This One Time, 97

This one time the twins were both sitting up on the sofa and trying to give each other this ratty old stuffed bunny. I could imagine why neither of them would want it — it was old enough to vote and get drafted and buy beer, though it might not be able to grow a decent beard without the help of whatever fungus might be growing on it at any given moment. It’d been ripped open and unstuffed and restuffed and had ears and eyes sewn back on and done about as many stints in the washing machine as my cousin Bob has done in jail, but those brief absences let me know what to expect if it ever disappears for good.

It’s basically a sponge for soaking up whatever oozes out of the twins, and I guess about ten or so previous owners as well, plus about a million unnameable puddles it’s encountered during its lifespan. As long as it’s been in the family, it’s been an important part of training developing immune systems. It’s like an heirloom sourdough starter.

Right then I loved that awful thing because it was making them laugh. The Man calls it “Pestilence Rabbit” and won’t touch it without gloves or a fresh one of those baggies that he takes with the dog when they go for a walk. The twins know his weakness, though. They try to touch him with it and make him flinch. And that makes me laugh too. Which The Man does not appreciate. Lately he’s been trying to change its name to Mercy the MRSA Bunny, and I have to admit it’s catchy.

I no longer remember what color it was supposed to be. It’s freakin’ bunny colored. It may have started out blue or yellow or tan, but now it was one of those colors a designer would charge you a thousand dollars to smear all over your walls, something that would change based on lighting and whatever your color your chintz throw pillows were. I was tempted to take it down to the hardware store with the fancy color-matching paint-mixing system and see if they could manage it. Maybe I could patent it or trademark it or whatever and license it to the high-end nail polish companies. “Raggedy-Ass Bunny” could be the new hot color at all the nail salons.

But anyway, I watched the bunny hit the floor and continued to look over from time to time while my show was on to see what the twins would do about it. They could climb down and get back up by themselves, though they weren’t so big that it wasn’t a lot of work, whichever way they were going. One of them was standing up and bouncing, now, and the other … was just gone.

While I was looking around, she came running back in from the hallway, where she could never have got to without me noticing, and then there were three twins — one bouncing up and down on the sofa, one climbing into the loveseat, and … one on the floor between the sofa and the shoved-back coffee table, starting to cloud up because she couldn’t find the bunny.

I got out of my chair as the one looking for the bunny faded away. And then the one bouncing on the sofa vanished. The bunny was limp on the carpet, next to the sofa leg. The twin on the loveseat was looking at it making that fist opening-and-closing thing they do when they want you to give them something, and then she looked at me like she was starting to realize something was wrong. I picked her up and studied the little clues that changed every day to tell me which one she was and … she was both of them. The shape of the left ear, the self-inflicted scratch on the shoulder, the way she held out her leg when I picked her up… Every sign I looked for to know which she was was there. She was both of them.

I found myself starting to doubt how many children I’d given birth too. It was like a nightmare or something. I was starting to freak out.

I bent down to pick up the bunny so that maybe at least one of us could feel better, and, as my shadow fell across it, I saw it drift mauve, then bluish, then maybe something brownish, like old bones. I checked with my baby to see if she was looking at it, and when I looked back, the bunny was gone.

This was nuts. I was going crazy. I know these guys don’t let me get enough sleep, but still….

I set her on the sofa and got down on my hands and knees to see if I had nudged it under the sofa or table and looked up just in time to see my other baby climbing up onto the other end of the sofa. I looked up and there they were, Lisa on one end and Jillian skootching her way onto the middle cushion and … Mercy the MRSA Bunny was right on the floor between my knees. Not under the sofa. Not under the coffee table. Where I should have seen it the whole time.

I gave them the bunny and they were happy again. I, on the other hand, was breathing hard, like I’d just been through the most harrowing thing I’ve ever been through in my life. I was shaking. I went back to may chair to sit down, and I knew for sure there was a fresh glass of red wine in my future.

It was like we’d been cycling through different scenarios, different realities, for some reason, trying to get back to the one we could live with.

Whatever. I had my babies. They had each other and the bunny. We were all home. I didn’t give a damn about anything else.


April 7, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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