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He Hopped Alongside
And then left to his own devices...
He hopped alongside Mason for as long and as far as he dare, which was more than a half mile. Along the way, Mason talked to him – or was it a her, who could tell without being a zoologist or a rabbit hobbyist?
Mason remembered well what it was like having a pet bunny growing up. He’d feed it, water it, clean up its cage, and just cuddle with it. He still doesn’t know how it escaped, though he suspected his mother or brother, the only two others in the house at the time. He was sure he put the brick over the cage top each night, but on that fateful night, the brick was across the room and the top was open. Fluffy was nowhere to be found. Fluffy – silly name that – gave Mason a lot of joy and comfort growing up.
But now Fluffy 2.0 was keeping up with Mason every step of the way. When he crossed an alley, Fluffy was more cautious but within ten seconds of Mason getting to the other side, Fluffy was right alongside him.
Mason knew this protection relationship with Fluffy couldn’t last. He knew that as soon as he went to pick the bunny up, Fluffy would dart away, the human having broken the bond they were slowly building. Even if he did manage to pick him up and cuddle one time, the bunny’s heart would be racing like it did when he used to pick up Fluffy 1.0.
Back then, it took him two minutes to calm down as Mason would pet him gently to ease Fluffy’s mind, but those were under ideal pet conditions.
Presently, the breakup was inevitable because Mason would have to cross a four-lane road and leave Fluffy 2.0 on the curb, hoping and praying he didn’t decide to follow. Through the years, that same 4-lane road had been littered with other Fluffys who dared to cross in front of vehicles. On a busy morning or evening, Small animals didn’t stand much of a chance getting to the other side safely.
Instead, Fluffy would have to take his chances in the wild of the nearby forest. Unfortunately, Fluffy’s prospect for a long life were slim with larger four-legged predators also loose in the wild in that forest. But Mason couldn’t concern himself with events outside his control. He did what any caring individual would have done: he took one exaggerated step towards Fluffy, and the rabbit darted into the nearby bushes. Mason tried to think of a dozen other ways he could’ve ended the short relationship, but that was the best and most practical. Anything else would have endangered Fluffy even more.
As Mason got to the other side of the four-lane, he looked back at his furry friend. He could still see Fluffy’s head peeking out from the bushes, afraid to do anything else, but not really knowing what to expect from this moment forward. If rabbits ever got lonely, this would definitely had been one of those times.
When a refrigerated semi passed between Mason and Fluffy for a full second, Mason lost sight of the rabbit. When the other side of the road was visible, Fluffy was nowhere in sight.
Mason would just have to trust that the rabbit could take care of himself in the wild and cruel world, much like he had to do for the three years before they had met.