It ran out across the road ahead of me. A beautiful little baby bunny, enjoying the rites of spring. The second such bunny I’d seen dart over the road in three days. Maybe it was even the same one. Note the use of the past tense.
I was doing fifty-five, the legal limit on this well-surfaced, hilly, and generally under-used country road. I hit the brakes when the rabbit darted out unexpectedly; he made it across the road. It was a close call, but he was in the other lane, home and dry if he wanted to be. I put my foot back down on the gas.
The rabbit reversed direction as I did so. The silly little sod, confused by my car, doubled back on itself. It was the last thing it would ever do. I felt a crunch of rubber on flesh as I ran it over and I gave a cry of pain as though it was me that had been hit. I don’t eat animals; I definitely don’t want to kill them.
I didn’t turn back. I didn’t want to see the damage I’d done. I just hoped it was complete. I’m too much of a coward to have finished the job off. I swore out loud as I drove home, banging repeatedly on the horn. There was no one in all that space to hear me scream.
Friends have told me they’ve run into deer. One’s even run into a bear. Animals don’t understand traffic, the speed it moves at, the damage it can do. I’m not being self-righteous or defensive. I know cars are bad for us. I know it’s their world too. I just wish they could read the signs, listen to their moms, see all the road kill and learn their life lesson. The woods might be safe for them but these roads are not. And though a rabbit can outrun a human, it’s risking its life when it tries to dodge a car.
I guess I’ve been lucky to date. Not killed an animal in my first eighteen months of living up here. But try telling that bunny rabbit about luck. It can’t hear you. I guess it never could.