Most people won’t buy land that borders the Thruway, but her father sees opportunity. He builds a home close by. His oldest daughter, Macy, strides down the road. Crumbled asphalt and dirt form a narrow trail along the cracked edge. She has fled the house of chaos. Strange new resentments poke at her shoulders. Words like helpful and dependable are a burden. She heads for the overpass. She seeks something like quiet or solitude but can’t say exactly what.
The autumn wind makes her honey hair swirl in an unruly tousle. Though she tries, the sleeves of her light jacket are too short to cover her curled hands. When Macy reaches the overpass, she clambers over the wavy aluminum guardrail then stagger-slides down the slope. A narrow stream threads along the base of the manufactured hill. There on the bank, she spots it.
It’s a velveteen rabbit. She picks up the pale brown and cream poppet. One button eye is missing. The fabric is rubbed to bare threads on its limbs and face. Its white tail is a shred of loose fibers. “Hello, Bunny. How did you get here?” She examines the tattered paws, wiggles them to measure their flexibility.
The bunny opens its eye and blinks. “Are you the faery who will make me real?”
She giggles, covering her mouth with one hand. “I’m not a faery.”
The bunny sighs and turns away, “You see, it’s just that I’ve been waiting ever so long.”
Macy lifts a floppy ear, rearranges the forked bits, so they fall behind its head. “Try not to be sad. I’m certain she’s very busy. Maybe she’s having trouble finding you.” The girl scratches the bunny’s shabby cheeks. She has no toys of her own. “Would you like me to rock you?”
“Oh yes, that would be ever so lovely.”
She cradles the bunny in her arms; squats and warbles “Silent Night.” It’s the only lullaby she knows.
The bunny snuffles into her warmth. “Are you asleep, Bunny?” she whispers. “I wish I could make you real. If I was a faery, maybe my mom and dad would like me better. They’re always mad.”
She cuddles the bunny until dusk. There’s no way her mother will let her keep him. Macy scans the area for a hiding place but there’s nothing but mounds of grass and the muddy sides of the creek. Reluctantly, she positions the bunny on the top of the culvert that directs the stream underground. She wishes she had something to hide him. She bends some tall yellow hay over the bunny instead, then leans down and rubs her nose against his grizzled face. The concrete radiates the day’s stored sunshine and might keep him warm.
Mom is calling. It’s time to go home. Macy clambers up the hill. Reaching the top, she pulls her collar up to her ears, then shoves her fists in her pockets.
The bunny crouches under the screen of yellow straw and watches with his one good eye as the girl climbs. He waits until she disappears. Nose twitching, he creeps along the warm cement edge, sampling morsels of green as he goes. The wind ruffles his mangy fur and the bunny shivers. Cautiously, with little limping hops, he vanishes into the withered undergrowth.
Nina Fosati loves portraiture and historic clothing. Beguiled, she regularly holds forth on her favorites @NinaFosati. Recent work has or will soon appear in the Disabled Voices Anthology, Persephone’s Daughters, the Cabinet of Heed, Pen 2 Paper TX, and L’Éphémère Review.