CH. 06 «Letting Go»

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I had to let go.

Their little beating hearts were clutched firmly to my chest, but I knew I had to let them go eventually. The sooner the better too, no use in prolonging the inevitable. I spoke to them like a mother to her infant, as they were the closest to a child I’d ever had. They were our children, and I gave them the best advice I could; cautioned them to stay out of the hot sun and away from the creatures of the night, and if they ever got in trouble just to run, run as fast as their furry little legs could carry them. I told Ginger to take care of his sister and I set them down on the path alone.

They were our babies and I let them go by myself. She was supposed to come here to see them off, she was supposed to meet me on this trail at sunset. She… had better things to do it seemed. It wasn’t even my idea to release them into the wild, she suggested it, and still she couldn’t follow through. I never wanted them in the first place, but like so many weak things I’d conceded to in the past, I’d done it to make her happy. And I had eventually grown to love them.

*Sigh*

On our breaks at work we’d gone to the pet store to hold the puppies and caress the cats, and she’d always wanted a cuddly creature of her own. I’d never found the ability to justify getting an expensive, smelly, little critter, knowing I’d have to pick up the slack and clean up after it when she was done squeezing them. I finally reasoned to get her a rabbit, they were only є30 as opposed to the kittens we saw marked at є1000. I know we could have gone to a shelter to get a cat for much cheaper, but it wouldn’t be the same to her–animals are only cute when they’re babies. She found out that I was getting her a rabbit, tricked it out of me a week before I was going to make the purchase, so I had to up the ante. I’ve always been a performer, always loved to see that shock on people’s faces, and knew as appreciative of a bunny she was, she’d have known it was coming; so I bought her two. With the help of her sister I acquired them, along with a cage and some food, and snuck them into my apartment. I wish I had done more research though, known what I was getting myself into. But there wasn’t time, Christmas was upon us after all.

I had parked my crawler at the end of her parents’ street and began to walk with them in my old back pack, a quarter of a mile along the aptly named Skyline Drive. The sun had just gone down and already the cities and suburbs in sight that stretched as far as Novus Angelicas were ablaze in their nightly passion. I crossed the street to a gravel path, the portal was luckily still open though this trail closed at nightfall. It was a nature preserve for fire sage scrub, wild squamata and snakes. In spite of the latter, I’d reasoned it a relatively safe location for the oversized rodents; there haven’t been any squoyotes here in decades, right? Just a couple of paces up the path, by a sign denoting the sanctity of the location, I set my back pack down and unzipped it, taking a rabbit in each hand and holding them to my chest.

It made sense why I had to do this: I brought them to her in the first place, I had cared for them for the past several weeks on my own, I should be the one to see them off. They were getting neglected in her new party lifestyle, the smell was too intense for friends she invited over. It had been over a month since I’d released her from the burden of caring about something. I couldn’t blame her though, they were odoriferous creatures and unaffectionate, not even very pet-like. They were a prey species after all, they didn’t come when you called, only ran for cover when you reached for them, and they never liked to be held; not too unlike her.

I didn’t mind taking care of them though, they would let me hold them, for a little while at least, and it felt good to have a soft, warm heart beat next to mine, even if they would eventually claw and bite their way free as if to say “That’s enough love for today,” then return to their incessant munching. I didn’t even mind the smell, as long as I cleaned up their waste everyday, but its what the smell brought that eventually drove them out.

The persistant odor from the rabbit enclosure had attracted other creatures into the unit. Unwelcome scaly varmints that chewed a hole in the screen of the window and began gnawing another one into the molding around the back hatch of the unit. When my roommate, Pashan, and I began to spot signs of reptilian life left on the floor and counter tops, we knew it was time for change. I informed them that night that this was their notice of eviction as I embraced each of the squirming rabbits in turn.

They were uncharacteristically comfortable with me now though, both of them in my arms at once, as if they didn’t want me to let them go. I didn’t want to either, but we have to do what’s necessary. I set them down together on the edge of the trail and watched them inspect their new, low lit surroundings. They’d never been out like this before, only a little cage in a grassy back yard had prepared them for this experience, and even then we always gave them a bowl of food and water to sustain them. They stayed very close to each other, one always running to stand beside the other if they strayed too far; I took it as a good sign that they’d stick together. They didn’t seem to want to leave though, all they desired was to be locked up in their stinky cage and fed again. But I couldn’t take them back now. It would be too cruel to them, pretending that they were welcome in my home, though they most certainly were as far as I was concerned. And I couldn’t fool myself into thinking I’d ever scrounge up the credits to surrender them to a shelter, where they may even become more neglected than they were at their last home.

All I had to do was turn around and leave them, trust that instinct would overcome their poor domestic teachings and they’d be able to survive on their own, even for a little while. As I reached for my bag, Freddy made one last attempt to get back in it, struggling to get over the side and into the comfort of a confined space. I pushed her away, picked her up and set her in the other direction, into the a break in the scrub, and did the same with Ginger who had tried to follow. I set him down and immediately stood up, zipping my bag and turning away, the longer I lingered the more it would hurt us both in the end.

I turned my heart cold and lit a Martian Spirit as I began to walk away, wishing I could just smolder into nothing like the glowing orange end in front of me. I looked back over my shoulder and could only make out the black lump of my Freddy’s coat in the bushes, her shining eyes catching a last glint of light from the city far below, and then she was gone from sight. On the long walk back to the crawler I kept looking over my shoulder at every rustle the wind blew through the leaves, every snap or every scrape of gravel beneath my feet, wondering if they had followed me down the trail. I was glad they didn’t, comforted to think they’d never make their way down to the road. Better to be further away from any dangers. I hoped they would enjoy their new home. When I finally got to my crawler I lit another cigi and began the slowly burning, lonely journey back down the hill and home.

The first thing I did when I got there was take their wooden, urine soaked cage with all their dishes and bottles, and carried them to a large dumpster beside my row of units. Punctuating the evening I forced it up over the lip into the unknown. I returned inside, swept the remnants of feces and bedding out the hatch and washed my hands.
Letting go is easier when there’s nothing left to remind you of what you had.

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PREV: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

PREV: CH. 05 A Martian Rite of Passage – My First Tattoo

NEXT: CH. 07 «Never Terraformed»

NEXT: CH. 07 «Never Terraformed»

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