Bounce Back

Written with my Thursday night writing group with the prompts:  traveling with her, he called her angel, nobody cares until it’s too late, out, out, damn spot, what is your diagnosis, I know just the thing, hurt angry, outstanding, that depends Gary said, why are you hiding, crazies change laws, farmland and the sky, a fence to protect the garden

When she lived in midtown, an unhoused man used to come to Teri’s door.  “Can you help me out, Angel?” he’d say.  He was lanky and gray—his skin, his hair, the stubble on his chin and jaw.  “Can I wash your car or trim your roses?”  Teri always gave him a broom and asked him to sweep the front and back porches, and then she’d give him some cookies and a five dollar bill.  “Thank you, Angel,” he’d say.  She’d close the door, feeling satisfied.  “He recognized me,” she’d think.

Now living out in the country with Gary, no one ever came unannounced to their door.  Sequestered on a tiny plot of land with a few chickens and a box of bees, out amid the pear orchards and the asparagus fields, the farmland, and a wide cloudless sky, Teri felt anonymous, ad yet exposed.  She repeatedly asked Gary to build a fence to protect her herb garden, but he kept putting her off.  “No fence is going to keep out the rabbits and rodents,” he’d say.  “They’ll just burrow under.”  He made a joke out of it, ever since they saw the mottled gray bunny chin-deep in her rainbow chard.  “Out damn spot,” he yelled, but Teri just rolled her eyes.  

“You don’t take me seriously,” she told him. 

“That depends,” he countered, leaning in for a kiss.  She dodged him and went out for a drive.

Traveling with her after midnight were the ghosts of an independent life she enjoyed in her urban bungalow.  The feral cats she used to feed in her back yard, the unhoused folks she brought water bottles and Clif bars to, guitarists busking at the Farmers’ Market.  There were crazies in the high rises, lawyers and lobbyists in the wine bars, there were alpha males making her doubt her own capacity to protect herself.  “I know just the thing,” Gary suggested one night, and she’d been so tired and so lonely, that she said yes.  Now she was hurt, angry, outstanding in her confusion.

The gray mottled rabbit suddenly appeared in her car, crawling out from the back seat to perch beside the gear shift.  Teri was unsurprised.  “Why are you hiding in here?” she asked. 

“Nobody cares until it’s too late,” the rabbit said.

She nodded solemnly, her eyes still on the road.  “So what’s your diagnosis?”

“Experiment fail,” the rabbit pronounced.  “But you’ll bounce back.  You always do.”

He was morphing into the lanky gray unhoused man.  “And you?” she asked,  “Will you bounce back?”

“Oh, Angel,” he said, “I’m already gone.” 

Photo by Jane Slack Smith on Unsplash

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