Written by Joy Yarrington
A screech. A screech and a thump. There wasn’t a crash. There wasn’t a slo-mo moment. My life didn’t flash before my eyes.
It wasn’t me.
I had already, by some grace of a higher being, gotten to the concrete square on the other side of the road. The car didn’t hit me and drive off. I’m lucky.
The poor rabbit laying in two mangled pieces on the road, he wasn’t so lucky.
I’m not a huge animal enthusiast but it’s never nice to see death. Especially when at the very moment of death, the accursed creature makes direct eye contact. You always hear about the “life draining out of” someone’s eyes. Doesn’t happen. The thing looked at me and died. Didn’t even twitch. Didn’t close its eyes.
I chose to believe it moved its eyes before it died.
I don’t personally own any rabbits. No pets at all, in fact. And I don’t think I’ll ever want to now. People at the pet stores ignore me anyway. They’ll glance at me, make eye contact, and look away. I don’t look like a “pet” person, I’ve been told. My mom and Peter never liked pets much either.
So why the rabbits?
I walk to school. Every morning I walk to school.
There’s a pattern.
Every morning I walk to school, and every 3-2-1 days, there’s a rabbit.
Monday Thursday Saturday.
Sunday Wednesday Friday.
Saturday Tuesday Thursday.
Friday Monday Wednesday.
Thursday Sunday Tuesday
Wednesday Saturday Monday
Tuesday Friday Sunday
Monday Thursday Saturday.
School, church, work. All the same route. Maybe it’s cursed. But I’m not superstitious.
Everyone I talk to is.
It started scattered, every couple weeks or days or in between. I didn’t believe it. Didn’t think I had to. Didn’t notice sometimes. I’ve never particularly liked rabbits. Seemed like lesser animals. Never really liked furry animals. Their beady eyes.
The beady eyes that stare up at me after every Toyota drives away. It’s always a Toyota. Not the same one, never the same colour. Maybe someone really doesn’t like rabbits.
They look up at me in a post-mortem contempt.
No, I shouldn’t say that.
Some are scared. Some sad looking. Some almost look humanly mournful.
Some - inexplicably - relieved.
But it’s them instead of me, they say.
Them instead of me.
Not me again.
It’s not just the rabbits. I found out it’s not just the rabbits.
It’s sad, for such a big town with such experienced drivers, this girl got hit really bad. We don’t have a reputation as bad drivers. Not many people even drink. But every week, every Monday on the six o’clock news, wherever I am, I’ll catch a glimpse of the report on her. People are devastated or something. Every week. She died one time. A couple months ago. Right when I started seeing more and more rabbits. I have a joke that she was a rabbit enthusiast and all her pets got set free and
Well, you can fill in the rest.
It’s a sick joke, I know.
I wonder if she liked rabbits.
I see that report every Monday on the six o’clock news. It’s a tragic story. A girl gets hit by a drunk driver. Its her dad in an unnamed vehicle. That family already had enough trouble. The mother and eldest son died a couple years ago in a kitchen fire. I remember the funeral. No candles. I was so sad. We all were.
You’d think that’s what drove the man to drink. No. He’d always been a drunk, long as he could remember. Which could be not that long, situationally, but longer than he’d been married. He was the town drunk. In a big town, that’s a feat. Fits the situation.
I kind of float through life, to be honest.
These damn rabbits are getting to my head.
It’s not even disturbing any more, just annoying.
Two whole years.
Truth be told it hasn’t felt like two years. Not nearly that long. But I guess when everyday's the same as the last: school eat sleep school eat sleep schooleatsleepschooleatsleep, the days blend together. I’m not depressed. I don’t really feel anything. Just kind of float through.
Maybe I am depressed.
I’m in the final stretch of school. Senior year. It feels like it’s lasted an eternity. Every day is the same, we drag it out waiting for that last bell.
I transferred to this school halfway through the year. It’s right along the way to my old one. I’ve taken the same route forever. All new people. They seem to like me, though. Or, tolerate me.
The one thing no one likes is the snow. This is Michigan, we have eternal snow. But it’s felt like three eternities. Two whole years of snow.
One more year.
I remembered today.
I remembered my dad.
I don’t remember when he died, but I know he must have. I’m eighteen and I live alone. He was the gentlest soul, most of the time. It’s true. He just had some bad parts.
He liked rabbits. He owned three. I forget what happened to them.
I walk to school every morning, and walk home at three.
I used to have a job, don’t remember what happened to it.
I must be depressed.
I don’t have a lot of friends.
None that I can even name.
People tolerate me at school, like me even.
I have friends at school.
Two, at least.
I don’t remember turning 18. I just know because it’s been two years since I was sixteen. And I live alone. But I still go to school. Senior year, they say, is the best and worst. I haven’t hit “senioritis” yet, but I have seen the future. Not literally. I think about it all the time. All the hundreds of thousands of millions of things I could be. It excites me.
It also gives me a strange, deep sense of mourning.
Mourning my childhood? School years?
I don’t feel much outside of school.
One thing I don’t understand still. Where do all the rabbits come from? Every 3-2-1 days, I skirt a car and another poor one suffers my fate. It feels like there are hundreds of thousands of millions of them. All lives cut short by Toyota.
No one else has died since the girl. I’ve had a few close-to run-ins with cars. But they don’t hit me. Not much else has happened. That I know of. The people in the town are in a state of suspended animation, mourning. It was a couple months ago. It’s a big town.
I don’t feel like myself anymore. I’m not grieving. I’m the only one not grieving. I don’t feel like myself anymore. My life doesn’t feel like my life. It feels like a dream. A dream cursed with car accidents and rabbits and drunk drivers.
I must be depressed.
The only thing I like anymore is school. Because I can’t wait to graduate. I can move away from this town. From the rabbits. From that route to school.
I should have moved the moment I saw the third rabbit hit.
Three times and staying, that is pure delinquency.
Two times, that was a mistake.
The first one was the worst.
I walk to school every morning. The only thing I like anymore is school. School and the snow. I don’t know, I just like the snow.
Today I’m walking in the evening, walking to school for a ceremony.
And I feel.
I can’t contain my excitement over being, well excited! And happy, and impatient. For school. That’s what I like the most.
Today’s a special day, I can’t contain my excitement.
I’m so excited I didn’t see the Toyota careening towards me at the crosswalk. Didn’t even catch a glimpse of what colour it was. I had a nanosecond to brace myself and count down 321and. I heard it. Screeeech.
I haven’t been hit!
It came right toward me but I wasn’t hit!
I could’ve sworn, it almost went right through me!
It kept driving, kept going. I didn’t see where it went.
I just felt happy. The most pleasant I’ve been in a while. The walk didn’t feel unbearable and dull and repetitive anymore. It felt so peaceful.
Snow fell to the ground. Started halfway to school. I love the snow. Even in Michigan. It’s not even cold, I don’t feel it.
And the best part
I knew where I was going.
And I was so happy to go there.
I’m going exactly where I should be.
I yank open the door at the front of the school.
They’re in here.
I rush into the auditorium.
There they are.
I fall into the arms of my mom and my older brother Peter. Dad isn’t here. Good. We know where he is.
Where the abusive drunks go.
Where the lazy drunks who start a kitchen fire with spilled whiskey go.
Mom and Peter. I missed them. I’ve missed them for the past three years. Three real years. Not two. Not the two that existed within three nanoseconds. Or eternity.
My grandparents are here, they said no matter what they wouldn’t miss my achievements. My neighbours are here. The sweet elderly couple who were like great-grandparents in my youth.
I am so happy.
I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.