I drive like a goddamn idiot. That is to say, I drive like a teenager who got her license less than a year ago. I also have two black and white rabbits. Their names are Poppy and Clover and they’re adorable.
I’m not exaggerating about how I drive. I inadvertently run red lights, I always go at least 15 miles over the speed limit, and I listen to heavy metal at maximum volume because it makes me feel cooler than I am. I don’t get distracted necessarily, but I get wrapped up in some Mad Max-style fantasy.
It took me years to work up the courage to sit behind the wheel of a car. When I was twelve, a dead buck unexpectedly came flying through the windshield of my mom’s car one night. My mom didn’t have time to swerve before the glass broke and there was a dead deer’s head on my lap. My mom pulled into an empty parking lot and screamed for two minutes before calling AAA.
After that night, riding in the car was difficult for me. I didn’t trust myself to drive because I didn’t know what I would do if I hit an animal or had a panic attack when I was in control of a vehicle. Still, I hated feeling powerless if someone else was driving, regardless of how much I trusted them.
I’d been asking for a pet bunny since I knew how to talk. I love rabbits to the extent that my childhood bedroom looked like a temple to an all-powerful rabbit god. Three years ago, I finally adopted Poppy and Clover.
We begin our story on the night of April 20th , 2019. I’m driving home from something at around 10 pm. I was taking my usual route home on the same road the deer incident happened on a few years prior but that was the last thing I was thinking about; I’d been feeling overconfident about my driving at this point. I couldn’t see well more than fifteen feet ahead of me. The road was marked 35 mph, but I was going 55.
A flash of brown in the corner of my eye.
A thought comes to my mind–bunny.
The rabbit begins to run across the road
There’s a car behind me. I’m going too fast to stop.
I freeze while my car keeps rolling forward. I know there are only two possibilities: the rabbit got across the road in time…or…. it didn’t.
I pray to every deity I can think of that they were swift enough.
Please. Please no.
It comes like a dagger in my heart. The most awful sensation in all the world. Time seems to slow down as my car moves forward and I feel it-
I begin to scream and cry and panic all at once, the same first reaction my mother had when she hit an animal on this road. I pull into the same empty parking lot she did and continue screaming and crying and staring wide-eyed at the spot where the rabbit had been in my vision.
I start to rationalize with myself.
Maybe you didn’t hit it. That could’ve been a stick; that could’ve been anything.
I force myself to turn around and drive slowly back up the road. I crane my neck and look for the spot where it happened. I don’t want to describe what I saw. I had definitely hit it.
I cry the rest of the way home.
As soon as I get to my house, I pick up my rabbits and hold them close and confess what happened. I get tears on them and apologize over and over and I vow to them that it will never happen again.
I’m still not a great driver but I do drive with more care now. I’m growing out of my recklessness and invincibility and I now realize that driving doesn’t exist within a bubble- my stupid decisions can affect the world around me and that which I love. I still blast music with the windows down and speed on open roads but I’m always looking for the small brown blur before it’s too late.