I hid the babies in my closet. There were three–baby rabbits that fit in the palm of my hand. The stray cat that had taken to sleeping in our carport had killed their mother, and my step-sister and I found the babies in the dirt by the pool.
N. wasn’t living with us anymore, but it was that summer where she stayed over a lot and snuck out with boys. She helped me make a box to keep the rabbits in and I put the box in my closet. Once in a while my dad would poke his head in my room and say, “Do you hear something?”
The tiny things were scratching the side of the box. “No,” I would say, reaching over to turn on my clock radio. “Maybe that squirrel got back in the attic.”
I’d been hiding the rabbits for less than two weeks when N. met me at the door, jerked me to her, and hissed in my ear. “They got out.”
Every time dad walked into the room we were searching, we’d pretend to be doing something else–dusting the shelves or looking at the Time/Life books. We found two of the rabbits. One sick. The other in the mouth of the cat. Eventually dad came inside to make lunch and we had to stop looking.
After lunch N. and I were watching TV, the lost rabbit forgotten. “Mahda!” my dad shouted from down the hall.
“Whada?” I shouted back.
“There’s a dead rabbit in my room!” N. and I exchanged wide-eyed looks. “You know anything about that?” he asked. I could see him now, standing in the dining room.
I shook my head slowly. “A rabbit? Really? Why would I know anything about that? I’ve been watching tv.”
Dad was now standing in the doorway of the Floridaroom doorway. I shrugged. “That sure is weird,” I said. “You know, you’ve been going in and out all day. Maybe it came it while you had the door open. Like that snake. Remember that? And there was that rat, too. Right?” This was all true, but things crawled in because N. or I left the door open. He never did that.
“Mahda,” he said. “I don’t want to find another dead rabbit in my room. Is that understood?” I nodded. “Good. Now go take care of it.”
N. kept a look out for dad while I buried the three rabbits under a palm tree in hard, chalky dirt.
In fiction, I try to control what I reveal, but it’s difficult work. Seems readers will hear evidence of things I didn’t intend for them to hear. They might say–Hey, look at this. Here. You must be responsible. I want to shake my head and deny it. Wasn’t me. You, the reader, are letting these things in. Well, either you or the cat. I, of course, am completely innocent. Right?