Do you want me to tell you a true story? Okay. I will.
The reason I remembered this true story, is because I was driving through a neighbourhood I lived in about 20 years ago, and I had a flash of what happened. Somehow, I had buried the weirdness of it all until now, partly because of the bunny, but mostly because of the penis.
I know, right? I’ve hooked you in. Here is how it unfolded.
When Rin and the boys were little, we lived in the upstairs part of a huge Victorian terrace that had been divided into two flats. The house was triple-fronted with a full width balcony. The garden was full of knobbly but fragrant roses, camellias and ugly conifers. In the back yard was a huge Blue Spruce and underneath that was a rabbit hutch.
The hutch and the ground surrounding it was confetti-ed with spiky needles that had dropped from the tree. In the hutch was a big, white bunny. The bunny was very beautiful, but it kicked very hard. We didn’t pick it up much (because of the kicks), but the kids made little trips to the hutch to feed it bunny treats and make sure it had plenty of water and clean bedding a couple of times a day.
One day… the treats stayed clutched in little hands. Little mouths drew sharp, shocked breaths.
The bunny was gone.
The flap to the hutch was ajar and the bunny was nowhere to be seen. We searched the garden and the street, pushed aside thoughts that a dog had taken a liking to the bunny and hoped it would come back.
It must have done a super-kick out of the cage, the kids hypothesised.
I shuddered to think.
Eventually we got used to the bunny being gone and we put the hutch out on the nature strip for hard rubbish collection, long-forgotten, cobwebby bunny bedding still tucked inside.
Months later, I was hanging out the washing on a gorgeous, sunny morning when something caught my eye. A flash of white on the other side of the (quite broken and gappy) fence.
I moved closer to the gap that had revealed the white flash, putting my eye closer to the space between the palings and sure enough… our bunny!
My heart soared, of course, but a second later… our polite and quiet neighbour came into view. He was having a big stretch. He was in the nude.
My eyes dropped inappropriately to double-check the nudeness and then righted themselves, only to make direct eye contact with polite, quiet, nude neighbour.
We stared at each other for a few seconds – time pretty much standing still – and then we both lurched away from the fence gap with a jerk.
I hurried inside and made a steadying cup of tea. Then I tried to work out what had just happened and how the bunny could be next door after all this time and why the neighbour was in the nude in the yard watching the bunny chew the grass down.
Later, the neighbour came to the door (wearing pants) and explained that he had indeed found the bunny and was looking after it. That it had been sick. That he’d been nursing it back to health.
I said thank you many, many times smiling and pretending not to be thinking about the penis or the mystery of it all. Then I awkwardly offered him some money I didn’t have, for the bunny’s medical bills. He shook his head, said he really liked the bunny and it was the least he could do. That he’d not wanted the kids to know that the bunny was unwell. That the bunny had been in bad, bad shape.
And so… That was it.
He sort of backed away from our front door and we never really spoke again. During the few minutes we’d spent on the doorstep, I had somehow transferred bunny ownership to nude (polite) neighbour without even explicitly agreeing to do so.
The bunny did look really happy next door, to be fair, apparently preferring freedom and nudity to toddler fists offering rabbit treats.
It was only when I was driving past the house again the other day that I realised something.
Maybe the bunny had not even been sick and my extreme red-faced need for the fence-peering-penis-spotting-bunny incident to completely go away had speedily clouded my judgement/critical thinking skills? Maybe the neighbour just really liked bunnies?
We never saw the bunny again. Probably if I’d asked to or peered through the fence, I could have… but once bitten, twice shy etc. Obviously I was a timid creature back then and a clean break seemed the only solution.
Still, I am still thinking that if my current neighbour/s borrowed my now-non-existant bunny for many months (when we thought it’d been lost to the wolves/cats/dogs) and innocently watched it frolic as they did nude stretches on a sunshine-y day amidst the daisies while I peered through their fence, even as a total grown-up, I STILL might back away awkwardly and pretend it had never happened…
Me —> “What bunny? What penis? Nope.”