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The Meadow

by Gregory W. Ellis

The meadow was idyllic in its unspoiled grace. Sunlight danced off the green grass, knee-high on a full-grown man, and pollen yellowed the light giving the scene a misty quality. A narrow, two-lane dirt path cut across the meadow between the edge of the woods that surrounded the meadow on all sides. The buzz of insects, the chittering of birds, and the sighing of a light breeze through the trees were the only sounds that broke the quiet tranquility.

“Hey! Look there,” said Bobby Waislow as he and his brother trudged up the path and emerged from the trees into the meadow.

“What?” asked his brother Tommy, already beginning to unsling the .22 rifle he carried on his shoulder.

“Shhh,” Bobby hissed. “You’ll scare it away.”

“What?” Tommy asked his little brother again looking in the approximate direction his brother was pointing down the path.

“A bunny rabbit. Right there on the path ahead of us,” Bobby whispered excitedly.

“Bobby, it’s just a damn rabbit,” Tommy said delighting in the freedom to cuss out of the earshot of their father, not to mention the range of his mother’s backhand.

“But it’s so cute...”

“It’ll look better with one of its feet hanging from my keychain.”

“No! You can’t shoot it!”

“Why the hell not?”

“Just look at it! It’s doing something weird.”

Tommy looked and had to admit his little brother was right. The rabbit was acting a little weird. It was staying strictly to the dirt area of the path the two boys were walking along, not acting in the skittish manner that rabbits did at all. The rabbit was facing the two boys and had obviously seen and heard them, but instead of running into the tall grass it simply cringed and sat frozen on the dirt path as far away from the grass as it could possibly get.

“What’s it doing?” Bobby asked. “Why’s it acting so scared and not running away?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s sick or something.”

Both boys had stopped about thirty feet out into the meadow along the two-lane path. Tommy took another couple steps forward and brought his rifle up. Suddenly, no longer able to contain its instincts, the rabbit bolted into the grass, lunging for cover away from the boys.

Tommy and Bobby watched as the rabbit raced through the grass, leaping and dodging, traced by its zigzag path. Without warning and as if struck by a snake, the rabbit halted in mid-leap and hung suspended in mid-air for a moment before crashing to the ground.

The rabbit thrashed in the grass in obvious panic. It rolled, squealing in a high-pitched version of a scream of agony and fear. Long strands of grass stretched and reached out to the animal, wrapping around it as it struggled. Near the end all that was left was a somewhat ball-shaped green lump that struggled weakly.

Then, as Tommy and Bobby stood watching in shock and dismay, the grassy ball exploded in red, gray, and brown gore. A red-colored mist burst from the grass, spraying the surrounding area. The mist hovered, suspended in the air for a few moments before drifting downwind on the breeze. Where the rabbit had struggled just a few moments before, there was only a greasy stain and the grassy ball.

The grass ball collapsed in on itself until only the grass remained, wet and stained with rabbit blood, rapidly drying in the warm sunlight. Slowly, the grass untangled itself from the ball and once again stood tall, swaying and sighing in the light breeze.

“Tommy, the grass ate the bunny rabbit,” Bobby whispered, his voice quavering. Tears were already beginning to run down his ten-year old face.

Tommy was speechless. His mind raced as he thought of the long walk home and the tall expanses of grass and grains that lined the path through the fields. They would have to walk through a lot of grass to reach home.

The grass ate the bunny. The grass ate the goddamned bunny. How could the grass eat the bunny? Grass don’t have teeth! Tommy’s mind chattered at him.

Tommy looked down at his little brother standing beside him. Bobby looked up at him with trusting eyes. His lock of blond hair was blowing in the breeze. It always seemed to be in complete disarray. Bobby was crying and scared and Tommy felt like he was about to piss himself, he was so scared. He looked up from Bobby and looked around at the meadow. He gripped the stock of his rifle so hard he thought the wood might splinter in his hands. His whole body was wet with sweat.

Was the grass leaning towards them from both sides of the path? Was the grass all over the meadow leaning just a little bit in their direction? he thought, scanning the grassy field around them.

Tommy looked back along their path back into the woods. The grass was leaning in towards the path despite the soft breeze that blew in the other direction.

It’s going to be a long run back home, Tommy thought as the grass sighed a soft hissing whisper all around him.

Copyright © 2007 by Gregory W. Ellis

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