Essay

In My Whole Life, I Never Saw a Rabbit [Flash Fiction]

She thinks again about what she wants for lunch. She pauses once more about what she should get for lunch. A third time about maybe having what she had decided on having when she was leaving the park earlier, a few minutes ago, the number of them that it takes to walk to where she is presently from where she was only several or more moments ago. She is a brisk walker. She suddenly remembers that she has the makings of a nice salad at home. She wonders for a moment why she would have forgotten about that. She stops considering that immediately as she turns and gazes onto a male pigeon chasing a female pigeon, all puffed up as he is, strutting, as he does, she says we say, thinks about how we say what we do about birds and men, the walk they walk when they are on call to mate, thinking, as she does, that the pigeon does look a lot like the peacock she had seen once on the grounds of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, uptown, near Columbia–when was she last there? She does not ask. It must, though, pass in mind, as thoughts often pass in mind, where exactly in mind do they course through the synapses; she expresses herself as she does often somehow under the words she would have spoken if they had found their way to being said. What is it to say what wants to say, to say what means to say, words never saying, never meaning, what then do they do, the words we speak she speaks, saying at, is it that words never mean what they say at or words never say what they mean at, she cannot remember this, what her friend Addie had said to her one time, how long ago was it, when she was an undergraduate, a seminar in Faulkner, she was there and so was Addie.

She stops and turns away from where she was going, the direction she taking to get to the Chinese take-out where she was going to buy a chicken and broccoli lunch with hot and sour soup. Instead of continuing on to the take-out, she sits on a bench at the perimeter of another part of the park she was just sitting in and writing, yes, again , to sit to  write. This time she sits and writes about what she was just thinking, about men and peacocks and pigeons and strutting and Saint John the Divine and coffee at the Hungarian Pastry shop on Amsterdam with friends who were completing their MFA at Columbia; a party she had been to on Riverside one night, reading poetry, everybody was, her own, she did, and later with numbers exchanged, never dialed. How many years has it been, and how long has it been since she last spoke to any of them she had been so fast and thick with for a time?

She recalls a story her mother used to relay to her, and to others, about a time they were all at her mother’s mother’s sister’s summer house by the lake in Pittsfield, and how in the lawn out back that wound down to the lake, the house on a hill, she had seen a rabbit and how at four, was it four that she was, she wonders? Anyway, at four on the lawn out back she saw a rabbit and said, “Look, a rabbit. In my whole life, I never saw a rabbit.”

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