HOW RABBITS FINALLY TOOK OVER THE WORLD
Some time after the extinction of whales, babies were born in pieces. Lungs, feet, spleens all separate and in heaps. We dumped the remains of our babies in the woods, in the fields and into the seas. To our dismay, the single parts arose and animated. Heads without necks rolled around trying to connect with other parts. Hearts, arms, and tongues crept over the Earth in grotesque parades. Organs and limbs clumped together and survived for a time. One species sported a head, a lung, and a huge, inverted foot with eight toes. It hopped around at an astonishing speed, and in inclement weather, it raised its foot above its head like an umbrella. Herds of one-eyed livers slithered over hill and dale until the species that resembled a crab (but was really a hand with a mouth in its palm) gobbled up all the one-eyed livers. It went on like this for millions of years, hybrid devouring hybrid. Until one day, scores of baby ears nested inside each other to form beautiful fleshy dahlias. Rabbits all over the world thrived on the sweet, soft lobes. Rabbits of the fields and of the ice and the air grew as large as humans, were born whole and forever tender.
At the party, my mother curls into a set of ovaries and vein-blue tubes. A shiny dark bag blooms from her mouth and turns her inside out. Everyone is laughing. I pick her up and carry her upstairs. She is slippery and making a sound like static. I find my brother lying in the hall. One eye whirling in its socket. His arms and legs are fleshy knobs, red and swollen like the walls. I drop my mother, and everybody laughs. It’s just so funny. She slumps over and throbs in the corner. My brother slouches toward her. I try to grab him by the stumps, but they are slick from the forewaters. I keep dropping him in the rising muck. Everyone is convulsively laughing. We can’t stop. We slip, go under. It’s hilarious. All of us grabbing onto each other. All of us ill-made, laughing, and trying to get back inside.
A friend makes me a beautiful handbag in all my favorite colors—rusty orange and chocolate polka dots embroidered with golden thread. When I stroll through town, I get a lot of compliments and feel very special. The next day, even though I didn’t put anything in the bag, it starts to get heavy. When I bring it back to my friend’s house, she turns it upside down and out pours a pyramid of brilliant jewels I have stolen. They are blindingly beautiful! I’m surprised because I don’t remember stealing the jewels, but I’m so grateful for the beautiful bag, I give them to her. After a time, the bag becomes heavy again. When my friend empties it, out falls more jewels and a severed hand. I realize it’s my hand and start to scream. There, there, she says, you’ve still got your other hand. Here, let me paint your fingernails a beautiful arctic blue. She holds my hand in hers with such tenderness I start to cry. Of course, you’re right. Thank you, I say, and leave with my beautiful bag in my one beautiful hand. Year after year I empty the bag of body parts on her couch, until one day it’s too heavy to lift. I drag it down the street by my teeth. I am hobbled and ugly, I say to my friend. No, she says, you are like a rare bird who flies without wings, who sings without a beak. Yes, of course, you’re right, I say. It’s very dark in your house today, I say, and I can hardly hear you. I think I’m inside the bag. No, she says, you’re sitting here right beside me. It’s just your head inside the bag and it’s beautiful.