A Bunny In Winter
I stopped along the walkway which cut across the snow-covered lawn. I had wanted to get to the Hayden Library at M.I.T. before the snow really started falling.
But a gray rabbit caught my eye.
He was long, about the size of a full-grown cat. I approached him — all animals are male until proven otherwise — but he kept nibbling the small patch of grass he had cleared.
I was afraid that if I got any closer that he’d run. But I guess his winter-time hunger was stronger than any fear of humans.
“You’re going to have to clear your own patch,” he said.
“Seriously, I’ve been at M.I.T. for six years now. Of course, I can converse.”
“In how many languages?” I asked, still incredulous.
“In addition to English, I speak both Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, German, Russian, as well as several Indian dialects. I picked this up from the engineering students. They love to talk!”
“Are you cold?” I asked. The snow had started to fall harder.
“My feet are becoming numb, but the snow is going to stop in half an hour, followed by a quick warm up. That’s the hard part, when it gets all shush and muddy.”
I took off my backpack, as my shoulders had started getting sore. At the ripe old age of sixty, my frame wasn’t used to supporting a backpack. I brushed the excess snow from the backpack and from my shoulders.
“Do you need anything?” was all I could think of to say.
The rabbit stopped his nibbling and looked up at me.
“I do have one request. If you happen to see a large falcon, could you steer her away from this area? I would be ever so grateful.”
“Sure. No worries,” I said, adding, “Take care.”
“You, too, luv!”
I walked away. I didn’t dare look back, in case he wasn’t really there and I had imagined the whole thing. I always believe that animals do communicate with us; we just can’t understand them.
As I reached the other side of the snowy lawn, a shadow passed over me. I looked up, and a large bird swooshed by, landing in a scrawny tree.
She cried, not a bird’s cry but a plaintive woman’s cry.
I watched her, not saying a word.
“I haven’t eaten in days, and my babies are starving,” she lamented loudly. “These Boston winters are an absolute horror!”
“Aren’t they!” I answered.
She didn’t turn around.
“Are you a hawk or a falcon?” I asked.
She turned her head and looked at me in much the same way as Scatlett O’Hara glared at Mammy before the barbecue at Twelve Oaks in Gone With The Wind. My niece called it an “RBF” — “resting bitch face.”
“I am a peregrine falcon, thank you very much,” she snarled.
“Forgive me. I’m a city girl. Born and raised in Somerville,” I apologized, adding, “I live in Malden now.”
“I just came from Malden,” she said, the edge disappearing from her voice. “That’s where my two babies are.”
“I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time.”
“You didn’t happen to see a nasty rabbit in the area, did you?” she asked.
“I’ve seen a few in the area, but one lately,” I lied, badly.
“Oh, dear. If the winter’s starting like this, I don’t think any of us will make it.”
“Well, I wish I could be more helpful,” I said, putting my backpack on.
“Are you sure you haven’t seen that nasty rabbit?”
I shook my head ‘no’.
“Are you absolutely sure?”
I was cracking.
“I may have seen one, but that was hours ago. He was heading across the Mass Ave bridge.”
The falcon looked past me, in the direction from where I had come.
“Didn’t I hear you talking to someone before you got here?”
“Um, I’m always mumbling to myself. I’m a writer, and I say some of my writing aloud to see if it ‘works’.”
“Oh,” she said. She paused and stared at me.
Don’t talk, I thought to myself. She wants to get me to talk. The more I talk, there I may reveal. And even if the bunny is, as she says, nasty, I did tell him that I would help him out.
Well, goodbye. I hope you can find some food for your babies,” I said.
I walked toward the library.
I turned and stared at the falcon. And stared. I then turned my body and started again for the library.
This time, I didn’t turn around. I knew that if I did, I’d be tempted to look toward where I had spoken to the rabbit, and would give away his position.
I finished my research and, sitting in on of the large club chairs, stared at Boston and at the Charles River. The banks of the river were choked with ice. The snow lay soft on the trees. The cars crawled by on Memorial Drive.
Just in front of the library, the rabbit nibbled on another patch of grass which he had cleared.
In the distance, the falcon circled on the Boston side of the Mass Ave bridge.
“Write about winter.” (Writing Prompt #32)