A Summer’s Tale

Square-Jawed George adored Genevieve above all the other rabbits in the warren. Splendidly, Genevieve admired George’s muscular haunches and his strong, decisive chin. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve would often lie among the primroses under the old willow tree and read poetry to each other, or go strolling ardently by the river. Sometimes they would skip and scamper through the meadow, laughing and laughing as if they were the first bunnies ever to have loved.

But this wasn’t enough love even for two so star-crossed as they, even for two who had his moon rising in her Sagittarius. Their love grew and grew until pretty soon it was nauseating the whole warren. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve would walk the wooded meadow as lovers do, lost in each other’s eyes, occasionally knocking over toadstool dwellings but oblivious to everything and everyone except their love. As they passed by, in their wake they left dozens of innocent rabbits doubled-up, heaving and retching out their half-nibbled stomach contents in the pleasant meadow flowers. The ladybirds who lived in the toadstools were furious too at having lost yet another housing development cul-de-sac to the lovers. The whole meadow smelled of regurgitated dandelion-stems, and toadstool prices in the area had plummeted. The strain on the community was beginning to show.

The rabbits and ladybirds took their complaints to the warren-council where dark words were muttered and mid-toned discussions screamed, but there seemed to be nothing in the law books which forbade the public exchange of tender lovelinesses between consenting rabbits. It seemed the law’s paws were tied. Maybe it’ll stop when Spring is over, they hoped.

Spring turned to Summer. One Wednesday in July, a hot, stifling day which left even the most equable rabbits grumpy and irritable, the meadow was smelling particularly rank. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve had been even more vomitsome lately. Sweaty bunnies lay here and there in the scorched and scratchy grass, fanning themselves with blighted dock leaves and bickering. Malnutrition from all the vomiting had taken its toll on some of the bunnies. Everywhere ears drooped, teeth rotted and ribs showed painfully through their dull coats. Only Square-Jawed George and Genevieve were still bright of eye and perky of bob-tail. And here they came.

“What shall I compare thee to today, my sweet doe?” trilled Square-jawed George buckfully. A summer day’s sooo been done.” But, because his chin was so very decisive, the word came to him almost immediately. “An evening! A summer’s evening!” And Genevieve loved him even more for his easy command of words.

“Oh Christ, here they come again!” said one rabbit and the word spread throughout the meadow. “Quick – paws in ears, eyes shut and lalalalalas!

But the mood was different in the meadow today. The rabbits didn’t put their paws in their ears or shut their eyes or do lalalalas. Instead, it was very, very quiet, each rabbit straining to hear what the lovers were saying as they passed, as if masochism were the new arugula. Here and there a bunny eye glinted. Square-Jawed George and Genevieve lolloped on, not seeing or hearing anything but themselves.

And something snapped. it was impossible to say who started it, only that an electrifying twitch-nerve surged through the watching rabbits like a sort of murderous Mexican wave and all 700 rabbits sprang forward in a fury, launching themselves at the lovers with their teeth bared.

Long after the fluff had settled, and the blood trickled away into the soil, long after the crows had done for the remains of the tragic pair, I, an old, old owl, who had seem it all come to pass from my high forest perch by the meadow would gather my grandowlets around me and tell them the tale of Square-Jawed George and Genevieve.

“Why did they have to die?” they would sob, doing little owl droppings of despair all over my nice rug.

And I would shake my wise old head, as I handed them buckets of water and disinfectant to clean up.

“They were too beautiful for this world.” I would whisper, my eyes shining with brine. And I would turn away from my darlings then, and all the old guilt would come flooding back. The guilt about how good the lovers’ little hearts had tasted as, unseen, I plucked them from their breasts before the crows came for their broken bodies.


25 thoughts on “A Summer’s Tale”

  1. Yes, an owl would never pass up a treat like that, good ending Sam.

    And “law’s paws”! Heh! You can’t beat rhymes involving the word “law”. It reminds me of “that’s just a little bit more than the law will allow.”

  2. As a member of the, U.R.D.M.A.C (Unrepentant, Romanticly Drole Males of America Club sometimes refered to as You Are Da Mac Daddy! I plan on carrying my Uzi when I next go for a meander through the wild flowers with my heart’s desire. Any rabid rabbits or otherwise plan on stomping on my parade best think twice. Love will overcome! Sing with me brothers and sisters! Raise the Uzi on high against the blistering sun and sing- Love will overcome someday…

  3. Public Displays of Affection will always get you into trouble.

    That and trying to remove a planter’s wart with only a can of Lysol spray and Swiss Army Knife.

    I know crap like this.

    Good story though. A beginning, middle, end and moral to boot. I hope you’re telling this to the Problem Twins, for what it’s worth.


  4. Odd really, but seeing an old couple out walking, where one reaches to the other with a fleeting touch has more romance than a young pair attempting to wear the face off each other.

    And why do I think motorcar when I see the name Genevieve.
    And how the heck do I google it when it could be little more than a free synapse flapping about like a firehose.

  5. Genevieve was that film with Kenneth More about the London to Brighton race???

    I think George and Genevieve were the two rabbits I saw on the Stirling University campus on the day of the triathlon … they came out on to the path where I was walking, took one look and dived back into the hedge! Doesn’t sound funny as I write it now but their comic timing was perfect!

  6. I had to look arugula up.
    You see I think the owl was perfectly justified in mopping up offal JUST so long as he/ she/ you had nothing to do with stirring up the murderous rabbits.
    Could I just say that Genvieve- unlike the film, is pronounced JON VEE EV.

  7. Jer, uzis and love – it’s a brave new world you’re forging out there in Mass.

    Sugar Britches, I’ve always liked that bit in Alice In Wonderland when she’s enormous and cries so much her tears make a river she floats off down herself when she shrinks. I don’t know why but I’ve always thought that was pretty cool.

    Medbh, and once they get a taste for blood…

    Nanas, or Murkin!

    Jo, Toto doesn’t live there anymore…

    Rand, you will never be banned, hun. Did you really do that to your wart? I certainly hope you didn’t do it to someone else’s wart!

    Vince, Belleek has your answer. And you’re right. An old couple walking along holding hands is beautiful. ‘Course, you know she’s probably his secretary, right? And his real wife is home worrying about his heart medication or something.

    Belleek, bunnies are comic geniuses. I watch them eating our lawn every morning and evening – funniest is when they nibbled a flower shorter and shorter up the stalk ’til they look like they’ve got a flower on their nose, just for an instant before it falls to the ground. I feel I ought to be paying them money for the entertainment.

    Maroon, I think of all the people who’ve said i’m awful, I like it when you say it the most. Only I’m not awful. I’m heinous.

  8. Eryl, I wish you could get sinister twists with drinks. The cocktail hour could be so much more interesting.

    Daffers darling, the buck bunnies in Iran would be so inflamed by the mere suggestion of a doe’s naked whisker that they couldn’t be held responsible for their actions. Square-Jawed George would be saved, but poor, wicked and lustful Genevieve would probably be stoned to death within an hour of shedding her hijab.

    fmc, if it helps, it wasn’t very good poetry.

    Caro, that’s one of the 843 ways the owl tried to justify it to himself.

    Lucy, in the posh old days the Brits used to eat devilled kidneys at breakfast sometimes. I always thought there was something terribly wrong with that. I guess it was an Empire thing. You never hear of it nowadays.

    Conan, ha! They accounted for the deaths by saying it was a hop-and-run. Nobody saw nuffink. But life was never the same for those who were there that day. It changed them.

    English Mum, ta! It’s not as good as a Jaffa Cake with a cup of tea – doesn’t have the smashing orangey bit. I suspect if you’d had Jaffa Cakes in you’d never have settled for this bilge.

    Pat, they call rocket arugula here. And they call tomatoes tomaytoes, the great sillies. Owl’s shame though was for how delicious he found the hearts – and how he can’t help craving more…

  9. You are just marvelous, honestly. This cracked me up from start to finish. I’m pretty mild-tempered, but I wanted to stomp on those bunnies myself.

    And I never knew that arugula and rocket were the same thing! Personally, I think Americans have got the cooler term here — ‘arugula’ sounds more foreign than ‘rocket’ — like zucchini. ‘Aubergine’ beats ‘eggplant’ hand over fist, though, so you’re okay there.

    And no thanks to Mr Bananas for putting the Dukes of Hazard in my head. I’d managed to forget that one until a few minutes ago…

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