Preface: Sometimes random events make you ponder big questions.
I was visiting my girlfriend Gloria when I heard the squealing tires of a car outside, followed by a soft thump. I hurried outside and stood on the front porch looking left and right down the quiet road. I could discern nothing amiss, and then I saw it: A small fuzzy body in the road, obviously dead.
From inside the house my girlfriend hollered out, ” What happened?”
“Someone hit a rabbit,” I replied, wincing at the nasally, whiny sound her voice got whenever she raised it. I didn’t know it then but months later, after the breakup, it would occur to me that her voice was the deal breaker.
“Awww,” she said loudly.
Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I use this opportunity to light a cigarette. Like me, Gloria smoked, but not in her house. As I sat on the steps, I detected movement from the bushes across the street and watched as another bunny emerged, not running, but hopping almost ponderously. It made its way to the edge of the street where it stopped and seemed to peer at its dead……what? friend? husband? wife? or maybe even child? The bunny stopped about a foot from the edge of the road, two or 3 feet away from the dead body. Looking on silently, the bunny seemed to settle in.
I watched fascinated. The stillness of the moment had so overtaken me that I almost jumped when a hand touched me lightly on the shoulder.
“What’s going on?” I looked up and peered into the eyes of my girlfriend.
“That rabbit seems to be related to the one that died.”
I jerked my head in the direction of what I assume to be the mourning bunny.
“Poor girl,” Gloria said, “Her boyfriend is dead”
I looked up quizzically. “How do you know the one that died was the male?”
She tossed her long blonde hair as she laughed and patted me lightly on the head. “Silly boy, a girl would never run out into the street. Do you want anything? My show is about to come on.”
I made a ‘humph’ sound and as she turned to walk away I said playfully, “I guess I better never run into the street when it’s time for your show.”
As she walked back into the house, she retorted, “Yep, or you’d be one lonely dead bunny.”
My laugh caught in my throat as I turned to look at the now proclaimed female bunny as she stared silently at her fallen companion. A tinge of something, was it guilt? stopped me dead. It just didn’t seem right to make light of this situation. I wondered at that, and as I could hear a car approaching from the distance I thought to myself, “Well, this won’t last much longer anyway. The car will drive by and Miss Bunny will run away.”
Except she didn’t. The car drove by, barely missing her dead companion. But she didn’t move, not one inch.
Fascinated, I kept watch while she kept watch over her dead companion. Over an hour must’ve passed because Gloria appeared back on the porch and proclaimed her show over. Looking across the street at the rabbit she said, “What an interesting stripe your new girlfriend has. I bet I can show you some tricks she can’t.”
I smiled. The only reason she watched that stupid show was because she had a crush on some hunky actor whose name in the show was the same as mine in real life. It always made me wonder if there wasn’t some weird Freudian thing in her attraction to me. I took her hand and followed her inside, where, true to her word, she did teach me a few tricks. Try as I might though, I couldn’t get that bunny out of my head.
I told Gloria I was going outside to have a smoke. I went out the side door, stopped by my car and grabbed the binoculars I kept in the trunk for when I go to the football games. Sitting back down on the porch steps I peered across the street at the bunny, zooming in as I saw her, small eyes staring intently at her dead companion. How long I stared at her through those binoculars, I couldn’t tell. By the time I had heard a car coming, my ashtray was half full.
I lowered my binoculars. My gaze followed the speeding SUV as it came barreling down the road and struck the dead rabbit, flattening its small furry body against the pavement.
Pain followed by grief flooded through me as I hurriedly put the binoculars back up to my eyes. The bunny with the stripe was still staring intently at what was left of her dead companion. But now her whiskers twitched furiously as if this final indignity was pushing her over the edge. I put the binoculars down and felt a lump in my throat. Looking at my watch I realized it’d been over two hours hours since Mr. Rabbit had been hit, and me mourning his loss felt a little strange. I gave Miss Bunny one more look; eyes still on her companion, whiskers twitching, she didn’t move.
Gathering my cigarettes and lighter, I vowed not to look again. I went in the house through the side door so I could put my binoculars up. We spent that night in bed watching movies and eating popcorn, but my mind kept drifting back to the bunny. I wondered how long she would stay there, silent sentinel for her dead companion. But I resisted the urge to look.
It was after 10 AM when I left the next morning and both bunnies were gone. Periodically during the rest of the week, my mind would drift back to that poor little bunny now all alone in the world and it would make me feel melancholy.
Gloria called on Thursday asking if I planned to come over this weekend; before I can answer, she rambles on about her job and all the people she works with. Gloria is a world-class rambler who can cover three or four topics in the same conversation, dropping names of people I have never met like I know all about them. Curiosity has gotten the best of me and, as she pauses for a breath, I quickly ask about my furry bunny friend. There is silence on her end for a moment as she remembers what I am talking about, “Oh you mean the rabbit with the stripe?” she says.
“Yes,” I reply. “Have you seen her?”
” Well, It’s the damnedest thing”
I feel an ominous feeling as she goes on, ” The neighbors were just talking about her”
Puzzled, I ask why.
“The bunny rabbit, the one with the stripe, all week she keeps darting out into the street at moving cars.”
I can barely croak out. “Why is that?”
” I don’t know.” She says dismissively. “Joe seems to think she is trying to attack the cars. It’s only when the cars are moving and…”
As my eyes filled with tears I hung up the phone.
I sit down heavily on the couch. I hear the phone ringing in the distance, but I ignore it. Later I would tell Gloria my battery died, but for now I sit still in my living room as day turns to dusk, the dark drifting down foggy corridors of my mind.
I think of all the injustices I have seen the strong commit on the weak. I think of all the people who, like that little bunny, find themselves alone and at the mercy of powers out of their control, surrounded by things that they can’t hope to understand.
I think of all of this as I sit alone in my darkening home. I think of this as I cover my face with my hands and grieve for one poor little bunny, all alone now in this big world. Hurt, frustrated, and trying to fight back in a battle she can’t win.
© 2011 Steven Burton All Rights Reserved
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