When he was five, he hoped the Easter Bunny wouldn't leave the usual cutesy stuffed rabbit thing sticking out of his basket.
'I really hope I get a zebra instead," he'd said one night before Easter, at bedtime when his mother lay next to him. When they'd whisper dreamily in the veiled glow of his seashell nightlight.
His mother listened best to him in this veiled light, better than when she was making dinner and he tried to show her one of his new magic tricks. "Incredible," she would say, but he always could tell her attention was more on whatever she was stirring in some pot.
He went on to tell her that if he could be any animal, that's what he would be, a zebra.
She brushed the hair back off his forehead. "And what is it you like so about the zebra?"
He really didn't know. Maybe the name, zeeeeebraaaa. Or the cool black zig-zaggy stripes. Or maybe simply because it was the complete opposite of his brother's favorite, the silly long-necked giraffe. He'd fed one of those a carrot once and was repelled by its ginormous tongue.
He wouldn't mind feeding a zebra. Feeding a zebra he bet would be like feeding the goats at the local farm. And if tomorrow a tornado tore him away forever, he'd want to come back in another life as a zebra, and he told his mother so.
She lay back and they stared up at the ceiling, at his plastic glow-in-the-dark stars. She sighed. "Zebras live on wide open plains. They can run pretty fast I bet...."
She sounded distant now. As when she would be stirring something in a pot, and he said, "Well, if I can't be a zebra, then I'd come back as a poisonous frog."
This snatched back her attention. She laughed. "You want to poison us all?"
"No, they're just cool looking too. Sometimes even orange. But I don't want one of those in my Easter basket."
And he didn't get one. He got the zebra. And his brother, well he got the giraffe:
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