81. The Rabbit, Part 3

The curve of his neck reminded her of trees and how they bend in the wind. When she scratched her arm or leg, he was reminded of his fear of swarming ants.

The vacant look he sometimes got on his face, which angered her at first, reminded her of her nipples after a hot shower, how she’d wipe the steam off the glass and think, there they are. After a story about rabbits, she demonstrated a brief moment of hesitation and then she smiled as if suddenly understanding the story’s accuracy, and he’d recall times in his life when the apartment was empty and he’d feel the wall for a switch and he thought it interesting that he could never remember whether the switch was higher or lower, more right or more left.

When she bled, he tossed out the knives for he was alarmed at the tenderness of her flesh, and when she saw the knives in the waste bin, she wept because she once raised a rabbit and everyone knows that rabbits are a symbol of cuts.

Her fingers made him think about the isolation of political prisoners. His fingers made her hungry but she never told him this, because she wanted to avoid embarrassments.

The water she swam through brought to his mind memories of fishing ships, ships who’s wakes draw sea birds down to gnaw at the bones, but he didn’t tell her this because he foresaw difficulties explaining the beauty of this image and because she loved to swim, her love of swimming reminding him of a particular painting he’d seen in Brussels of slender fish twisted into knots.

What he didn’t tell her and what she didn’t tell him became a burden. What was the nature of this shared burden? This burden brought back to both of them the rhythms and concentric waves of banal childhood loneliness and their parents and parents’ friends laughing at their respective dinner tables, her family gathering around the Advent Wreath and platters with strange meats, his displaying over wine disdain against the utter stupidity of believers and the faithfilled. Neither he nor she spoke of this.

“I love the curve of your neck. It reminds me of swans,” she said, which he suspected wasn’t true.

She said, “When you threw away the knives, your anger made me love you all the more.”

“When you swim,” he said, “I think of rabbits,” and she would think, “That’s odd, the adjacency of rabbits and water.”

And he would pour her wine and he would watch the glass go to her lips, and he would make a simple observation, “Her lips are touching the glass.” And she would pour him wine and she would think, “I don’t even like wine but I enjoy watching him drink it.”

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