Rhino on treadmill

Fillyjonk, over at Shapely Prose, posted about a t-shirt she saw and challenged people to think of happy stories to go with it so she didn’t have to dwell on the poor rhino trying to become a unicorn. So this is what I just wrote:

Once upon a time there was a rhino named Bruce. Bruce was a healthy young rhino though, like most of the other rhinos in his family, he needed glasses to see very well. Bruce lived with his parents in a nice little house in a pretty little shady area of the Serengeti.

Bruce had a happy life. He went to Rhino High School and played on the soccer team. He took art classes after school because he loved watercolors. He and his friends enjoyed jogging and playing all sorts of different Rhino Games. Sometimes they would barrel across the open landscape and run into a tree, just to see if they could knock the tree over. It was such great fun!

One morning, it was a Tuesday morning, Bruce was running late for school. His mother rushed him out the door with a kiss and the sack he took his lunch in every day. Even though Bruce ran all the way there, he was late.

Being tardy to Rhino High School is no laughing matter. Principal Hornburg took such matters VERY seriously and Bruce, as good a student as he was, was often late. He tried to sneak into home room, but his teacher, Mrs. TseTse of the Sahara TseTses, sent him to see Principal Hornbug anyway.

This was awful! Bruce hated being in trouble at school. His mother was going to ground him for sure and he and his friends had plans for the night!

But when he got to the office, the clerk told him to take a seat. Principal Hornburg was already talking to a student. A NEW student!

Bruce was curious – no one ever moved to the Serengeti! He sat down in the waiting area and watched the door. He didn’t have long to wait. After just a few minutes, the door opened and Bruce fell in love.

The new student was like no one Bruce had ever seen before. She had the body of a zebra, but her coat was solid white. And she had a horn! It wasn’t growing out of the end of her nose, though. It grew smack in the middle of her forehead.

It was her eyes that Bruce loved, though. They were large and shining.

“Hi, I’m Liza. Who are you?”

The new girl was standing in front of Bruce. She was speaking to him! Bruce could feel his face heating up. He hadn’t expected her to speak to him. What should he say?

“Um, hi. I’m Bruce.” That seemed like a good start.

“Bruce!” Principal Hornburg had exited his office behind the new girl, behind Liza, her name was Liza and it was magical just like she was magical. “Bruce, you’ve been late three times this month! You have detention! I’ll see you in the library on Saturday morning!” Principal Hornburg ran detention himself because none of the other teachers wanted to stay late. After all, they had things to do as well. “Now, this is Liza. She’ll be in your homeroom. Show her the way to class, please.” And he retreated back to his office.

Bruce couldn’t believe his luck. He didn’t even mind the detention or that his mom was going to ground him for sure. He got to escort Liza to class.

“Um, if you follow me, I’ll show you how to get to home room.”

“Thanks, Bruce. It’s nice to meet you.” Liza tossed her head and her mane flew around her face.

Bruce thought he smelled flowers.

Bruce and Liza went to home room together, and then to all of their classes. They traded phone numbers and talked on the phone all night long about how scared Liza had been to move to the Serengeti and how much Bruce loved thundering across the open territory and how math was such a great class but home ec was just ridiculous.

They met each other’s families, who were a little shocked at the match but could see how close the young rhino and the unicorn were growing.

Because Liza was a unicorn. Her whole family had bodies like zebras with shining white coats and horns growing out of their foreheads. It took both families a little while to adjust to the difference of the other family, but Bruce and Liza seemed so happy that they all made an effort to get along. In fact, the families grew to love each other just as much as Bruce and Liza grew to love each other.

Some of Bruce’s friends didn’t approve at all. They stopped inviting him to race across the Serengeti with them and they didn’t call him to play at knocking down trees. He was sad, but he made new friends, friends that loved Liza just as much as he did.

And so the years passed and the two young lovers graduated high school. Bruce had always planned to go off to Rhino College but he didn’t want to leave Liza behind. Bruce decided he was going to get a job at the company where his father worked, but when he went to tell Liza, she got mad.

“What do you mean, you aren’t going to college?” Liza paced around Bruce, tossing her mane and stamping her hooves. “You HAVE to go to Rhino College! You’ve been planning this since before I met you!”

“But, Liza, love, I don’t want to leave you!” Bruce was miserable. He wanted to stay with Liza but he DID want to go to Rhino College. “I’m afraid I’ll lose you.” He hung his head and sniffled. By this point, Bruce was wearing contact lenses, which was good because his glasses would have been spotted with tears at this point.

“You won’t lose me, silly Bruce.” Liza stopped pacing and gave Bruce a kiss on his ear. Then she tapped her unicorn horn against his rhino horn. It was their special gesture. “I will stay here and go to Serengeti Nursing College, just the way I planned. And you will go to Rhino College on your soccer scholarship and we will see each other almost every weekend.”

Bruce loved that Liza was so sensible. He was starting to feel a little less miserable.

Of course, Bruce’s years at Rhino College weren’t easy. He took classes in Barreling With Intent and Trampling With Purpose. He took Modern English Literature After 1680. He studied and studied and kept up his grade point average. He also played soccer for the Rhino College Leaping Gazelles. He put up Liza’s picture next to the treadmill he used for training.

Liza went to Serengeti Nursing College and she didn’t have an easy time of it either. She studied how to treat wounds caused by goring and by falling out of trees and by tripping and falling on a piece of tall grass. She decided to go on to medical school and enrolled at Serengeti Medical University. Bruce was so proud that he cut classes for a day to help her move into her new dorm room.

Bruce and Liza tried to see each other as much as possible. They couldn’t spend every weekend together, but Bruce’s roommates grew used to coming home to find the unicorn and the rhino curled up together on the couch watching movies and studying for their classes and dreaming about the future. Long holidays were the best.

Everyone thought the couple would break up. If the stresses of dating long distance didn’t get to them, all the new and attractive faces on their respective campuses surely would. But everyone was wrong. Liza was there when Bruce graduated and was drafted to play professional soccer. Bruce was there when Liza graduated and got a job at the hospital where she had done her internship.

They bought a little house, not too far from the shady area where Bruce’s parents still lived. And even though Bruce had to travel for soccer matches, he always took Liza’s picture with him and looked forward to going home and touching his rhino horn to her unicorn horn and telling her he loved her.

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  1. badfae
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    This is adorable ^_^

  2. Dame Mel
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    That was squee … I feel much better with that explanation, because the picture itself is made of cutesadness and cutefrustration.

  3. Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:30 am | Permalink


    Nice warm-up for NaNoWriMo?

  4. sistercoyote
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    I love it!

  5. Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    It would be a wonderful story even standing on its own. Yay. :)

  6. Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    You totally win.

  7. Posted October 31, 2007 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Awww…that made me all sniffly.

  8. Posted October 31, 2007 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I LOVE this!
    It’s definitely a lovely free-standing story. I’m taking a Masters degree in publishing and working toward a career in editing for children and young adults, and I would totally publish this. Imagine the amazing illustrations!

  9. Thorn
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Oh, that’s go great!

    And no, I’m not crying! I just… have something in my eye.

  10. Posted October 31, 2007 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh my gawd! I got all misty-eyed! You rocked my world! It just so happens that I love love love both Rhinos and Unicorns!

  11. TR
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Aw, thanks you guys. It is pretty uneven (not to mention totally unedited), but it was getting long so I had to draw things to a close. I am really glad y’all like it.

    And thank you, Julia! I actually really like writing stories in this vein. Unfortunately, I can’t illustrate worth a darn.

    Thorn, would you like a tissue? For the thing in your eye? *smile*

  12. Posted October 31, 2007 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    I can’t illustrate either – but that’s the great thing about getting a publisher. They find an illustrator for you. :)

  13. Posted October 31, 2007 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    Love. This. Story.

    Thank you for the happy ending.

  14. zingerella
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 9:17 pm | Permalink


    That is a lovely first-draft story. WooT! It totally works with the picture, and I love the idea of a Rhino College that offeres Barreling with Intent and Modern English Literature After 1680.

    You win an internet.

  15. Q
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 10:34 pm | Permalink


    Erm. Allergies, dammit.


    Not. Teary. Eyed.


  16. TR
    Posted November 1, 2007 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Thanks, y’all.

    And, zingerella, OF COURSE he has to study both Barreling with Intent and Modern English Literature After 1680. I mean, he’s getting a Liberal Arts degree. *grin*

    I SHOULD have had him go to medical school to study Rhino-plasty.

  17. Posted November 1, 2007 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    That’s just the most adorable thing in the whole universe. What an adorable story.

  18. Posted November 1, 2007 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    This is so sweet! I’m gonna share it with my 6 year old Ethan!

  19. Posted November 2, 2007 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Amazing. Thanks for that.

  20. Mel
    Posted November 21, 2007 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    This made me cry.

  21. Aly
    Posted April 6, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh my goodness. That was the sweetest, most brilliant thing short story I have ever read. :’) I loved it.

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