Rabbit in the Garden

I asked my students to write a 26 sentence story. The first sentence must begin with the letter A. The second sentence with the letter B. The third with C, and so on. I allowed them the same cheat I used when this was a Story-a-Day prompt–instead of having to start a sentence with the letter X, they could start with a word with an X sound. So, they could write words such as exciting, exactly, or experts. The students were horrified. Ha!

Even though I’d written such a story myself thanks to Story-a-Day, I was actually looking at a writing book that added another level of difficulty; one sentence needs to be 100 words. I did not ask the students to do that! I think they would have fled the room.

But I did do something I never do. I shared my own effort with some of them. They don’t know how anxious that makes, and they liked seeing I wasn’t asking them to do something I wouldn’t try myself.


marta pelrine-bacon

2020—Year the of Plague

Alvie Monroe waited in the garden for her spell to work. Banshee, her pet rabbit, sat nearby, staring into the undergrowth. Clouds, thick and lazy, covered the sunrise. Dandelions swayed in the breeze. Everything seemed prepared. For a moment though, Alvie doubted and considered returning to bed. Giving up an entire morning for the impossible felt more foolish by the minute. However, one glance back at the house reset her resolve to prove everyone wrong.

Impossible is not in my vocabulary,” she whispered, and Banshee nodded in agreement.

Just then a rustle went through the underbrush. Keeping quiet, Banshee moved forward to a better look. Leaves in the trees shivered on their stems. Minutes passed.


Overhead the sky lightened. Perhaps, Alive thought, she’d misread the signs or said one of the words wrong. Quiet, strange and sudden, then settled over the garden.

Riveted by the shadows, Banshee beat her back paw against the ground. Soil flew. Thump, thump, thump. Under the gardenias appeared a dark shape. Violet eyes shone from the dark, and Alvie gasped.

Was their plan going to work? “Extraordinary,” Alvie whispered, captivated.

You didn’t really think I’d come, did you?” came a voice from the violet-eyed creature. “Zero faith,” said the shadowy shape, its teeth glinting, “and yet here I am, summoned, ready for anything, and quite, quite hungry.”


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4 thoughts on “Rabbit in the Garden

  1. Clare Wuellner

    As always, completely wonderful! Bet the students were blown away. Could you share any of their stories? Doing this assignment must have been especially difficult in a second language. Even if one assumes that the English-as-a-Second-Language student were fluent in English—and I assume this was assigned in a high-level writing course—the fact that the assignment also requires an open and nimble mind plus an ability to summon substantial creativity (things you, my friend, clearly possess in a category somewhere in the area of five or six standard deviations above average), must have been a significant barrier to completing this assignment for many of your students because, unfortunately, the fact is that such talent is not gifted to many of us, even when composing in our primary languages.


    Google could certainly help with finding words that start with a particular letter. However, you might not have allowed this. Is that the case? Just checking. Killer, if you didn’t. Lovely, if you did. Makes no difference to me.

    Not really. Obviously, I think it’s an important question, because I asked it.

    Perhaps you want to know why. Questions like this are seldom random.

    Ready to know why I asked? Seems I had to use Google myself… True story! Unfortunately for me, I got stuck on “G.”

    Very ironic, no?

    Well, I think so.

    X-rays—now there’s a topic worth exploring! Yet, I only have one more sentence to expound and I feel…so…sleepy….


    On Aug 9, 2022 at 10:19 PM, <Marta Pelrine-Bac

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