Puff the Tragic Rabbit – A Serial

Have you read Greenwoman Magazine?  Greenwoman is an extraordinary literary magazine published right here in Colorado Springs.  The editor, Sandra Knauf, collects beautifully written stories, poetry and images about gardening and sustainability.  I have a subscription and read every issue cover to cover.

Sandra writes beautifully as well and I jumped on the chance when she said I could publish a story she had written.  It’s a sad story, but I since I just had to let Snowball go, I sure can relate.  I’m going to publish it like an old fashioned serial, one installment every week for ten weeks.  Tune in on Thursdays to read the continuing saga of “Puff the Tragic Rabbit”…

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Puff, a.k.a. Fox Mulder, former humper-bunny extraordinaire, rested on a towel in my lap as I fed him Earth Farms Organic baby food, diluted with warm milk and spiked with crushed antibiotics. The carrot goo, administered through syringe, dribbled out his mouth and down his dirty-white chest. The dwarf rabbit looked rough; he’d had surgery the day before to open up a large-marble-sized abscess on his chin. We were surprised he made it through. I didn’t see how someone so tiny and weak, little more than fur and air, could survive. I just knew his heart would give out. I’d almost planned his funeral. But here he was.

The bald, fleshy abscess now had a gaping hole in it. Terrifically gross, but I was beginning to get used to it. I had to keep it clean by squirting it with saline solution a couple times a day with a bigger syringe.

Even though Puff had made it through surgery, the vet hadn’t been optimistic.

“I wasn’t able to drain it because Lepus have a thick, non-liquid, almost hard pus,”

Dr. Hart explained, as I and my two daughters gathered around his cage. “I got out as much as I could.”

Six-year-old Lily stared at the rabbit. Though she’d recently confided she thought the young doctor “cute,” she wouldn’t look at him now. “He’s bloody,” she announced,  her eyes glued to Puff’s blood-flecked chest. She was scandalized.

“Honey, they don’t have time to bathe them after surgery,” I whispered. Her sister, Zora, ten, petted Puff silently.

“We’ll keep him on antibiotics and see what happens,” said Dr. Hart.

As I fed Puff, I thought about the nightmare Lily shared with me that morning. She dreamed Puff had a hole in his throat and all his blood squirted out until he got as small and skinny as a deflated balloon. As he sat on my lap, sucking down baby food, wanting to live, I wanted to weep.

Maybe this was my penance for not taking good enough care of our first rabbit. Oscar was a lop-eared rabbit from the feed store, last year’s Easter present for the girls, especially Lily, who’d became smitten with rabbits in kindergarten. Although Oscar proved to have dangerous claws and an independent personality (in other words, not a huggable playmate), we enjoyed him as an addition to our family. Unfortunately, his stay was short. He disappeared from our fenced back yard last summer and was never found.  I’d been the one who thought it’d be okay to let him scamper free.

When spring came again this year, all crocuses, daffodils and marshmallow chicks, my mind returned to those happy heralds of spring, bunnies. In May, I noticed a classified ad: “Free male dwarf rabbit to a good home. Comes with a hutch and food. ” I called and the owner described him, “He’s Himalayan, white with dark markings.”

White, I thought, that’s the rabbit color Zora likes best. White with pink eyes, like the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. Then she mentioned his name, Felix.

Felix. Our first bunny was…Oscar. It had to be fate.

“We want him.”

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Sandra Knauf is the publisher and editor of Greenwoman Magazine, a new sustainability-minded garden writing magazine that features fiction, creative nonfiction, interviews, commentary, art, and more. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints, an Utne Reader award-nominated garden writing journal. She’s also written for Colorado Gardener, and has been a guest commentator on KRCC’s “Western Skies” radio show. She is currently readying her young adult novel, Zera and the Green Man, for e-book publication, and working on issue #4 of her magazine.

Click here for Part II of “Puff the Tragic Rabbit”.