Rabbits, or so I'm told, only make one real noise in their entire life. It is a shuddering scream, high and sharp, and they only ever make it when they are fighting for their life. I heard it once, years ago. It was at Brooke's house, and I was wasting my eighth grade year on her couch. Right in the middle of a Hitchcock movie and a bag of sticky popcorn, I heard the scream, and it scared me much more than the movie did. It came from the kitchen, and I sprinted down the hall to see. Switching on the light, I saw her shy little rabbit sitting quite still in the center of the floor. Nothing out of place there. So after a moment, I went and sat back down on the couch.
"Huh. I thought rabbits only made that sound when they were dying." I said. Brooke glanced up and shrugged.
A few minutes later, the little bunny hopped into the living room and - wonder of wonders! - leaped right up onto my lap and crouched there, leaning against me. I felt blessed - the rabbit was a recluse, even for it's kind, and I am a huge and hulking creature, not the kind of human that little animals instinctively trust. But there it sat, and I stroked it's back and that wonderful soft spot behind it's ears, and continued watching the movie. A few minutes later, a warmth began to soak through my pants. The little animal had bled to death in my lap.
Completely undone, I turned the rabbit carefully over and saw that the cat had ripped it's chest open. We buried it by flashlight.
Early this morning, something large jumped the fence and went after my rabbits. My neighbors woke up to the sound of the scuffle, and that awful screaming. They ran outside and chased the large animal away. Checking over the fence, they saw that all three rabbits were scared, but accounted for. They thought no more on it.
I visited the rabbits a number of times today, as they lay in the shade and bopped around in this gorgeous late-summer sunlight that Ashland is just glowing with. I brought them water a number of times, because they have a habbit of hopping right into their water bowls. It was a warm day, and though Hazel and Holly were frisky and playful, Mr. Hoppenstance seemed content to rest in the shade. I left a chunk of carrot for him. He didn't take it, and he didn't run.
The day passed, Dave and I taking on chores and fun time in the downtown area. As the sun began to set, we finished up dinner and prepared to head off to see a play. I went out to check on the buns. Looking under the shade of the tomato plant, I saw that Mr. Hop was still laying there. But now his back legs were splayed out behind him in an unnatural way. As I approached, he looked up at me weakly, and lifted himself up on his front paws and tried to crawl deeper into the shade, dragging his lower body behind him.
I looked at him; his shabby attempt, his awkward back legs laying long on the grass behind him, and a knot of grief the size of a fist rose up and wrapped around my heart. I crawled under the bushes and checked him. No blood. But those legs... maybe paralyzed. Something strong bit him, shook him, set him to screaming and woke the neighbors.
Mr. Hop. He was the extra one - the one I didn't want, I took him out of convenient pity. He would have been meat at a fancy restaurant, and I saved him and the girls and stole away with them and snuck them up on a long car trip in cardboard boxes with rags and straw on the floor. He was alone, as he has gone into heat and had to be separated from the others. So he sat on the floor of the passenger seat in abject terror for the whole ride. It was probably the worst moment of his little life, until this. And I got him here, and he had just one day, ONE DAY in the sun and the wind and the wild enjoyment of being to move around for the first time in his life, to stretch and run and graze and enjoy all the great natural pleasures of a rabbits life that didn't involve the stupid, awful mechanized genocide that any contact with humanity inevitably brings to an animal species, and I had blown it for him already. I got too tired; I didn't put them away last night, I trusted that with plenty of room to run, they could just out-distance an enemy. I was too broke to build a proper hutch. i didn't plan this one through. I gave him transport, terror, and a single day in the sun. Now he's laying on a tarp in a playhouse in the back yard, and even if he lives through the next couple of days, he may very well never walk again. So I sat in the shade, and held his little body, and really petted him for the first time, and cried like a goddamn child. I wept for the stupid, wretched tragedy of it all - because I am alone here, because I am lost in a love that ate me alive, because rabbits die because I am too careless to save them, and because it had to happen to the one rabbit I didn't really want. I didn't do everything for him that I could, and I am so, so sorry for it. I'm taking him to a vet tomorrow morning. I don't think I can afford to save him, and that is the final injustice. But I will try, god knows I will try. Because in some small way, I'm trying for both of us. It's all I can do now. I'm sorry Mr. Hoppenstance.
Current Mood: Worn down
Current Music: Games without Frontiers