January 16 – Optimism
Today’s prompt for Linda Hill’s Just-Jot-It January 2023, OPTIMISM, invites continuation of a new serial about two kids, named Jack and Jill, who fall through a magical stained glass window at the top of a reputedly haunted tower, and land in a bucolic realm, with rolling hills, distant castle, and a gathering of tan-and-brown striped rabbits with red eyes. Whether these rabbits are a fluffle or a colony has yet to be discovered…
We’re about half way through the month, but if you want to play (read others’ posts and/or write your own) here is where you go to join in! If you want to read others’ responses, visit the comments here (https://lindaghill.com/2023/01/16/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-16th-2023/ , and visit (June @ https://jaquintinwriter.wordpress.com/ ) who provided today’s prompt word.
Jack smiled back at Jill uncertainly. She stood in front of him, seeming to smile, but her fists on her hips, over the stiff dirndl, and her tight blond braids sticking straight out from her red face, belied that impression. She looked more like a pissed off Heidi, not the tight-jeaned, spaghetti-strapped popular girl he’d brought to the tower.
“Um, in answer to your question, Jill? Optimism says it might be worth climbing that hill again, just to see if we can find any sign of where the portal was before it disappeared. And if there was some way we could mark the spot…” He eyed her linen headscarf with the bright blue ribbon, then looked around for a thick branch. He saw nothing but clover and long grass rippling in the steady breeze, and rabbits…a sizable group of rabbits, striped brown and tawny blond. They nibbled the clover, then hopped after each bite, like popcorn sizzling in grease, closer and closer to Jack and Jill.
“Okay, don’t freak out,’ he whispered to Jill “but I think those rabbits are watching us.” One of the rabbits, larger than the rest with a shredded ear, looked up at him. Its eyes flashed red. “Maybe we should head toward that distant castle, instead?”
“Nonsense,” murmured Jill. “They’re just cute little bunny rabbits.” Stepping toward the group, she called out, sweet voiced, “Aren’t you just the cutest things?”
And then she shrieked.
In one movement, all the rabbits stood up on their hind legs, front paws fisted in front of their snowy chests, and glared at her with their red eyes.
Jack grabbed Jill’s arm to keep her from running, and reached with his other hand into the pocket of his blue jeans-turned-lederhosen, hoping that the switchblade had made it through the portal with him. It was there, and he pulled it out slowly, but didn’t snap it open.
“Well, that was unexpected,” Jill noted, shaking his hand off. “I wonder what they want?” She looked around for something to ward them off, but saw only a tumbled pair of buckets and a short shoulder-yoke to carry them. She knelt and pulled the buckets toward her, setting them upright.
“We are not cute,” one of the rabbits called out, his bass voice sounding quite annoyed. “We are to be feared! Queen Buttermilk, in yon castle, has named us as her Royal Lepus Legionnaires. We protect her valley with our very lives!”
“Oh get over it Ronald,” said another of the rabbits, slender, silky ears unscathed. “Don’t be such a pill. Do those two look like any kind of a threat?”
Ronald looked at the two teens, the boy in scuffed lederhosen and embroidered shirt, his muddy paw wrapped around some kind of short stick, straw stuck in yellow hair that went every which way, the girl in a dirndl and headscarf, her white tights puddling into wooden shoes. He shrugged, as much as a rabbit can shrug. “Point well taken, Betsy.”
It seemed they were at an impasse.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2023)