by maryanne stahl

I press lightly on the brake, slowing down when I get to the river. The sun is about to set, casting red-gold glints across the flat, bright water. A line of geese glides by and a lone mallard. His head is purple, then green. The road winds, following the languorous curves of the riverbank. My eyes flicker back and forth between the landscape to my right and the asphalt lane beyond my windshield, the landscape holding my gaze longer than is prudent. I should know better than to let my attention wander on this well-traveled road but I do it anyway, as I have always done. I am on my way to my father's house. It is early evening and I am looking for rabbits.

Rabbits journey out from the concealing brush to the open, grassy verge around this time of day, I know, in search of a leafy dinner. They move like shadows through the long shadows.

I envy them their peaceful ritual. Compared to the ineluctable tensions of my own imminent repast, with its silent accusations, its muted affronts, its undigestible leftovers of recrimination, a rabbit's evening banquet is an idyll of tranquility.

This is the most beautiful moment of the day, the time between times that seems to hold in its shimmering pause everything that has come before and everything that is possible. Whatever wind has blown earlier is invariably hushed; whatever light has glared or dimmed is filtered through molecules of sky and plant and reflected by cool green water. A pause for magic.

If I see a rabbit, I have told myself for more than thirty years, what I wish to be will be, what I desire sated, but only once. One rabbit, the first, one wish. Today my spirit needs a rabbit as much as my body needs the hearty if disheartening meal toward which I advance.

My eyes seek soft brown, see brown, in patches throughout the grass, in gaps between the brush, in the twitch of a duck's wing as it rests within the reeds.

The whoosh of the speeding pick-up truck as it passes startles me: my hands jerk on the steering wheel, my car turns sharply to the right. The weight of my car tips toward the shadows. I look up at the road in time to see that the passing truck will not hit me, would not have hit me, but it is too late.

My right front wheel dips into the narrow ravine between the road and the verge and I lose control.

And everything that happens happens slowly, as if by a trick of light, as if by magic. And all the while I'm tumbling, I am looking for a rabbit.


Maryanne Stahl, author of Forgive the Moon is completing her second novel, The Opposite Shore.
Look for it in bookstores this summer. It's another great "take me to the shore" book.
Editors Note:
"Looking for Rabbits" was originally published online in another fine literary zine.
Stahl, Maryanne. "Looking for Rabbits." Mindkites.
December 2000.

Want to read more about Maryanne? Read Brenda T. Hall's interview Writing the Second Novel.

::The Annual TenTen:: ~ ::Call for Fiction::
::the deadline to enter this year's competition is July 1, 2003::
::this is the final short story contest this year, so send in your fiction::the award is $1,010.00::


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