talked among themselves for a while. Fluffy and Miss Ladybird were beginning to become impatient and were about to leave when the red one in the middle came out of the discussion and straightened up.
“Maybe we have, and maybe we haven’t,” replied the red rose. The other roses behind her giggled.
“Can you tell us one way or the other?” pleaded Miss Ladybird. “This is very important and we must know.”
“Why should we choose to speak to these two garden creatures if they plan on being impolite?” said the red rose to the other roses. “Why, they expect us to tell them this very important information and they didn’t even say please.”
Miss Ladybird was beginning to get angry. The roses had decided to be unkind and snobbish today, or so she thought.
“All right,” said Miss Ladybird, trying to stay calm, “PLEASE, would you be so kind as to PLEASE tell us if you have seen the spider come this way, PLEASE?”
“Well!” exclaimed the red rose. “There is no need to become smart about this, one please will do just fine.”
“PLEASE,” cried Miss Ladybird. “Will you tell us if you have seen the spider come this way?”
“No,” replied the red rose. “We haven’t.” And with that, she folded up her petals into a bud.
“Well,” exclaimed Miss Ladybird, “I never have run across such rude flowers in the whole garden. Come on Fluffy, maybe the pansies will be a little more helpful.”
Fluffy Bunny and Miss Ladybird went back on the road they had come from. Then they traveled down to one of the far corners of the garden to where the pansies were planted. Upon arrival, they asked the pansies if they had seen the spider. All of them said they hadn’t, but agreed to watch for him and let them know if they saw him. Fluffy and Miss Ladybird had turned around and were starting back down the road again when they heard a muffled voice calling them.
“Hey, hey, come back!” cried the voice as best as it could. “Come back!”
The startled pair turned around and saw a lone pansy in the back of the flower bed frantically waving her leaves all about. They returned to the pansy bed and made their way to the back where the pansy was waiting.
“What is it?” inquired Miss Ladybird.
“Oh, you just must know, yes you must!” cried the excited pansy. “I couldn’t help but overhear you talking to the others about the spider, no I couldn’t, and I tried to tell you, yes I did, but being at the back as I am you must not have heard me, no you must not have.”
“Well, no we didn’t,” explained Miss Ladybird. “What is it that you were going to say?”
“Well you see,” began the pansy, “I was just sitting here taking in the afternoon sunshine, minding my own business, yes I was, when I feel this thing brush past my left side, yes it did. Well, no sooner had I looked around did I see that this thing was a spider, yes it was, and it appeared to be in a hurry, too, yes it did. I didn’t take much notice of it, no I didn’t, but I do remember it happening, that’s for sure.”
“My,” said Miss Ladybird, “it is good you stopped us to tell us all of that. Now could you be so kind as to direct us in the way he was going?”
“Why, Miss, as I said before I didn’t take much notice of him, but I sure do remember his going by, I do, I do, I do. Now, let me think.” So the pansy thought, and thought, and thought, and pretty soon Fluffy thought that she was never going to remember. But she thought, and thought, and thought some more, and then she remembered.
“Oh, oh, I know!” exclaimed the pansy. “The afternoon sun is to the right of me, yes it is, and when he passed he was in my shadow, to the left of me, yes he was, which means he went that way, yes indeed.”
The pansy was pointing her leaves straight ahead of her to the front corner of the garden, the corner by the human house.
“Thank you very much,” said Miss Ladybird. She and Fluffy then dashed away before the pansy had any time to say anything else.
Fluffy and Miss Ladybird ran as fast as they could in order to try and catch up with the spider. So in no time at all, or so it seemed, they were already in the front of the garden, commonly known as the “people place”. There were many times that Fluffy had seen humans there, almost always doing different things. But perhaps the most memorable time for Fluffy was when she had been there with all of the other bunnies in the garden. They were all watching a big event, what Fluffy’s Mama had called a wedding, and there were a lot of humans around. There had been a pretty lady all dressed in white and a man who was in a black suit. All of the other humans there were dressed up, too. The lady dressed in white sang a song, a song that Fluffy really liked. Sometimes her Mama would sing it to her before she went to sleep. Fluffy now realized how tired she was getting and wished she was home in bed with her Mama singing to her. Fluffy thought about this as she and Miss Ladybird continued walking through the garden.
Suddenly, Miss Ladybird stopped and gasped. Fluffy looked over and then froze in her tracks. They both had just seen the spider running across the road ahead of them, then disappearing into the bushes.
“Let’s get him!” cried Fluffy. She and Miss Ladybird wasted no time in running ahead to where they had last seen the spider and headed into the bushes.
They had been running for a long time, and soon they came to the road that led to Fluffy’s hutch. Unfortunately, they didn’t see the spider.
“I’m sorry,” said Miss Ladybird. “We’ve lost him and it’s getting dark. I’m afraid that we will just have to tell your Mama what happened. I’m sure she’ll understand.”
“I guess you’re right,” said Fluffy sadly. “Thanks for your help, Miss Ladybird.”
“You’re welcome,” said Miss Ladybird. “Now, I must take my leave. You go ahead to your house and tell your Mama, Fluffy.”
Miss Ladybird left and Fluffy stood at the end of the road for a while. She thought about running away so she wouldn’t have to tell Mama what had happened. Then she thought about finding the spider and getting the letter. These didn’t seem like very good choices to Fluffy, so she decided to just go home and tell her. Fluffy Bunny started off down Cottontail Lane very slowly, dragging her big bunny feet all the way down the road. Soon she was at her hutch. Fluffy opened the door and peeked around it.
“Mama?” said Fluffy in a shaky voice. The hutch was very dark inside, and Fluffy couldn’t see anything. “Mama, are you here?” she called.
Suddenly, the lights turned on and a chorus of voices yelled “Surprise!” and “Happy birthday!”
Fluffy couldn’t have been more shocked. She was so busy trying to get the letter back she had forgotten that today was her birthday. Fluffy’s Mama came out of the crowd and gave her a great big hug.
“Happy birthday, Fluffy!” she said. “What’s wrong?” she asked when she saw the sad expression on Fluffy’s face.
“Oh, it’s terrible,” said Fluffy, “just terrible. I lost the letter, Mama. The spider came out of the bushes and took it from me. I knew you wouldn’t believe the spider was in the garden, so I spent all afternoon trying to get the letter back so I wouldn’t have to tell you about it. I looked and looked, Miss Ladybird even helped me, but we never found him. I’m really sorry, I know that must have been an important letter.”
Poor Fluffy was in tears. Her Mama just smiled sweetly and gave her another hug.
“Why, Fluffy,” she said, “you didn’t do anything bad. That letter was only a birthday invitation for your very best friend, Miss Ladybird. But, look, you found her, and she’s here right now. So she didn’t even need it. Besides, the main reason I sent you to mail it was so I could set up for the party without you here to see it. It was just something to occupy you so you wouldn’t suspect the surprise party.” *
“Really?” said Fluffy, who was now cheering up. “That’s a relief. I thought I would be in big trouble. But what about the spider? Do you believe that he exists now?”
“I knew he existed all along, Fluffy,” explained Mama. “I have seen him before myself, I just never said so because I didn’t want to scare you.
The spider’s not all that big anyway; he probably couldn’t hurt any one of us. Now, let’s forget this spider nonsense and have some cake.”
Mama took Fluffy by the paw and led her to the carrot cake. Mama lit the six candles that were on it. Fluffy made a wish, took a big breath, then blew out every candle.
“What did you wish for?” questioned her friends.
“Oh I can’t tell you what I wished for,” said Fluffy, “because then it might not come true. I can tell you one thing, though, I DO wish that I never have to mail another letter for the rest of my life!”
Everyone laughed. Soon, Fluffy had forgotten all about her exhausting day and was running around with her friends and playing games. In fact, she was so busy that she didn’t even notice a spidery arm return a letter by slipping it underneath the front door.
…Suddenly, the lights turned on and a chorus of voices yelled “Surprise!” and “Happy birthday!”
With everything else that had happened that day, Fluffy had almost forgotten that it was her birthday today. Fluffy’s mama came out of the crowd and gave her a big hug.
“Mama,” said Fluffy, “the spider took your important letter.”
“That’s okay,” said Mama, “it was his anyway.”
“You mean he’s our friend?” asked Fluffy, confused.
“Yes,” said Mama, “we met yesterday when I was passing out invitations for your party. I’m sorry if he scared you, but we had to get you out of the house so we could set up. You are surprised, aren’t you?”
“Of course I am, Mama,” said Fluffy.
Just then Fluffy saw Miss Ladybird and the pansies come in. They all wished her a very happy birthday, then went off to play games with the others.
The carrot cake was soon brought out, and Fluffy made a wish, then she blew out all of the candles. Everyone cheered.
“What did you wish for?” asked everyone.
“I wished that all of you would be my friends forever,” said Fluffy.
Everyone sang Fluffy’s favorite song, her bedtime song, then they all had cake and ice cream.
“This is the best birthday ever!” said Fluffy. She then went off to play games hand in hand with her new friend, spider.
About the illustrations
Scott drew the pictures. For the first time, he did his drawings digitally using an iPad Pro and Adobe Sketch. He mimicked Beatrice Potter’s style and some of her characters, like Mama Bunny. It was a good exercise to appreciate how amazing of an illustrator she was. It would have taken a really long time to achieve a similar mastery of her style using her tools and designing new characters.