“Where do you want to go?”
“Are you sure? What if you get hurt? Are you going to be okay?”
“I will be okay.”
Her knees drop onto the dry grass as she releases him from her arms. Her light fingers automatically go to the back of his ears, where she scratches him absentmindedly.
“You’ll be okay, right?”
“Of course I will be.”
The bottom of the dress swishes on the grass, which crackles and snaps in response. She pauses, makes a small twitching movement, as if unsure of herself; then, she bends down and scoops him back into her milk-white arms, cradling him.
“Are you sure? What if you get hurt?”
“Come on, there’s no need to worry!”
“Yes, silly of me, isn’t it? Silly of me to worry.” She twirls a loose strand of hair and attempts to put it back into the bun. It doesn’t fit.
“I have always said that you worry far too much.” He taps her nose, and she wrinkles it in response. He squirms out of her arms and sits, contemplating her.
A laugh is carved out of her throat, pegs the atmosphere, assaults the air. “Either way, I’ll die in the end, right? If I worry a lot, I’ll die, and if I don’t worry a lot, I’ll die. But I just can’t help worrying about you. I worry about you a lot. If you get hurt or sad or dead, I worry.”
He doesn’t reply, only looks burningly at her.
“You should not worry about me. I will be fine.”
“Well, there’s nothing to do now, but wait, right?”
“You don’t have to lie to me, you know,” the girl says while twirling her dress such that it opens and closes like a many-lipped oyster. “You can just tell me what’s going to happen to you. I really don’t like liars.” The sun beats down on her neck, causing small beads of sweat to form. She debates on whether or not to continue the conversation. A hot, heavy silence coalesces.
After spinning aimlessly for a second of eternity, she stops and peers down at him.
He twitches a few times under her bright stare, and then returns the favor. The back of his eyes are dark and unreadable, his expression blank.
“Okay then, be that way. Don’t tell me anything.” She pouts.
“There’s nothing to worry about, you know. I will be perfectly fine. Just go back and this will all just be a dream. I will be back before you know it.”
He bats his ear playfully, and she smiles, off-setting the pressing matters at hand. Her smile fades as the loud gong of thunder signals the start of the end. He stops, glances up, and takes a few steps towards the thunderstorm brewing miles away.
“This is it?”
There is a strained silence as they acknowledge each other.
“Good-bye, mister rabbit.” She steps back from the asphalt, into the cool shade.
She turns and walks away, pauses, and fighting a great internal battle, stops.
Eyes wide, breathing quickly, she turns around and sprints back to where he was.
There’s a sense of absence instilled in the air. The atmosphere, just as hot and humid as before, holds no electricity – instead, there is a heavy, marbled heartbeat in its wake. In his emptiness there is a sense of nothingness.
She runs. Rain begins falling a few miles away onto the parched ground with surprisingly little sound. The wind begins riling the tufts of grass into a frenzy of activity; the air mutters of an impending finality. She slows down and glances up to where he is, wherever he is, a resonant promise lodged in her ears – they will meet again.