My friend, *Jack Tate, with his back to the bus driver and feet in the aisle, faced me from the seat diagonal to mine. I sat on the edge of mine leaning in, while holding onto the bar at the top, to hear what he was saying. I could see Jack’s mouth forming words, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying.“What?”
“I have baby rabbits for sale.”
We’d left childhood behind and blindly walked into adolescence without much warning. Jack was a year younger, a nice kid, easy on the eyes with dark blond hair and beaming smile. He was my bus friend.
“How much?”“Two dollars.”
“That’s a good deal,” I said, not knowing if it was or not. Our conversation ended when Jack waded through the kids in the aisle and got off the bus.I don’t remember how much bargaining or pleading I did that night at home, to be able to buy a bunny, but the next thing I remember I was at Jack’s house buying one of his rabbits. I named her Suzy.
Suzy was a doe with soft white fur and pink eyes. Her front feet were dainty, but her back feet were long with sharp claws. I learned fast how to hold her to avoid injury. For me, it was love at first sight. Suzy did her rabbit thing and I provided most of what she needed to grow into an adult. That summer, I planted a garden just for Suzy so she’d have fresh lettuce every day. When her trust in me grew, we bonded and soon I had introduced her to a leash (baling twine) so that we could take short walks together--girl and rabbit.I spent hours sitting in shaded clover patches, my long skinny legs outstretched, with my rabbit grazing from the safety of a rope. Even though she seemed content, I recognized wanderlust in Suzy's pink eyes. Maybe she longed for another rabbit or a greener yard. I knew the instinct was there and how one clover could lure her to another, without a thought of me or the consequences.
One dew covered morning, I rushed outside to feed Suzy grabbing a handful of lettuce on the way. That day, I planned to do something that young pet owners often neglect, clean her cage and go for another walk after that. But, as I walked up the hill, I could see Suzy’s cage and that she wasn’t waiting for me at the door as usual. I ran over the slick grass to her hutch only to find that the door was not latched and Suzy was gone.The door wasn’t mangled and there was no evidence of a struggle, only a door left unlatched by me. I believed that Suzy was still alive and with a racing heart full of panic I started searching, our mini-farm, high and low for my bunny rabbit. After that, my family helped in the search walking the open fields behind our barn and the woods surrounding us.
We didn’t find Suzy. But, for weeks after that and even the next spring and summer, I watched for white spotted baby rabbits that would give evidence that Suzy had indeed survived and was a part of the wild rabbit community, but there were none.Rabbit love is complicated—but only for the human.