One Easter a while back, I decided that I was going to create the Easter egg hunt of all Easter egg hunts for my 3- and 5-year-old daughters.
I spent nearly the entire day before purchasing and stuffing plastic eggs with candy, money and small trinkets. With the aid of a crudely drawn map of our two-acre yard, I meticulously plotted and hid each little treasure. I could hardly wait to see the girls’ excitement as they searched for their Easter eggs.
The next morning, my wife and I led the girls out into the yard and gave each one a huge empty basket. I explained to my wide-eyed daughters that the Easter bunny had hidden Easter eggs all over the yard for them to find.
“What’s an Eeeter egg?” my younger daughter asked.
“You know, like an egg that a bird lays…only the Easter bunny brings it!” I answered, amazed that she didn’t know what an Easter egg was. “You’ll know when you find one.”
So, with a mixture and excitement and a touch of confusion, off they went in search of their Easter treasures.
After about 10 minutes, my wife and I walked over to check on the girls’ progress. As I approached my younger daughter, Natalie, I asked, “How many Easter eggs have you found, baby girl?”
“A whooooole bunch,” she said, holding up her Easter basket.
Looking inside the basket, I was surprised to see that there was not a single egg in her basket. Instead, there were several round rocks, a bottle cap and what looked like the pelvis and legs of an apparently long-dead rodent of some kind.
“Oh, no, baby girl, those aren’t…”
Just then, a blood-curdling scream came from the other side of the yard. My other daughter, Hannah, came wailing and running full speed from behind the shed, still clutching her Easter basket, which contained what looked like a football-size, egg-shaped hornet nest. My wife, who had gone to check on her, was fleeing in the opposite direction, swatting the air frantically.
Like a flash, I took off on a dead run toward Hannah, who was screaming in horror and from the pain of being stung. Snatching the hornet basket from her hand, I veered away from her and threw it like a grenade over the hedge that framed our property.
But there was no time to stop and check on poor Hannah. Instead, my next concern was my wife, who was very allergic to bees.
It took a few seconds of sprinting to catch up to her in the front yard. She was screaming and swatting with all her might at a single bee that was swirling around her head. Not knowing what else to do, I began following behind her, swatting as well and smacking her on the head every time the hornet made an attempt to land.
In her flailing panic, she fell to the ground and began to flounder like a fish stranded on the shore. I feared that her being a stationary target would make her more vulnerable to the attacking insect, so I began to drag her by her shirt collar, which ripped.
“I think it’s gone,” she managed to say between panting and sobbing, but I didn’t have time to even think about her words when a police car came sliding into the driveway, and two officers jumped out with guns drawn. I could only assume my neighbor across the street had noticed the commotion and called them — the very neighbor who had been less than friendly to me ever since my “trees are easier to burn standing, than after you cut them down” incident.
So there I was, red-faced and panting, standing over my sobbing wife, who had collapsed on the ground with a ripped shirt, and my hand raised high in the air ready to smack her on the head if the devilish hornet returned. Hannah, the one who had found the Easter hornet nest, was standing not far away, crying loudly. Her lip and the area around her left eye were swollen surprisingly large from what I could only assume were hornet stings. I had no idea where Natalie had gone to.
“Get away from her, you sick bastard!” one of the officers yelled with a great amount of contempt in his voice.
“No, no, Officer! It’s not what it looks like!” I said, realizing how bad the situation must appear.
“Did you do that, too?” the other officer asked, nodding toward Hannah, whose eye was almost swollen shut and her lip nearly as big.
“NO, I was just trying—”
“Hey!” the second officer interrupted. “Aren’t you the idiot who decided to burn his trees down last summer?”
But before I could even begin to explain the logic in the tree burning, Natalie trotted out from around the corner of the house and over to the two gun-holding officers. Smiling, she looked up and said, “My daddy says we can find Eeeter eggs,” and with that, she pulled a piece of hardened dog poop out of her basket and held it up as if to offer it to the officer. His gaze of contempt grew even more intense.
“It’s not what it looks like!” I pleaded, not even sure where to start. “We’re going to an Easter church service!” (I’m not even sure why I thought that would help, but I was desperate.)
Finally, my wife had calmed down enough to begin explaining the situation herself, and a questioning of my daughter Hannah eventually revealed that a hornet had assaulted her. I’m not sure they believed that I had actually hidden Easter eggs, since neither girl had anything in her basket other than rocks, a dead animal, a hornet nest and dog poop, but I could live with that.
In the years following, Easter baskets were sitting next to the girls’ beds, already filled, when they woke up in the morning. The girls didn’t like talking about the Easter bunny any longer. They had reasoned that he was a bit like Santa, and if you had been naughty in the previous year, you would not find Easter eggs. Instead, you would be attacked by bees, and the police would come and point their guns at you.
— Jon Ziegler
Jon Ziegler is a husband, father of two girls and a tree trimmer who started writing as an outlet for what he calls “creative madness.” He’s the author of Single Family Asylum.