Rabbit of the Valley

February 9, 2009
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I stood at the top of the misty hill looking down upon the crisp valley below the cottage. I looked over the patches of wildflowers, the occasional squirrel, and the innumerable pieces of grass'looking for something wrong that seemed like it should be there on an otherwise perfect day.

I saw what I was subconsciously looking for, a small red and brown animal'a miniscule ball of morning dew perched upon every hair of its delicate body. I walked towards it, cold fallen leaves sticking to the bottoms of my bare feet. It's neck was at an odd angle'broken, its back was ripped open just to the right of the spinal column, and there were bites taken out of the small, blood stained torso of the animal. It was a rabbit'small unharmed velvety brown ears (much smaller than a pet rabbit's ears), a small soft nose, and strong grass-stained paws lying limp in the dirt. His eyes were like little polished balls of the darkest marble'glistening and black. Its white leaf-shaped tail was longer than I thought it would be, I could imagine it twitching nonchalantly on the rear end of the little rabbit.

'It's dead,' I thought to myself, 'he's dead.' It was just a dead wild rabbit, but it hit me so hard. I felt a deep eye-opening sadness'the rabbit had a life of its own, thoughts of its own, a den of its own. It was once a living creature'heartbeat and all. It probably thought of me as nothing more than a shadow on the top of the hill' nothing important, which is exactly how I thought of him as well. I never thought of all of the creatures that I share this world with' there are multiple billions of separate inhabitants on this earth besides me. But somehow only the creatures of the humanoid race seem to wander into my mind as anything other than vague animals in the enormity of nature.

I realized that it wasn't just a medium sized rabbit with brown fur that lived in the valley next to the cottage. It wasn't just a rabbit. It was a mortal being. If I had found the dead body of a human lying in the moss, among the trees I climb daily'only yards from where I sleep, my reaction to the situation would've been completely different'horror, nervousness, surprise, desperation, revulsion, alarm, dread, panic'but this small brown rabbit was destined to die someday in the thick of green summer trees. And it was probable that this rabbit would die with bite marks in his chest.

It stirred up memories of deaths close to my heart'family and friends. They did not die of fatal fox attacks, but something more commonplace for a human'cancer, heart failure, suicide, insanity, failed surgery, old age etc. Despite the difference in passing, the same thoughts were roused in both the death of the small brown rabbit and in those of loved ones; 'This is weird--they just aren't here anymore (I'll never see them again),Where did the soul go? Why now? I hardly knew a thing about their life'their complicated existence, but the death is still so paralyzing! I wish I could just see them alive one more time'just to appreciate what I have missed!' A death is a death'final for both humans and animals.

I looked up at the sky (the same exact sky that the brown rabbit lived under as well) and contemplated asking the leaves hanging above my head to tell me the rabbit's story'the trees saw the rabbit every day, they saw his killer every day as well, they saw it happen.

I decided not to consult the foliage, but instead attempted to conjure up a story in my mind of the rabbit's last moments'he catches a glimpse of the fox from his tall grassy grazing spot. He shoots off into a shrub'unmoving and tense. The fox follows; his trotting paws silent on the damp, early morning earth. The rabbit flexes into action'darting in and out of hiding spots, rocketing from tree to tree, muscles churning, soft eyes sharp as razors'but finally he is outplayed by the crafty orange beast. She comes upon him with sharp unforgiving teeth'extensively ready for a meal. The rabbit squirms with the last struggles of life he'll have, but succumbs to the paws and the teeth and the hunger of the fox, lying still and waiting for the fatal puncture. And soon the rabbit is gone'not one to witness the earned meal ritual'fur from flesh, flesh from muscle, muscle from bone.

I imagined what it was like to be eaten. I mulled it over in my brain- combining being cut with rocks, drowning, and being on a dysfunctional roller coaster to try and get the effect. What would you be thinking? Would you feel the pain, or be too involved in squirming away to notice? How much blood would you have to lose before you actually die? Would you try and move even though many of the muscles controlling your appendages would already be ripped from your body?

I stared into the rabbits still-glossy eyes trying to find an emotion'a spark of life. The limp rabbit appeared to be calm'almost respectful of the way in which it had left the world. The death of a rabbit is not so out of place in the wild; foxes have to eat and rabbits are available, so the process is natural, almost like the human equivalent of getting a degree in business'avoidable, but it happens to many of us. I could almost tell that the rabbit was glad for the last adventure he encountered on earth'it was sort of like a right of passage to the little brown creature, and who could complain about going out with a bang? I closed his miniscule eyelids (almost expecting him to rise into heaven) as a gesture of respect to the small brown rabbit that I formerly overlooked.

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yayATYP! said...
Feb. 20, 2009 at 3:15 am
I love this piece! Very nicely done!
(I do wish the posters would fix the punctuation, though)
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