Kris didn’t like to think. It made her head hurt. Plus, as a side effect, she usually had an idea. That never seemed to come to anything good. Mostly it just ended with Bill having to punch someone.
Once in a while, though, she had a good idea. It only happened about once a year, right around the same time. She would have thought that odd, but as was already mentioned, she tried not to think about it too much.
It would give her a headache, and possibly lead to an idea, which would end in more punching. That would detract from the goodness of the idea, which would be bad.
Or so she thought. Then there were headaches, ideas, and punching to deal with again. It was a rather vicious circle, which she wisely chose not to think about much.
Today was her good day, though, the one time of the year she knew she’d had a good idea, without thinking, getting a headache, of causing anyone to get punched. Although, when she thought about it, Bill did seem to enjoy punching people. The froggier they were, the more he liked it.
She grimaced at the headache she imagined herself getting, and rubbed her head with Bunny to make the thoughts go away before someone got face punched. After a minute, she was certain it was working, as there wasn’t a thought in her head.
She thought not anyway. Just to be sure, she rubbed some more.
Bill stared at her. Not in shock, he was long past that. Not in curiosity, for that too was something he no longer felt. He stared at her because he wasn’t sure what to say.
Kris was sitting on the bed, half naked, rubbing a pink stuffed rabbit on her head and grimacing. He was certain this was one of those things he should say something about. In the end, he figured it was best to leave it alone.
“I’ve got an idea!” Kris bellowed.
Bill instantly stopped what he was doing and looked at her in terror.
“What?” she asked.
“What kind of an idea?”
“The good kind,” she grinned.
“Am I going to end up hitting someone?”
Kris thought about that for a minute, rubbing Bunny on her head some more to fend off the migraine she saw lurking in the bathroom, waiting to pounce her.
“Don’t think so,” she admitted. “But it’s always a possibility.”
Bill sighed heavily. “What’s the idea?”
“We should go shopping!”
Bill trailed after the mad Elven druid as she marched through the streets, Bunny clutched in one hand to menace whoever got her path, her staff in the other, in case Bunny didn’t do his job as he should.
He knew he should stop her. This was bound to end with him having to punch someone. All her ideas ended that way, one way or the other.
One look at the wide, proud smile on her face, however, and Bill Wick, notorious mercenary, didn’t have the courage to make her stop.
He only hoped she didn’t deplete their finances overly much. Kris rarely needed, or wanted, much of anything. At least, not long enough to actually obtain it before she had forgotten ever wanting it.
It was one of those little joys of living with her that made all the insanity worth while. Once in a while, though, she could focus her scattered thoughts onto a single thing, and when that happened, there was nothing that could stop her.
“Where should we go first?” she pondered, stopping in the middle of the street.
“Away from the horses?” Bill suggested, offering nervous apologies to the carriage and wagon drivers that swerved around them.
“Well, of course,” Kris replied dramatically. “There’s nothing to buy here, silly Billy.”
“Good point,” he sighed.
“I know!” she exclaimed, face lighting up. “Let’s go get a prostitute!”
“Kidding!” she squealed. “I want some cake, and a new hat. This one’s old and doesn’t sit right.”
“That’s cause it’s a rabbit.”
She put Bunny back in her hand where he belonged and berated him for wandering off. Bill covered his face. People in the street steered extremely clear.
She was off and running. Bill, much larger than her, had a hard time keeping up as she wove and bobbed through the crowds of people and traffic. More than once, he had to apologize as Kris knocked people from their feet when they got in her way.
At least she occasionally used the staff to do it. The rest of the time, she just beat them with her stuffed rabbit until they fell down. More than once, this took a few minutes.
It was going to be one of those days.
Five hours later and Bill found himself staggering out of yet another shop. His arms were loaded with so many bags, he couldn’t actually see his arms. Most of them held hats. The rest were dresses.
“Kris, perhaps that’s enough shopping,” Bill offered.
“Not just yet,” she replied. “I’m forgetting something. I just need a minute to think about it.”
Bill ducked without meaning to. He no sooner did it than he felt bad about it. Fortunately, Kris hadn’t noticed. She was too busy rubbing her head with Bunny and scowling at the cobblestones.
He leaned back against the building, wondering if they had any money left. They had been paid handsomely for the work they’d done recently, ending a barbarian onslaught of the Viscount’s summer home. Enough that they could have easily afforded to take a few months off.
If only, he sighed, looking at the bags he carried. If only, he sighed again, looking at Kris, who stood with Bunny on her head, looking very cross at a lamp post.
Two young men ran past, and Bunny was gone. Kris glared at the lamp post for a few more seconds. Bill blinked, brain registering what had just happened.
“BILL!“ she shrieked.
He was already moving, bags dropping from his arms as he gave chase. Ahead, they ducked down a side street, already laughing, waving the silly toy over their heads. Bill frowned and poured on the speed.
Bill Wick wasn’t much to look at. Anyone with eyes could see that. He was not in bad shape, however, and no sooner did he turn the corner into the side street then the two bunnynapers began to realize their mistake.
Laughter faded to concern, then to fear, as Bill steam rolled anything in his path. They knocked over plenty of things to slow him, too, but he kept coming, jumping over or smashing through whatever obstacle they created.
Somewhere behind him, he knew, Kris was standing on the side of the street, crying. She was crying. His Kris. CRYING!
Bill’s face twisted into rage. He put his head down, gaining ground on the two young men. They screamed at the expression in his eyes and tried to run faster, but were already growing winded.
Bill, on the other hand, was just fine.
He was actually starting to smile, in a very dark, and frightening way. The kind of way few people that saw ever lived to remember.
Looked like he was going to be punching someone today after all.
“T-t-they s-s-s-stole m-m-my b-b-b-bunnnnnyyyyyyy!” Kris wailed.
The city guardsman in front of her nodded his head slowly. “And who is Bunny? Is she your daughter?”
“NO!” Kris screamed, slamming a fist into his nose. “He’s m-m-m-my b-b-b-bunnnnnyyyyyyy!”
The guard grunted and tried not to lose his temper with the Elf. “Ma’am, I’m trying very hard to help, but you’ll have to stop hitting me.”
“There’s nobody else to hit!” she shrieked, flailing at him blindly.
He recoiled, trying to grab her hands, to no avail. “Miss, please, calm down!”
“Hey, buddy, I got this.”
The guard turned to see a powerfully built, and terrifying man standing behind him, two young men slung over his shoulder. In one hand, he held a small, pink, stuffed rabbit. The Elf exploded.
“Seriously?” the guard muttered. “That’s Bunny?”
Kris kicked him in the shin. He yelped. Bill wagged a finger at her. She stuck her tongue out at the guard and hugged the rabbit tight.
“Kris, what have we talked about?”
“Dwarves aren’t ballerinas?”
“No, the other thing.”
“Don’t kick the guards?”
“I’m sorry I kicked you, Mr. Guard. Here’s a hug from Bunny.”
The guard wasn’t sure if he should run away, or run away screaming, as the pink rabbit descended on him. He accepted the hug and tried to hobble away.
“Hold up there, buddy,” Bill called, dropping the two young men to the street. “I brought you something.”
“Bunnynapers!” Kris hissed, jabbing them with her staff.
“Muggers,” Bill corrected.
“Oh,” the guard mused.
“Did you punch them, Bill?” Kris inquired.
“A whole lot.”
“Did you enjoy it?”
“More than a little.”
“That’s my Billy.”
The guard decided he needed to sit down.
Bill dropped the multitude of bags on the floor and fell into a chair. He hated to say it, but the day had exhausted him. Even after ‘The Bunnynaping’, Kris had insisted they keep shopping. At some point, he’d fallen asleep while she tried on one dress after another.
At least it only happened once every so often, he sighed. It would be a good year until she had another idea like this, so until then, both he and his coin purse were safe.
Kris rifled through one bag after another, Bunny on her head, hats and dresses tossed away carelessly. Bill stared at her, again trying to figure out what he should say.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for something,” she answered.
“Odds are, it’s in one of those bags,” Bill sighed, settling back. “Half the town is.”
“AHA!” she squealed, pulling a small wooden box from one of the bags and holding it up triumphantly.
Bill cocked an eyebrow. He didn’t remember paying for that. “Where did you get that?”
“I bought it while you were asleep,” Kris replied smugly. “By the way, you drool when you snore.”
“What is it?”
“Snoring, or drool?”
“Oh,” she giggled. “I thought that was a silly question.”
“Kris,” he chided.
She grinned and slid across the room to settle in his lap, arms wrapping around his neck. “The only thing I really wanted to buy.”
“Then all of this,” he said, waving a hand at the bags.
“Can be returned, or given to the needy,” she shrugged. “I don’t care. I don’t want any of it.”
“Kris,” Bill replied, voice very stern. “That’s a waste of a lot of money.”
She held the box in front of him. “No, it wasn’t.”
He took it, slid back the lid, and stared in shock, the first time he’d felt it in some time. Inside was a simple silver ring, wide and polished. Etched in Elven upon the band were the words that made tears well in his eyes, the words Kris spoke to him next.
“Always, forever, my soul is yours. Love, Kris.”
“Kris,” he muttered softly.
She kissed his forehead and smiled. “Happy birthday, my love.”
He smiled and slipped the ring onto his finger. “It’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten.”
“Second best,” she said with a wink.
“I think I’d know,” he replied.
“Turn off the lamp, and let’s see.”
“Shh…” Kris giggled. “Bunny’s too young to see this.”
Bill turned off the lamp.
©-2016 Cain S. Latrani
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No guards were harmed in the writing of this short story.