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.