The New Family
After Lavi’s parents were captured, he was sent to live with his parents’ friends, the Hyder family. He was a little nervous, because he was a lion and they were rabbits. What if he accidentally ate somebody? He was relieved to learn that wasn’t possible, and soon felt at home with his new family.
He made new friends, but still got phone calls from his old friends, too. Unfortunately, not all of his old friends were willing to accept his new friends and family. He was tired of the jokes and mean comments.
His latest phone call with Leander was pretty typical. “Hey Lavi,” Leander said. “Invite me over to eat…I mean meet…your new family.” Leander laughed as though he hadn’t said the exact same joke the last three times they’d talked.
“Fine,” Lavi said. “Invite Lelle to come too. Meet my new family. I think you’ll be surprised.”
“Your loss, Lavi,” Leander said. “Just kidding. We’ll come. Just say when.”
Lavi arranged the visit with Mrs. Hyder. A week later, he met Leander and Lelle at the bus stop. “Wow, you’re really out in the middle of nowhere, aren’t you?” Lelle asked.
“Have you eaten anyone yet?” Leander asked.
“Of course not,” Lavi said. They started walking.
“Doesn’t your new family have a car?” Lelle asked.
“Of course they do,” Lavi said. “They just really, really believe in the importance of exercise.”
It took a while to finally reach the gate at the end of the driveway. Lavi entered the code at the gate and it slowly slid open. He guided his friends through the maze of traps and obstacles. “Is it always like this?” Leander asked.
“Yeah,” Lavi said. “It’s fun.”
They had to rescue Lelle from a net that trapped her high in a tree. Leander lost an inch of fur on his tail when he stepped on the wrong brick in the garden path. Both of them had a hard time swinging on the rope over the snake pit at the heart of the hedge maze.
“Isn’t there a shortcut?” Lelle asked.
“Yes,” Lavi said, “but I’ve never quite figured out fire walking, so I’d rather avoid it.”
At the front door, tiny bunnies dressed in black and bristling with weapons surrounded them. “Are you novices or intruders?” A bunny asked.
“Do you know the password?” Another asked.
“You’re taking too long,” a third said. He poked Leander in the calf with a needle, and Leander crumpled.
“Kevin! They’re guests,” Lavi said.
“Sorry,” the little bunny said. He lifted Leander with one arm as though he weighed nothing. “I’ll take him to the parlor.”
He walked off, but the other bunnies pressed in closer. “Do your guests want to spar, Lavi? We’re between missions,” one asked.
“I’ll let you know. Leander will probably have to recover first,” Lavi said.
“Fine, fine. Remind him not to eat pineapple for two weeks, okay?” The bunny said. Then all the little bunnies melted into the bushes.
“Where did they go?” Lelle asked.
“Oh, they’re still here somewhere,” Lavi said. “Let’s go inside and find Leander.”
Leander was sitting on the sofa, clutching his head. “What happened?” he asked.
“You were taken out by little ninja assassins,” Lelle said. “Honestly, Lavi, you could have warned us.”
“Warned you about what?” Lavi asked.
“The traps and killer bunnies for starters. I mean, that’s not normal, Lavi,” Lelle said.
Leander groaned. “Quieter please. I think my head may split open.”
“My family was just like this. I found out my parents worked with the Hyders. It was such a relief to know that I’d fit right in,” Lavi said.
“Your house was like this?” Leander said.
“Yeah, but my parents never let me have anyone over. The Hyders are so friendly and welcoming. Sometimes I worry people will take advantage of them,” Lavi said.
Mrs. Hyder appeared at his elbow. “Oh, thank you Lavi. Don’t worry about us, though. We’ll be fine. Would your friends like some cookies?” A tray appeared out of nowhere. Leander and Lelle cautiously reached out for the treats. “Oh, don’t take the coconut ones dears, unless you’re immune to arsenic. I put those out for Lavi.”
Leander and Lelle pulled their hands back. Lavi took a coconut cookie with a smile. “Thank you, Mrs. Hyder. You’re very kind.” He bit into his cookie and munched happily.
Lelle smiled a weird sort of smile. “Hey, Lavi? I’m not feeling so good. Do you know when the next bus leaves?”
Leander stood up. “I’ll walk you there, Lelle,” he said. “We could leave now and wait at the station.”
“You just got here,” Lavi said.
“And we had a very lovely time,” Leander said.
“Thanks for inviting us, Lavi,” Lelle said. “Now show us the way out, please.”
“Fine,” Lavi said. “Thank you for coming. Now let’s go.”
His old friends didn’t have anything bad to say about his new friends and family after that. They also called a lot less often.