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Wilbur never wandered too far from the Rabbit Hutch. It was his home. Carefully lined with soil that was truly “top” and earthen furniture, it was quite comfy. Wilbur parents always kept the hutch well stocked with all manner of leafy greens and Wilbur’s personal favorite: carrots. Wilbur had a penchant for the Vitamin C and for a rabbit, had very keen eyesight. His parents all saw to it that Wilbur was truly a rabbit of the world. Delivered to the hutch each day were four newspapers, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and The Rabbit Record. The biggest day of the month was when the new issue of Better Hutches and Gardens arrived. Wilbur was well versed in the classics, although he had a disdain for French literature. Wilbur’s parents had done a terrific job of bringing the world to Wilbur. From Shakespeare to Pynchon, Cromwell to Nixon (and everything in between) Wilbur was ready to talk. And he very much wanted to venture out into the world he knew so much about. His mother and father didn’t want him to. But one fall afternoon, in his fifth year he was home alone in the hutch and decided to see what was out there.
He hopped through the pasture he knew so well, through the glen and found himself in uncharted territory. There was a road and cars whizzing by. Wilbur was frightened, but knew like all the great explorers and ponderers he had read about, that he must charge on.
Wilbur happened to come upon a car pulled over on the side of the road. This peaked his curiosity and being a rabbit he knew it would be safe for him to investigate further. He hopped up onto the hood. As he peered in he saw a girl, about sixteen crying in the driver’s seat. Wilbur had never seen someone cry before. Well, he had in movies, but never in person. He wasn’t quite sure what to do, but he felt he had to be of some comfort to this poor girl.
Wilbur took his paw and tapped on the windshield. She didn’t react at first. He tapped a bit more. She looked up and screamed.
“Hi, my name is Wilbur!” he exclaimed as the girl reflexively deployed the windshield wiper. Wilbur deftly dodged the blade.
“Don’t cry,” Wilbur said undeterred.
“Wait, you can talk?” the girl asked.
“Yes, yes I can.”
“But you’re a rabbit…”
“A very smart and cute one!”
“Too a fault. Let’s start over. What's your name?”
“I’m Sadie,” she said still in disbelief she was talking to a rabbit.
“It’s hard to hear you through the glass Sadie, would you mind if I hopped in through the sunroof?”
Wilbur didn’t wait for a reply. He landed on the gearshift with a thud. Recovering, he hopped over to the passenger seat.
“Wow! Fine Corinthian leather! So Sadie, why was beautiful girl like yourself crying before?”
Sadie hadn’t realized it until then, but as soon as Wilbur appeared she had stopped crying. (Wilbur would find later in life that he often had that effect on damsels in distress.)
“Well, you see Wilbur - I can’t even believe I’m going to tell you this, but it’s complicated.”
“I’m pretty smart, try me,” Wilbur encouraged. Earlier he had no way of knowing how exciting his first day out of the pasture and over the hutch would be!
“Well, I had to break up with my boyfriend, Ryan today. It was awful. I really liked him. And he liked me. And we had so much fun together. But the other kids always made such fun of us. It was unbearable. The other girls were so mean, I know they were just jealous, but it was hard. As much as I liked Ryan, I just couldn’t deal with the pressure, the jokes, and the name calling.”
Wilbur took a long pause before he said anything. He wanted to be a good and thoughtful rabbit, since apparently he was representing his race to Sadie. Never having a rabbit-friend of his own before, he didn’t have much experience to share. But he took a deep breath and gave it a try anyway, “Sadie, I’m sure things will get better with time. I mean it can’t be all that bad.”
“What do you know? You’re just a rabbit!” Sadie shouted out at him. Wilbur’s ears fell in shame. His cheeks turned red, and he looked at his paws. He had only been trying to help. After a moment, Wilbur mustered up the courage just as he had done but a moment before. “Sadie, I’m probably the only one who actually listened to you today.”
The words stung at Sadie, but as they left his tiny little mouth, she knew they were true. It’s a very rare thing to have someone who actually listens to what you say. Sadie quickly apologized, “Oh Wilbur! I’m sorry I didn't mean to yell at you.”
“It’s ok. Things will get better for you soon. They have to. One of my great heroes, who loved carrots as much I do, a British fellow said, ‘It’s always darkest before the dawn’ so take a deep breath.”
“How can you know about Winston Churchill? You’re only a rabbit.”
“ I wish you’d stop with the rabbit lines they’re quite hurtful actually. I told, you, I’m well read” Wilbur took an authoritative stance on this one.
“Jeez, Wilbur don’t get your ears out of joint” Sadied oozed.
Wilbur thought for a full minute before he said anything else. He had never used his marble sized brain so much –at once. He was slowing down a bit. He offered his conclusion slowly, “Sadie, I think I just fell into the same trap you did with Ryan. I think we both started caring too much about what other people think.”
“You know, Wilbur, I think you’re right. Thanks for hopping in my car”
“ Thanks, Sadie. I’ll be letting you go now. I’ve to get home for dinner, mother doesn’t like it when I’m late.”
“Me, too!”, Sadie said, realizing that rabbits weren’t all that different.
“Sadie, shall I meet you here tomorrow at the same time?” Wilbur started soft-pedaling, “So we can how things are going…I mean if you think that would be a good idea?”
“Sure, Wibur,” Sadie said. With that she leaned over and opened the passenger door for him. Wilbur hopped out, back through the glen, into the pasture, and slid right back into the hutch, in time for dinner.