It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, so I hope you have all called, visited or borrowed a father so that you are equipped to celebrate in accordance with the laws passed by the greeting card oligarchy.
Just for acknowledging their existence, I am now on a watchlist.
Here at the Smomestead, we have to tread carefully with celebrations that involve my father, however. Like the mighty rhinoceros, he is often solitary, highly territorial, and does not enjoy surprises. Buying presents for this man is nigh-on impossible. If asked, he will tell you that he has acquired everything he needs and doesn’t want more clutter. If he should happen to develop a craving for something materiel, he buys it himself without telling anyone. When we used to write up our wish lists for Secret Santa exchanges, my father’s list always read, in its entirety, ‘Socks,’ every year for three decades. So we’ve sort of fallen out of the habit of giving him gifts and instead do things with him. This year, we will be paying homage to our paternal progenitor in the form of a family BBQ, and as part of our ritual preparations, we asked him if there was anything he wanted included in the dinner.
This man, who, in all the years of my life, has scorned the very concept of a Father’s Day and bristled his beard at the notion of gifts, turned two wounded eyes upon me and said, “Just a dinner? Don’t I even get a present?”
“Yes, of course, Dad,” we said. “What would you like?”
“A can opener,” he replied.
I know for a fact there are three can openers floating around his kitchen, but it’s his special day, so even though we are 90% sure we’re being trolled, we bought the man a can opener and slapped a bow on it. We also bought him a miniature succulent garden (he used to have an epic succulent and cactus garden, until the neighbor’s cat tore it up, and he has often bemoaned its loss…I’m not sure he’s forgiven the cat either), a small carrot cake (carrot because that is his favorite kind of cake and small so he doesn’t have to share it), and a bottle of Fireball (he doesn’t drink; the whiskey is so us kids can drink the pain away after facepalming our features onto the other side of our skull when he complains about receiving presents on Father’s Day).
In completely unrelated news, the next chapter of my Five Nights at Freddy’s fanfic, Everything Is All Right, Part Four: New Faces, Old Bones, is up, so if you’re reading along, head on over to archiveofourown.org or fanfiction.net and check it out (Good grief, that’s a lot of commas). If you’re not reading along yet, perhaps I can entice you with a snippet! Probably not, given that you’ve seen about a hundred snippets by now, but hope springs eternal!
Late in the afternoon on a Thursday, the second Thursday after Ana ran, a rabbit came up off the access road and began to make its way across the parking lot. This was the first sign of life Bonnie had seen all day, so he watched it, although he kept his ears aimed at the road. It was a small rabbit, long-bodied but scrawny, not yet grown into its paws and not likely to, to be brutally honest. Its greyish-brown fur had a patchy look, which might just mean the little guy hadn’t felt like grooming itself or it might mean parasites. Closer examination showed him a scarred nose stained red by rubbing it in the desert soil, gummy eyes and a chewed ear. As it hopped across the parking lot, Bonnie could see it wasn’t moving very well, not limping but stiff-legged. It stopped often to investigate the brown, brittle plants growing through cracks in the asphalt until it came to a pothole deep enough to hold onto the summer rain for a while, creating a fairly lush oasis of hardy weeds. There, the rabbit nosed around and soon settled to graze.
Poor little guy. Bonnie couldn’t help but feel a brotherly sort of sympathy. It was a hard world out there. In the end, it didn’t matter how strong or smart or talented you were, nothing but dumb luck decided whether you made it or not, and despite the reputation attributed to their feet, Bonnie had never met a lucky bunny.
The rabbit chewed a few leaves, pausing often to push its nose against the ground or scratch its ears or just sit there and pant. As he watched, Bonnie found that he was very vaguely curious as to what sort of rabbit it was. All he knew was that it wasn’t one of the breeds represented by the intended animatronic inhabitants of the Bunny Patch, which were mostly European anyway. It had probably never occurred to their creator to name one of them after the local breeds. Harlequins and silver martens were exotic; wild rabbits were just garden-eating vermin.
“And it doesn’t matter,” he could remember their creator saying, talking to himself as he so often did. That had been here, down in the basement, the four of them waiting for their new skins to come out of their molds, watching him at his computer, nib in hand, sketching on his crestomathy—his tablet—and watching Freddyland form on the wall-sized monitor. “Anything will do, as long as there are enough of them. What else? What else? Through the Bunny Patch to…a farm. A barn. A cow…Miss Bovine. A sheep…no, a lamb…Mary…no, no, the other way, Merry, Merrily. A pig…Porky…no, that’s been done…Peggy? Peggy…Pigtails. So many girls, I need boys. A rooster. Feathers? What are chicken names? Rhodes? Rocky? Bantam…Banter? Brewster. Brewster Bantam…no, Brewster Rooster. Alliteration is good, rhymes are better. How many is that? Enough. Enough, enough. Move on. After the barnyard comes…town. A wild west town. Cowboys. A ranch…no, a gulch. Gallup Gulch…”
And so on, never giving more than a few seconds’ thought to each name, no more than a minute to any one design. And it was still more thought than he’d ever put into Bonnie’s own look. Freddy had been built first, the new and improved model of a teddy bear their creator had been building and rebuilding since he was four years old, and Chica had been designed as half-mother and half-sister to a boy who hadn’t had either, but Bonnie wasn’t anything special. “Purebred lapine lavender badass, baby,” he’d told Ana (and she’d laughed, not like it was funny and not to be polite, but just like she was happy), but the truth was, he’d been made a bunny because rabbits were everywhere out in the desert and their creator saw them every day. And he was purple, because it was his favorite color and their creator had wanted to surprise him. That was all Bonnie was, a gift for the Purple Man, who had taken one look at him and first groaned, then laughed.
“You don’t know me very well at all, do you?” he’d asked, then slung his arm around their creator’s slumped shoulders. “Aww, don’t take it like that. It’s neat, it’s just not my thing. Come on, we’ll make one together, just the two of us. That’ll be more fun anyway, won’t it? And won’t Father be surprised when he sees we can do it without him…”
And along came Foxy, his favorite. Everyone’s favorite.
Back in the here and now, Bonnie glanced behind him and down the short corridor to Pirate Cove, where he could hear Foxy leading the room in The Drunken Sailor Song. He imagined he could feel a little warmth in his chest, as if his resentment were a coal that needed to be turned and tended to keep from going out. And it was so stupid, because it wasn’t Foxy’s fault. The affection of the fucking Purple Man was nothing to vie for or feel bad about losing, but still…sometimes Bonnie felt like he’d spent his entire life being rejected.