by E.J. Shumak
I wake slowly. I can neither see nor speak, but I hear – I hear clearly. A young boy’s voice is speaking Chinese. He tells horrific stories of a dreadful life. He says he works eighteen hours a day and never sees the sun. He says he has not seen anyone in his family for two years. He is nine years old. I do not believe him.
The boy speaks Mandarin, yet I understand, “You will have a horrible life. You will pray you were never born and there will be no hope and no one to save you. You are and will be alone always, even among others. No one cares for you – no one ever will.”
I feel an intense stabbing pain in my head, like needles, but then I can see. I have eyes! I am in a huge building. It is very cold. A child, dressed in rags, holds me and stitches along my left side with some kind of needle – it hurts. I feel my body tighten.
He sets me down, admiring his handiwork. “This is all I care about now. Even though I am the only one who knows it, I stitch the best Rabbits here, and they all leave with a small part of me inside of them.”
I look at him and say, “I believe you.”
He spins around, as if searching for the source. “But you are wrong. I will have a good life. I will go to Japan and a little girl will love and cuddle me and I shall attend hundreds of tea parties with many friends, I will….”
I find myself jerked through the air, seemingly flying, the little boy throwing me into a huge bin, a terrified visage overtaking his appearance. I land in a huge, open topped metal crate with bars, a cage. I am not alone. Literally hundreds of my apparent brothers and sisters are there with me. It seems none of us can move. I am remarkably weak. No one talks to me. I try for a while, in Mandarin, ., and English. None of my kind responds.
A taller man circles the cage or crate. He is in a stiff green uniform. He turns to the boy, “You are fluffing about with the political-officer inspecting? Have you no respect, you ungrateful animal? We feed you, clothe you and shelter you. We saved you from your evil Shinto mother and this is how you repay us?” The starched man backhands the little boy – hard. Blood is everywhere as the boy’s head strikes the worktable behind him. Did I cause this? I suspect it is safer if I am quiet. I am very frightened by these men. I sleep. I do not dream.
I feel my left leg pulled so hard it nearly disengages from my body. I can feel the stitches stretch and my leg feels different. I am no longer in my cage/crate, but flung through the air; this time landing in a hot cardboard box on some kind of dock. Quickly it becomes dark and I cannot see. I only feel my kind all around me. No one speaks and no one will answer me. I was cold for so long and now I am hot. I go mute and try to sleep.
As the hours pass, it gets cooler, then comfortable, and finally bitterly cold. I feel my container constantly moving, sometimes a gentle and comforting rocking and at other times a violent jerking. Suddenly everything stops and it is quiet and warm. There is no more movement. Still none of my kind will talk with me. Again I try to sleep.
I am awakened by a blinding light while I am unceremoniously pulled from my place in the box. Many people are speaking. At first I do not understand. It is neither Mandarin nor Nihon. Then I begin to comprehend, it is American English. I am in America! I will find a little girl to take care of me. I will be safe now.
I am in some kind of selling place. There are many red and green decorations and I see that I am on “ROLLBACK”. I am again in a cage-like-crate with about thirty of my kind. I am the only light pink bunny. There are many white, red, yellow blue and dark pink bunnies – but I am the only faded pink bunny. I hope I am not defective. I hope someone can still love me and care for me. I am frightened and excited at the same time. My future seems so promising, yet simultaneously so unsure. The lights dim to a soft glow and there is no sound. I try to speak with those in my crate/cage. No one will answer me.
I wake to bright lights and loud noises. It is an hour or so later this, someone called it a store, is very busy and full of people. I see many little girls, some come to my crate/cage, but no one pulls me out. My crate/cage is only half full when the lights go down. I sleep.
The lights come up. Just as people start coming, I see a woman intently looking at all of us in the crate/cage. “No pink ones left?”
Another person in a weird blue vest says, “That one is pink.”
“Yeah, I guess so. Not a real pink. Go ahead and pull it out.”
I am lifted out by my left leg and put in another crate/cage, but this one has wheels and moves easily. The woman pushes it away from my previous confinement. I am alone. I do not know what my fate will be. I am in the dark, I feel motion. I am stuffed in another box—this one is a very tight fit. I am tumbled about and then nothing. Dark, quiet, but warm.
The time is passing slowly. I hear conversation often, but it is muffled. I think I hear a little girl, but I am not sure. I hear a lot of loud voices, definitely not a little girl’s though. I smell things, a strong odor of vegetation — maybe a tree. Then more smells, some sweet and – frighteningly – some of burning. But it is also a bit like the smell of animals. I shudder to think what that is. My life is as the boy said. I have nothing. I see nothing. I hear little. I do nothing. I do not understand my purpose. For the first time in my short life, I cry. Nothing is changing –but what do I know of time?
I hear loud, obnoxious music, but it is music and as such, so much better than silence. I hear little girl squeals – could I be saved? I remember to stay quiet. I will do nothing to ruin this chance.
Suddenly I am tumbled about and I hear ripping noises. Abruptly I am blinded by many bright lights. All colors. Then there she is. To my eyes, the most lovely little girl ever, and I sense immediately that she is kinder than anyone else. I am the luckiest Bunny Rabbit in the world. One small tear of joy escapes my right eye before I remember to keep myself still and quiet.
“Oh, Daddy, it’s wonderful, just what I asked for. It is so pretty and the perfect color, just what I wanted. You are the best daddy ever.” She throws me to the floor and runs to hug her father. He sits quietly as the woman (perhaps her mother) stares between the little girl and the father. The father looks uncaring and the mother looks disgusted. I don’t fully understand why I know this – but I do.
“Yes Jayne – it is all yours. I am so happy you like it,” responds the father.
Jayne runs past her mother, ignoring her and dragging me through the room, down the hall into a large bedroom at the end. My head bounces against the hardwood flooring – beautiful, polished parquet, but difficult to endure nonetheless. I feel all my stuffing forced towards my upper chest and head. My seams are pulled taught and my chest aches. It makes me light headed and I cannot think clearly. I am too excited and happy to truly mind. I have a home and a little girl to care for me!
The door slams behind us. I am in heaven. There are many friends to have tea and a beautiful table with tiny cups. I have proven the little Chinese boy wrong and I live in paradise. None of my tea-mates speak with me and I have become nearly mute, not ever using my voice. But life is otherwise wonderful. It is amazing, beautiful and perfect. Jayne even knows my name – she has always called me Bunny Rabbit. I am still too frightened to speak to her. I need to be safe and if being quiet makes me safe, so be it.
It is late and I notice the parents’ noises are louder and louder. Yelling and crashing noises wake me. Jayne seems immune, or partially deaf. She sleeps. Then in the morning I find myself napping comfortably on the bed after Jayne has gone to school. Her bedroom door opens. It is the mother, Ramona.
“Look at this frickin’ mess. The brat never cleans up. Here’s the damn rabbit that I searched for and hubby got credit for.”
I am grabbed. By the left leg, why always the left leg? She throws me against the door and holds me up by my ears. My ears are tearing loose and my hearing is suffering. It hurts. I will endure anything to stay with Jayne.
“Okay, Mister Bunny. We will discuss this.” She punches me hard in the gut. I am nearly unconscious. My ears feel like they are going to rip out and my guts ache from the impact. My stuffing is forced both towards my head and my legs. I am light headed, my legs ache and my stitching is ever looser. It makes me very weak. Then it comes, over and over again.
“Mister Rabbit, you want to screw around with your whores? You want to steal my savings? Hey, Mister Bunny, how do you like your new car, I don’t mind driving the old crap box, is your dinner cold? Are you done slapping me around?”
Each question punctuated by a violent punch to my gut with my ears pulled tightly. I never knew what pain was. I never understood what hell, life could be. What did I do? Should I tell Jayne? I am so scared and I hurt so badly. Please make it stop, can’t anyone help me?
Out of breath, Ramona looks me in the eye and says “I hate you,” she throws me to the floor and I cry, not caring if she hears or not. The door slamming behind her as she leaves Jayne’s room, it sounds muffled. Is my hearing going? Will I be deaf too?
I must accept this is now my life. Happy evenings and weekends, while my daylight hours are full of pain and fear. Ramona beating me in the day for everything the husband does, and tea time with Jayne. Without Jayne I could not go on. I would release my stitching and become a pile of stuffing and cloth.
Jayne is running late, playing too long with me and the bear before school. She runs off, heading for the bus. Ramona comes in immediately. “So you little bastards kept my daughter late. We’ll talk about that now.” My ears stretched, I begin a new, even more violent beating. I wonder if my hearing will recover after this latest stretching and pounding.
Jayne runs back in, “I forgot my… What are you doing to Bunny Rabbit?’
“Jayne, Jayne, I am so sorry, I just have to release this pain,” Ramona starts running out the door.
“Wait Mommy. It’s OK. I love you. I understand. Can I try it?”
I nearly pass out. I thought I was saved. I thought it might end. Now…
Jayne grabs me by the ears, beats me over and over again. The pain multiplied many times from previous beatings. I don’t know if I feel more from the breaking of my spirit and the termination of my dreams and beliefs or from the stretching and tearing of my plush body. I lose consciousness.
In a small but attractive living room on Pleasant Street in Oak Park, Illinois, a pristine white couch dominates the living room. Directly across the space, a large flat screen TV displays WATERSHIP DOWN. There are two pinkish cloth strips lying softly against the back of the cushion and a fluffy pink arm reaches across the edge toward the table and holds — no caresses, a can of V8.
Ramona calls out to Jayne, “Daddy says he’ll be late,” and in softer timbre, “very late probably.” Ramona walks down the hallway. “Why the hell is the TV on? What the hell, he doesn’t drink V8.”
The figure on the couch turns slightly, muting the TV. For the second time in his young life, Bunny Rabbit speaks freely, “True, but I do. I would also appreciate a bit of that carrot cake.”
Jayne comes running in, “Is Daddy home?”
“No, Jayne, Mommy is just getting me desert. Then I need both of you in here. We have much to discuss.”
Food for Thought
Let us look first at the concept of evil. Simone Weil in her 1947 book, Gravity and Grace, stated, “We experience good only by doing it. We experience evil only by refusing to allow ourselves to do it,…” If we combine that concept with the transference of evil, also from Weil, “A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves. That is why we are inclined to commit such acts as a way of deliverance…”, we have the concept of the transference of evil between human beings and the idea that the evil came forth from a desire and effort to avoid unpleasantness.
Weil felt that the suffering, of even a single child in a factory environment was unquestionably evil, she quoted the author Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky , “Even though this immense factory were to produce the most extraordinary marvels and were to cost only a single tear from a single child, I refuse.” Weil asserted her full agreement with Dostoyevsky, yet she tempered this distaste for suffering with, “…We must accept the evil done to us as a remedy for that which we have done… Patience consists in not transforming suffering into crime…” She also discussed the possibility of transferring evil outside of the individual, “To transfer evil to what is exterior is to distort the relationship between things.”
Sir James George Frazer in his 1922 work, The Golden Bough, expressed the theory of transference of evil to inanimate objects as an obviously valid concept, “At the outset it is to be observed that the evil of which a man seeks to rid himself need not be transferred to a person; it may equally well be transferred to an animal or a thing…” and provides pages of examples.
Considering these concepts, do you think that the suffering the Chinese boy endured could have been transferred into the stuffed animals he created?
Could that be what he meant when he stated, “This is all I care about now. Even though I am the only one who knows it, I stitch the best Rabbits here, and they all leave with a small part of me inside of them.”?
Is it possible that suffering was powerful enough to give Bunny Rabbit the ability to feel and see?
If that were true, would the additional abuse and despair that Bunny Rabbit endured elevate the phenomenon to the level of more fully animating this creature?
Do we fully understand what our inner being is, what our minds are capable of and what we may be able to do with that internal power under intense stresses? On an anecdotal level, have we not gained inhuman strength with the need to pull a beloved child from under a bus and similar seemingly impossible physical tasks? Is our mind truly incapable of such feats of increased power? Is our mind truly weaker than our physical self?
©2016 E.J. Shumak — Published electronically at DigitalFictionPub.com: February 9, 2016. You may link to or share this post with full and proper attribution; however, the author retains the complete and unrestricted copyright to this work. Commercial use or distribution of any kind is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.
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