word (n): a sound or combination of sounds that has a meaning
“Free Rabbit with Purchase of Two Bushels of Oranges”
Worda Day glared at the cardboard sign, cursing the magic markered words. She was so busy plotting that she failed to notice the body taking up the bench across from her in the worn booth of Rollie’s Diner.
“What’s the word?”
Worda turned her glare on her company. Toddy Seen was covered in freckles and a little pudgy and the closest thing Worda had to a friend in the small beach town of Pentrow. He was used to his friend’s weird moods, choosing to take a fry from her plate and join her in glaring out the window.
“Who’s our enemy today?”
“Dictator Orange over there,” she nodded out the window.
Toddy quickly noticed the mustached man across the street standing next to a table overflowing with oranges and the three worn boxes at his feet bursting with white and brown fur.
“You want a rabbit? Or an orange?” Toddy thought that was ridiculous. There wasn’t anything Worda hated more than oranges.
“I want to be rid of the shame of having an insane crook in our town. Who in their right mind would buy two bushels of oranges?”
“My mom probably would. She just got a new juicer and–”
“You’re not listening, Toddy. When you claim to be giving something away for “free”, you should have even a glimpse of an understanding of the word. Those poor bunnies aren’t “free.” They’re trapped in that horrible box until some lunatic decides to buy an inordinately large amount of oranges. Do you think that’s right?”
Toddy sighed. He knew where this was going.
“Can I finish the fries first?”
He’s met with a glare he’d rather be kept aimed out the window and across the street, and quickly got up.
Worda dropped a few bucks on the table before looking around. Coast was clear. She stood up and followed a good ten paces behind her friend. She crossed the street, pretending as if she were going to pass right by the injustices happening in the middle of town, when she doubled back and ducked behind a tree.
Toddy distracted the mustached man, directing his full attention away from the boxes.
“So you say these oranges are good for juicing? What’s the pulp ratio?”
Worda huffed when she caught Toddy’s inquiries, sure that he was actually buying his mom some of the evil citrus.
She slowly crawled to the boxes and, when she was sure it was the opportune moment, she acted.
With a flick of her wrists, she tipped two of the boxes over onto their sides before doing the same to the third box. White rabbits. Brown rabbits. Freckled rabbits. They all flipped and freaked and snorted at the sudden disturbance, falling to the grass.
“Go! Run free, little furry bunnies!” Worda’s hushed encouragements accompanied her pushing a few towards the wooded area feet away.
But they didn’t move far, choosing to graze on the grass instead.
“What are you doing?!” The mustached man was mad. He stormed towards Worda.
But she stood her ground. Metaphorically, of course, because she was still sprawled out on the grass from crawling over to the rabbits.
“You’ll not be spreading your bunny slavery and orange propaganda here, you–”
She stopped short, beginning to point out what the mustached man had failed to notice: the overturned ex-bunny prison. Kicking his foot into it, he moved to stomp closer but instead tripped, grabbing onto anything he could.
Which happened to be the corner of the basket holding the oranges on the tables.
Orange masses of fury spilled everywhere, bouncing on the pavement, rolling into the street, and falling on top of the bunny’s grazing area like extremely large fireballs sent from heaven, startling the creatures. Their back legs moved faster than their bodies could, causing them to fall all over each other as they quickly made their fearful way into the woods.
Worda lay sprawled out on the ground. Oranges everywhere. Though she was surrounded by that which she hated most, they were instrumental in the Rabbit Emancipation of 1999.
Toddy strolled up, collecting the oranges off the ground and into his backpack.
That was the last Pentrow saw of the Orange Dictator. The town’s rabbits were free from overcrowding and free to make more little rabbits in the woods.
All because a girl named Worda questioned the meaning of the word “free”.
© Kaitlyn Mackenzie