I'm very excited to share the first chapter of Book Two of the Rabbit Ate My Series (coming in 2015)!
Time to Go
I stare at my computer screen and sigh. On the screen, a picture of a super-cool looking space station hovers in front of a swirling alien planet and a vast starry background. Above it, in large glowing green letters it reads, "Galaxy Guilds: Connect. Construct. Conquer." Beneath it, a countdown timer ticks down the minutes. 20:42:16. Less than a day until the coolest game of the year--the game my best friend Quentin and I have been waiting ages to play--finally releases, and am I going to be around to play it? Nope.
I'm going to be stuck in a camper with my annoying little sister, Libby, and my grandparents in a campground in the middle of nowhere. Why? Because Mom has to go to a conference in Hawaii for her job at the insurance company and Dad is going, too. So that means nobody will be here to take care of me and Libby. And since Nana and Papa are going camping this week, they thought we should come with them. Oh, and did I mention this camping trip is an annual thing Nana and Papa do every year with a bunch of other old people they've known since Dad was a kid?
I sigh again.
Just then a Skype message chirps. It's Quentin.
Qchow99: Galaxy Guilds is gonna be so lame without u
Qchow99: Why u no ask ur mom and dad to stay with me?
Me: I did but they said no
Qchow99: How long r u gonna be gone?
Me: A week
Qchow99: U gonna have Skype?
Qchow99: Lemme know if u do
Me: I will
I exit Skype and power off my computer. I was so excited last year when Dad let me have his old desktop from work, but now I wish I'd held out for a laptop instead. At least I could bring a laptop with me. Maybe there'd even be WiFi at the campsite. At least I've still got my iPod. It won't be the same as having my computer and I can't play Galaxy Guilds, but I've got some games and music and books on it so I hopefully won't be totally bored.
"Are you packed yet, Drew?" Mom sticks her head into my room. Her arms are full of clean laundry and several coathangers are hooked over elbow.
I glance at the half-empty suitcase on my bed. "I, uh, just about."
Mom's eyebrows scrunch together. "Seriously, Drew, I don't have time to pack for you. If you forget anything, you're going to have to do without it. Toothbrush, hairbrush, socks, underwear. And don't forget your bathing suit. Now hurry up. You still need to set up Tiny's pen." She turns and heads down the hall towards her bedroom.
I plop down on my bed. I do not want to pack. I do not want to go. But I know stalling won't do much except get me yelled at. I yank open my dresser, grab some clothes and stuff them in the suitcase. I fetch my toothbrush from the bathroom, grab my pillow, stick my iPod in my pocket and call it good. Other than a laptop, I can't think of anything else I'd want to bring with me anyway.
Then I head downstairs to take care of the rabbit. At least somebody gets to stay home this week.
I set the bowl I've just filled with water at the laundry room sink in the bottom of the pen and stand back to survey my handiwork. Litter box, check. Food bowls, check. Rack full of hay, check. Cat jingle ball, check. Toilet paper tube stuffed with newspaper, check. Doll’s bed with fleece blanket, check. Only thing missing: Tiny himself.
“Tiny!” I yell up the stairs. “Come on, Tiny! I’ve got a treat for you!”
I listen for a moment. No thunder of rabbit feet galloping across the floor above me. No whiskery nose appearing at the top of the stairs. Where is that silly animal?
I head up to the living room.
No Tiny on the couch, his usual hangout. No Tiny in the kitchen, waiting for the fridge to open. No Tiny asleep on my bed either.
I head for her room. Just as I suspected. My annoying little sister has the rabbit. She also has a giant duffel bag on her bed and is trying to squeeze the rabbit inside it. He doesn’t seem too impressed with the idea as he keeps hopping out every time she tries to zip it up.
“Just what do you think you’re doing?” I demand.
Libby looks up at me, her eyes going wide, then her lower lip pokes out. “We can’t leave Tiny!” She gives me that look--the one she always gives Mom before she asks for a new Barbie doll.
“Oh, please, don’t start. We cannot bring that rabbit with us. Nana and Papa have said he has to stay here.”
“But he’ll be cold and lonely and scared. He won’t know where we are!” Libby's lip quivers.
“He’ll be fine. He’ll be safe and sound in his pen in the laundry room. He’ll eat hay and poop in his litter box and will be happy as a rabbit can be. Besides, Tabitha will come by and feed him every day.” Tabitha is in my grade and knows all about rabbits. She has two pet rabbits, Lolly and Oscar. I used to think she was weird, since she likes to wear men’s clothes and old shoes, but now we’re pretty good friends. And just friends.
"But he doesn't know that!” Libby sets her hands on her hips, daring me to argue with her. “He might think we've left him. Like his last owners did!"
"He’s a rabbit! He doesn’t think like that!" I roll my eyes. "He'll be fine. Now come on. Let's go. Nana and Papa will be waiting for us."
As if on cue, Dad yells from downstairs, “Drew! Libby! Time to go!”
“Look, we need to go.” I cross the room and hoist the rabbit off the bed. He plants his front paws on my shoulder and nibbles my hair. “Stop that, you crazy rabbit.” I push his head away. “C’mon. I’ve got your pen set up really nice for you.” He bumps my ear with his nose and his whiskers tickle. I carry him downstairs. Libby trails behind me, her lower lip jutting out.
In the laundry room, I set Tiny in his pen. He flips his ears at me and hops around the pen, first sniffing and then rubbing his chin on his litter box, food bowls, hay rack, and toys. He nudges the small, plastic cat ball with his nose, sending it jingling across the concrete floor. Then he sits on his haunches, cocks his head and looks up at Libby and me, one ear swivelling toward us like a satellite dish.
“What?” I say. “You’ve got everything you need right here. Okay, maybe not the couch. But you’ll be fine. Stop looking at me like that.”
He wiggles his tail and hops over to his hay rack and starts munching.
“See, Libby? He’ll be just fine.”
Libby doesn’t say anything. She just stands there glaring at me, her arms crossed.
“Drew?! Libby?!" Dad's voice is louder, more impatient. "Your grandparents are waiting!"
"Coming!" I yell back. I nudge Libby. "Let's go."
She doesn't move. "I want to say goodbye to Tiny."
I sigh. "Suit yourself." I lean over and give the rabbit a scratch between his giant ears. "See you in seven days, rabbit. Be good." Then I run upstairs, leaving Tiny and Libby behind.
Dad meets me at the front door. "Where's your sister?"
"Saying goodbye to the rabbit."
"Well, she better hurry up or she's going to get left." He grabs the last suitcase from the front hall. "Got everything?"
I pat my pocket with my iPod. “I think so.”
Outside, Papa is hooking the last bungee cord holding my bike in place onto the back of the RV trailer. He grabs the seat and gives it a good shake. “Well, that should do it,” he says with a grin. “Ready to go, Drew?”
I force myself to grin back at him. "Yeah, I'm ready."
Dad is packing the car with the last of his and Mom’s suitcases. Mom is giving Nana a list of last-minute instructions for taking care of Libby and me. Nana puts a hand on Mom’s shoulder. “It’ll be all right, Jessica. We managed to raise Todd and his brother, remember?”
Mom gives Nana a weak smile. “I know, I just--”
“Can’t stop being a mom?” Nana gives her shoulder a squeeze. “Go. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Wayne and I have got this.”
“C’mon, Libby!” Papa calls. “Where is that girl?” I can tell the adults are getting fed up with her and we haven’t even started driving yet.
“I’ll go find her,” Mom says. She’s about to head into the house when Libby appears from around the far side of the trailer.
“There you are,” Mom says. “It's time to go.”
"I was making sure Tiny wouldn't be lonely."
"Tiny will be fine," Mom says. "Tabitha will be by to check on him after supper."
"You locked his pen, right?" Dad frowns at me.
"Yup." I nod my head, then glance at Libby. "It's locked, right?"
Libby rolls her eyes. "Yes, Drew."
"And you made sure he’s got hay and water?" Dad says.
"I stuffed his rack full," I say.
“All right, then. We need to get going if your mom and I are going to catch our flight.”
Mom wraps Libby and me in a hug so big I feel like I’m going to suffocate. “Be good for your grandparents. You can send a text to Dad and me anytime you need to, okay?” Then she kisses us both on the cheek and lets us go.
Dad ruffles my hair. “Take care of your sister.”
He lifts Libby into his arms and tickles her, making her squeal. “Take care of your brother.”
Libby wraps her arms around his neck. "Bye, Daddy. Have fun in Hawaii."
"Well, then I guess we're off." Mom says.
Mom and Dad say goodbye to Nana and Papa, make sure the front door is locked, then climb into the car. We wave as they pull out of the driveway and don't stop until they turn the corner at the end of the street.
“All right, everybody aboard the Montgomery Express!” Papa booms.
Libby and I scramble into the back seat of the truck and buckle up.
Nana and Papa climb into the front and Papa fires up the engine.
"Okie doke. Off to Long Beach we go!" Papa says and we pull away from the curb.
I glance back at the house. I hope Tiny won't be too lonely without us.
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