MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
Upset Parrot by Maurice Schulman

Fiction


The Edge of Night

Ann McDermott

It is said there was once a time when Night, one of the two primary creators, stole up upon young Cottontail, crouched beneath a bursage and shivering with fear. She noticed the rabbit’s right ear was torn at the tip and flopped over.

“Rest now, little one,” she breathed soothingly. “I will cover you in darkness and hide you from your enemies.”

Cottontail snuggled down into her shallow, dusty bed and sighed deeply, ending with a whimper.

Night deepened the twilight, continuing to enfold the wild, wounded baby.

“What happened, my pet?” she asked gently.

“My mother is dead,” gasped the shaking youngster. “She flushed from the creosote where we both hid and the hawk grabbed her. She screamed when his talons cut her, then she was quiet. He tore her apart in front of me. I smelled her blood and warm flesh. I could not move. I could not stop watching.”

“She died well, little one. She died saving you.”

“But as I crept away, Coyote saw me and gave chase. My mother could not help me then, as I darted through cactus to get away. My ear caught on a thorn and tore, but I did not cry out. Coyote never found where I squatted in the prickly pear pads.”

“Your mother taught you how to run. She taught you where to hide. Because of her teachings you did not yelp when your ear was torn, so Coyote never found you. All creatures die, little one. What matters is how you live. Your mother had the heart of the mountain lion, though the form of a rabbit. You have that, too.”

“How so?” asked Cottontail.

“You are wise, quick, and passionate,” assured Night. “I see that very clearly.”

“My mother was too,” spat Cottontail, “and she is still dead!”

“All creatures die, little one,” repeated Night fondly.

“Now that my mother’s gone, where can I be safe?” sobbed Cottontail.

“Safety is an illusion,” Night said with a tiny smile.

“Then I will stay strong with running, and eat greens to stay healthy and never get old and weak.”

“Eternal youth is illusion too,” sighed Night. “Still, preserve health as best you can.”

“For what?” wailed Cottontail.

“For your children,” answered Night. “For your passion, for your lion’s heart, for Life.”

“So what? That’s not enough,” gasped Cottontail, utterly heartsick.

At that moment, Sun, who had already slipped below the horizon, ignited the western clouds with the glory of his setting. Colors of salmon, midnight blue, gossamer orange-gold, flashed together for a minute to turn the world pink, before fading to grey and silver-black in Night’s arms. Night and Cottontail watched, spellbound, love-struck.

“It is enough,” acknowledged Cottontail.

“Indeed it is,” replied Night.

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