rabbit

The man in the white coat asked, “Was it a rabbit or was it a boy?”

“It was a rabbit,” I said.

At first, everyone thought the rabbit was fun to have around. He’d make an occasional guest appearance, run through the room, fueled by the uniqueness of his appearance, flaunt his rabbithood before he disappeared and left the crowd hungry for more. Silly rabbit.

I saw on the doctor’s coat that his name was Garfield.

“We need to talk about versions. Do you remember when they brought you in, you asked about a boy?” Garfield tightened the leather straps holding my hands and ankles to the bed. “Would you concede some people thought it was a rabbit and some people thought it was a boy?”

“It was a rabbit,” I said.

Versions? When I’ve closed my eyes, I’ve seen the slide show of a boy who would pretend to be a rabbit. Cute imagination. What an advanced right brain. Fun to show to friends. Hard to explain to teachers. Damn impossible to bear the stares in the church pew. A ruse that even Dr. Phil couldn’t get the boy to release. Some people don’t ever let daybreak stop a dream.

“It was a rabbit,” I said.

I wished he had pulled the straps tighter and pinned me to nothingness. The tray of slides had been dropped on the floor. Someone picked them up but now they were dirty and out of order. There was no son. There was no wife. No Dr. Phil. Just the rabbit that settled in and made the living room his own, ran around throwing rabbit shit like confetti. He circled me and left yellow puddles. The rabbit had to go.

Before leaving, the doc had said, “I want you to work on answering the question.”

“It was a rabbit,” I said.

The last slide had shown but someone was still advancing the reel: click, click, click…

The bright light of the empty white screen hurt like hell. I had agreed to remove the rabbit. It should have been an easy trick to catch it with a bucket, let it free in the grass where it belonged, so I could be free too, but the task was foiled. The damn rabbit didn’t like buckets. The little bastard had teeth.

“Was it a rabbit or was it a boy?” I asked out loud, in the doctor’s voice.

I caught it by the neck. The bite had turned the plan for freedom into a knife. As the blade stretched across the throat, it highlighted the question in blood, the head limped back, and the fur disappeared. The question was answered before the boy’s skull hit the cement.

“It was a rabbit,” I exhaled.

 

(Originally published in the British Fantasy Society Journal #10)