Now Playing: George's Christmas Story - Part III (Conclusion)
Topic: Da Lore
“Dis way!” Belinda called out across the Great Divide. “Come on, Hunny! Dis Way!”
The other Bridge Bunnies bolted to join her, all eyes peering hard into the misty centre of the Rainbow Bridge where the clouds gathered, so thin, yet so impenetrable, that separated worlds.
“Dis way!” They murmured amongst themselves, softly at first, and then louder. “Come dis way!”
“Come on, Hunny!” Cried Belinda, shifting her feet impatiently and waggling her ears. “Run dis way! I knows you sees me, you daft owd bugger! Now run dis way! Dat cloud behind you can’t ged ober Da Bridge!”
And Hunny, the eldest and wisest bunny of Our Warren, on the other side of the Great Divide, lifted up his heavy loppy ears and ran as he hadn’t run in recent memory.
Behind him rolled the great cloud, black as ink and menacing as a thunderhead. Inside it was contained five years of misery, particularly the memory of an August day before he’d come to Our Warren. Hunny remembered the heat of the sun bearing down on him that day, the fear, and the sadness of being OnAlone, a rabbit unloved and unwanted, in a cage with a sign on the front that said: “FOR SALE – RABBIT & CAGE - $25.00”
Inside of the cage there was no shade. There was no food. There was no water. And there was no Hope.
He was in that last stage of awful life for An Unwanted Easter Bunny, OnAlone: beloved by nobun and with nobunny there for him to love. His heart, like that of so many unwanted bunnies, was about to break - and there was none to care.
So the sun beat down on Hunny as he lay there amongst the other cast-offs of a sad, barren household, while all around him, the people came and went. And no one stopped, and no one looked, and no one noticed as they went about picking through the pieces of other peoples’ lives being sold at cut-rate prices, that a small life among them was about to give up on living in their egocentric world.
Now the memory of all that human uncaring and disinterested cruelty reared up behind Hunny, a vast cloud filled with the heartbreak of millions of other lost and abandoned Easter bunnies – and Hunny ran, leading other bunnies – bunnies who had also made the decision to leave the World Below to begin the mysterious journey to The Rainbow Bridge.
But Hunny had not made his final decision to leave on that hot August day that was pursuing him now – he had made his decision eight years later under entirely different circumstances. Because Maman had rescued him from the hot August sun, from the cage where the sign said “FOR SALE – RABBIT & CAGE - $25.00 – REDUCED…” to “$15.00… then “$10.00”… and finally, “$5.00.” And Maman had thrown the green paper “munny” at man who had left Hunny in that cage OnAlone, and had grabbed up Hunny and rushed him to safety at Our Warren.
So Hunny had lived eight years at Our Warren and he was happy there, first with his ideal bondmate, Maggie, and later, with Poet. He had gone to a place named “St. Luke's,” riding in his basket decorated with a big blue bow and silver streamers. He had taken part in Maman and Dadda’s wedding and gotten to sit on their wedding rings during the ceremony. He had watched Phil-the-Lad go off to the Navy and return all grown up in a handsome blue uniform.
And Hunny had been there to greet all the new bunnies who had arrived at Our Warren, like Belinda, and a little bunny who settled on the name of "George" (because he didn't have any other name). And Hunny stayed at Our Warren to grow old – older than most bunnies ever do.
But finally, the lure of The Rainbow Bridge became stronger, and it was time for me, Hunny to follow where so many of his Warren-mates had gone before. He was an old rabbit, An Honoured Elder Of His Tribe (as a very wise hoomin called him), and he knew it was time for him to leave Maman and Dadda behind and begin his journey to The Meadow. Hunny wasn’t sure what he would find there, but he had seen The Rainbow Bridge in Old Rabbit Dreams, and knew it was, above all, a safe place to be.
So with grace and dignity, he took his leave of Maman and Dadda and good Doctor Sharin. He had wished that they wouldn’t have cried as they did, but there was nothing he could do to change them. They would learn – eventually – as hoomins always learned – so slowly for a “smart” species. They would learn when they met up with him - and Maggie and Poet, and Hawthorn and Belinda and all of the other Bridge Bunnies who were waiting for them in The Meadow - when they, too, crossed The Rainbow Bridge. So Hunny left Maman and Dadda behind very quietly, very gently.
And just as he crossed over, he suddenly found other bunnies who had also left that day, and the great, black cloud of memory that was rushing down upon them all.
“Dis way!” He shouted to all the bunnies gathered with him and instinctively bounded off towards the spark he glimpsed in the distance.
“Dis way, bunnies!”
His back legs, which lately hadn’t responded to a thing his brain had told them, now suddenly worked perfectly, gathering under him and pushing, sending him flying as he hadn’t flown in years. The faint glow of the Rainbow Bridge was growing brighter. He lifted his large, heavy head and shouted over his shoulder to the crowd of bunnies following after him:
“Dis way, bunnies! Dis way!”
And the bunnies, some old, many young, heard his voice and followed behind in a great, fleeting group.
Out of the corners of his eyes, Hunny caught the sight of other shapes, fleeing as he was. It was only a glimpse, but he was certain he was seeing dwaggies and kitties and other animal shapes, all running free, all in the same direction towards lights that glittered, somehow, almost as brightly as the one for which he instinctively steered.
The black cloud of memory began to fall away behind them as the light before them grew.
“Dis way!” Called Hunny, encouraging all those who were running with him. “Dis way, bunnies!”
Now they were at the Bridge, passing under the great arch that suspended the glittering span across the Great Divide.
“Dis Way!” Shouted Belinda from her end.
Paws thundered and ears streamed in the wind. The roiling black cloud of memory reared up before the bridge, growing great like a wave against the shore, and then crashed into foam, defeated, to flow back into the World Below.
The bunnies crowded over the Rainbow Bridge and piled to a disorganised halt. They looked around in wonder.
A new world.
And then –
“Hokay, ebberybunny, wookit ober heer…”
And there she was, an English Spot bunny with her ears pricked forward and her dark eyes bright, sitting up, paws patting, and her wiggling nose nuzzling each bunny within reach.
“I am Belinda Bunny, and dis issa Rainbow Bridge. Now come on ober to dat liddle houz an’ do whut da sign says - hab sum hay, habba nap - cos we gots sum to share.”
And over the crowd of bunnies Belinda winked at Hunny.
And that’s how it is at The End of the Rainbow Bridge, where the World Below touches the World to Come. There’s an English Spot bunny who waits in a little apple twig house beside The Rock at The End of The Rainbow Bridge, and she has maps of The Meadow that show where all the best look-out points are located, and where all the best clover patches are to be found. And she also has managed to gather together a selection of maps for other animals, so that she has a whole rack of “Maps 4 Dawgs” and “Maps 4 Catz,” so that no newcomer ever feels insecure or overcome upon arrival at The Meadow.
As this English Spot Bunny says, "Alla Us Togedder make a warren, and heer at dis Great Warren, dere is nebber NoBunny OnAlone!"
And this English Spot Bunny (whose name is Belinda Bunny) has very acute hearing, as does her placid, little blue-eyed, white Holland Lop companion (whose name is Hawthorn), and whenever either bunny detects the sound of bunny feet running in the distance from the memory of the past, they dash out of the little apple twig house, down the white pebble path and around The Rock, to The End of the Bridge. And they shout into the thin mists that separate the worlds,
“Dis way, bunnies! Come dis way!”
And when the new arrival speeds over the Bridge, and the painful parts of the past dissolve like foam and are forever left behind, Belinda Bunny gently nudges the newcomer with her anvil-shaped head, shoving him or her firmly up the white pathway where hangs the sign, “Hab sum hay – and habba nap. We gots sum to share. Alla Us Togedder - NoBunny OnAlone!”
-------- By George