a thing that goes thump in the night

The faint line of dawn creeps over the curtain rail, diluting the darkness. It wasn’t the only polutant contaminating my sleep. The dream of a grey rabbits foot thumping a warning formed itself inside a bubble in my mind. I saw the grey fur and the fluffy tail. Another thump burst the bubble, scattering the parts, while I found myself upright and trudging out of the bedroom in a state of vague consciousness onto the balcony to see what’s caused her to wake up the neighbourhood – yes, it’s that loud.

Drawing back the blanket that darkens her hutch and opening the door, I see her twitching nose peer out from the back room where she spends the night hours.
“What are you doing up at this hour?” Her twitching nose seems to ask.
“Your thumping foot, your majesty.” I tell her audibly.
She turns her back dismissivly and the silver specks in her grey-blue coat catch the light from the kitchen.
She’s not interested in a cuddle, so I replace the blanket and close the balcony door after me.

Back under my duvet, the dawn creeps over the curtain rail, spreading its long finders over the ceiling. Thoughts begin to populate the strips of light I stare up at as my girlfriend sighs a sleepy sigh. She’s lived her whole life with me in my environment and I have taken the greatest care to tailor our shared space to her needs. She’s never known a predetor, or felt the hedgerow brush her face as she’s burst through towards the entrance of the warren, heart in her mouth, unsure if she’ll make it into the tunnel safely. And yet, that warning thump that penetrates my sleep, puncturing my dreams brings me to the edge of hers. A smell, a sound; something has found its way into her mind and awoken the need to warn her warren-mates who are sleeping humans with jobs and deadlines and now a sleep deficit.

Her small brain doesn’t recognise this. To her we are large, naked rabbits who put ourselves in great danger to bring her food. She knows this because we sometimes smell of things that are not in our home. The reward for our great risk is a lick on the nose whenever we come down to her level. And at least twice a day, she will settle down on the bed and allow us to stroke her. She understands that we like this.

At the end of every day she watches me place a piece of cucumber in her hutch before jumping in and turning to look up at me. I administer the final part of our nightly ritual – a head rub – and close the door, stretch the blanket over the front of her hutch and hope there are no strange smells in the air, no sounds that might signal threat and no thumping to invade our sleep.

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