A Tale of Two Rabbits

“The sight of this cuddly creature committing such a lewd act shook me to my core, like I was watching Mickey Mouse get a lap dance.” The true story of two beloved, yet very different, rabbits…

by: Miranda Steinway


When I was six years old, my Mom surprised me with the best gift she could’ve given me — a bunny. She opened the trunk of our van and there he was, no bigger than a Beanie Baby, suckling on his water bottle. He had silky, jet-black fur and ears that stuck up stick-straight. I proudly named him Charlotte, after my favorite character from Charlotte’s Web. I adjusted his name to Charlie a week later, upon coming to the startling realization that he was a boy.

We never had traditional pets in our household, so Charlie was a welcome addition. We had birds of all kinds that sat in wire-framed cages in our dining room, squawking and shitting their signature white gunk mere feet away from our plates of spaghetti. We had several fish whose short lifespans turned out to be a harsh lesson on mortality, one of which had a tumor under his eye that grew so large he could only swim sideways. We even took care of two wild turtles one summer, feeding them strawberries and allowing them to live in our plastic kiddie pool until they promptly disappeared. But it’s tough to bond with a bird, or a fish, or a turtle. A rabbit, on the other hand, is at least capable of a good snuggle.

In an effort to give Charlie the best life possible, we cleared out half of the garage so he could roam around freely outside of his cage. We scooted our plastic bins of sports equipment and piles of gardening tools into the corners so that the center of the room was all his. I lay on the icy-cold cement floor petting him for hours until my arms went numb. I spoke to him like a friend and serenaded him with songs from the musical Annie as his ears desperately retreated to the back of his head.

Once Charlie was comfortable with us, my Mom started letting him out into the yard to run around. He’d munch on clovers and dandelions and hop in cheerful circles around her. They formed an unspoken bond that awakened my Mom’s most intense Jewish mothering instincts. His standard bowl of bunny kibble gradually expanded into an all-you-can-eat buffet. She lined up little bowls of rice, Cheerios, bananas, carrots, and other treats in a row for him every day, as if he was the only customer at her tiny Sizzler franchise. Food was love and she didn’t want Charlie to be deprived for one second.

Our eight-pound bunny soon became a twelve-pound rabbit. When he lay on his side, his round, drooping belly flopped out from under him. His once hard, spherical bunny poops became long drags of violent diarrhea. But he’d leap around my Mom on his daily runs outside and shoot her with a spray of urine to mark her as his territory. He adored her right back. My Mom’s go-to scent went from lavender to rabbit pee.

Charlie and my Mom’s hijinks became the talk of our neighborhood. She was on the fast track to being labeled a “crazy rabbit lady,” the stranger cousin of the “crazy cat lady.” As she allowed him to venture further and further outside of our yard, one neighbor complained that Charlie was eating his flowers. We weren’t sure whether to believe him. It didn’t seem physically possible that he would have any room to snack after five full courses at home.

One day, Charlie hopped away from our yard when my Mom wasn’t paying attention. We saw no sight of him. She shouted his name from our front stoop as if he understood it. “Charlieee! Charlieeeee!!!” The sun went down and we began to fear the worst, but my Mom kept returning to the stoop to scream his name. She refused to give up on him. To all of our surprise, he emerged miraculously out of the dark of night in response to her call. Only the thin white rim of his eyes and the subtle shine of his well-fed coat was visible, with his black fur otherwise swallowed by the matching blanket of inky sky. She rushed over to him and scooped him up into her open arms.

After he had his first taste of adventure, Charlie started a pattern of disappearing. We searched high and low for him every time he ran off. A wave of relief struck us whenever he skittered up the stairs of our front stoop or when our car headlights illuminated him nibbling on someone’s marigolds across the street, as our neighbor had rightly suspected.

Charlie did a vanishing act dozens of times and we were lucky enough to always find him — until the day our luck finally wore off. My Mom combed every inch of our neighborhood looking for our husky, little runaway. She enlisted anyone within an earshot to keep an eye out for him. People politely agreed to assuage her distress, but they had no real intention of spending one second looking for a silly rabbit. Days turned to weeks and it was clear Charlie wasn’t coming back. He was gone. My Mom mourned him as she would any loved one.

We guessed that maybe he was gobbled up by some North Carolina critter, like a hawk or an owl, or he was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. Perhaps he got hit by a car. Or, maybe, just maybe, he was peacefully living in some far-away forest eating daisies and making other rabbit friends. I liked to imagine the latter.


After enough time had passed, we got another bunny. His name was Sammy and he was a light brown sandy color with the same kind of ears as Charlie that stuck straight up. We set up a space for him in the nook of our playroom. Sammy was supposed to stay in his cage most of the time, per my Dad’s request, but my Mom and I opened the latch to allow him to roam the room when he arrived and it remained open for the duration of his stay with us. The playroom became Sammy’s room.

My Mom couldn’t muster up the strength to love another bunny the same way she loved Charlie, so it was me and Sammy who were the close ones. But even I, his number one fan, had to admit that Sammy wasn’t perfect. If he ever caught anyone sitting still on the carpet for too long, he’d mount their leg and start humping. I discovered this quirk when one of my best friends came over to meet him and he began thrusting his furry body against her shin. The sight of this cuddly creature committing such a lewd act shook me to my core, like I was watching Mickey Mouse get a lap dance. The crazed, horny look in his eyes as he went at it was a tough image to shake. Still, I found room in my heart to forgive him.

Another one of his other troubling habits was chewing on the most expensive and hazardous items in the playroom. He delighted in gnawing on the crown molding, but, if he could get his paws on it, his favorite delicacy was electrical cords. This pushed my Dad toward the edge of his patience. My Dad wasn’t fond of having animals in the house from the get-go and, in his opinion, rodents belonged outside. Charlie and the diarrhea stains he left in the garage were irksome, but Sammy’s destructive grazing was a step too far. My new bunny was hopping on thin ice.

Despite the plummeting household opinion of him, I knew Sammy was a sweet boy. He let me pet him for hours and he listened to me sing, just like Charlie did. He even let me dress him up in one of my doll’s frilly dresses once, though he did quickly wiggle his way out of it.

It wasn’t long until my Dad caught Sammy in the act of chowing down on a delicious, thick computer cord and he had enough. We had to get rid of him. This time, my heart was broken. Yes, he had a voracious appetite for fire hazards and, yes, he had already inflicted significant damage to the house, but we all make mistakes!

We found a local woman who was willing to take Sammy in. She already had a 200-pound hog and several other rabbits in her backyard — an odd collection of animals for someone living in a suburban area. Her otherwise normal-looking house smelled like a farm. I handed her over my darling rabbit with tears in my eyes. I reminded myself that, if he lived with her, he’d get to be outside all day. I told myself that he was going to be happier there. I couldn’t deny that, in her care, he was much less likely to accidentally fry himself to death on his favorite forbidden treat.

I thought about Sammy for months afterward, particularly when I was falling asleep. I tossed and turned worrying about whether or not he fit in with the other rabbits, hoping they accepted him as one of their own. I drowsily debated whether he and the hog had formed some kind of offbeat camaraderie or if they were mostly indifferent to each other. I wearily wondered who or what he’d tried to hump, anxious that he’d gone for the woman’s ankle or, even worse, given it a go with the hog.

My Dad begrudgingly sanded down the crown molding and wrapped electrical tape around the compromised cords. We sprayed down the carpets and ran a wet vac over Sammy’s messes. We donated his spotless cage. But there were a few stubborn bite marks that remained in our home, carrying on his lineage for decades to come.


Miranda Steinway is a writer based in California. Her writing has appeared in Maudlin House and Expat Press. She is currently working on a novel. Find her on mirandasteinway.com.

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