Something terrible happened last night.
I am going to tell you this story and, although it is tragic, there will be humor involved. Because while it was terrible and sad, it was also kind of insane. Once I stopped crying and came to grips with everything, I had to acknowledge that the situation was batshit crazy.
When I went out to do intervals on the W&OD Trail last night, it was cold, dark, and raining. I started the intervals and, halfway through the second one, a rabbit darted out of nowhere into the middle of the trail. He appeared so suddenly that I never had a chance to brake. There was just enough time to think HOLYSHITRABBIT! and then he thumped hard under my wheels.
I have never killed an animal. Not with my car, not with my bike, not ever. I’ve had close calls, but never any fatalities. I love animals and go out of my way to avoid harming innocent, unsuspecting creatures like rabbits. My childhood pet for over a decade was a rabbit. Rabbits are cute and fluffy. Hitting (and presumably killing) a rabbit was hugely upsetting.
So I burst into sobs but kept hammering to finish the interval. As soon as it was done, I turned around and rode back to the scene. He was lying beside the trail, warm and soft, but had no heartbeat. His leg was badly damaged, but otherwise there was no outward appearance of injury. It was heartbreaking. On the way back to him, I had decided that there was no way I could just leave him there dead in the rain, but my initial plan to zip him into my jacket and take him home for burial was thwarted when I saw his size and bloody leg. I was going to have to drive back later.
I did the last interval, cried the whole way home, thawed in the shower, and then drove out to Leesburg to the closest road/W&OD intersection. It was still pouring, so I got my umbrella and flashlight and started down the trail with a shoebox and a few plastic bags. I knew roughly where the rabbit had been, but as I flicked my light up the trail, it caught on something lying in the middle of the path.
It was a severed rabbit’s head.
JUST THE HEAD.
I yelped in horror and burst into sobs instantly because WHATTHEFUCK and then I took off running down the trail to where the body had been earlier. Because – and this is awesome in retrospect – I thought maybe MY rabbit would still be where I’d left him and this severed head thing possibly belonged to a different rabbit.
I wasn’t wondering for long. The headless body of my rabbit had moved to the middle of the trail about 50 meters up from the head. Upon seeing him, I took a few minutes to melt down and then picked up the headless body with a bag and tried to put him in the shoebox. I say “tried” because he had gotten surprisingly cold and stiff and his back leg sticking out made him a little too long to fit neatly. I had to bend him into fitting, which was horrible and gross, but not as horrible as carrying the soggy box back down the trail to collect the head or as gross as then putting the whole dripping collection into the trunk of the M Coupe.
Once the rabbit (parts 1 and 2) was safely stowed in my car, I was able to stop bawling and, after a respectable time (twenty minutes), start giggling at the awfulness of the whole thing. There was a decapitated, wet rabbit in my car. On purpose.
My plan had been to take him home and bury him the next day once the rain stopped (which, according to the weather forecast, will happen NEVER) but seeing how quickly he attracted the attention of other animals made the idea of leaving him on the patio overnight unappealing. I decided instead to take him into the woods behind my house and give him a memorial service under a nearby bridge. That way I could kindly dispose of the body while still allowing the circle of life to continue (aka, he’s probably being eaten by foxes and crows right now). I retrieved my soggy shoebox from the trunk, walked into the woods, climbed down the slippery rocks to get under the bridge, and then whump: overturned the box and let parts 1 and 2 come to their final resting place. I apologized to the rabbit and that was that.
Maybe you’ll read this and think I’m nuts. It felt a little nuts, but it also felt like the right thing to do. He deserved better than to die under my wheels, but the least I could do was not leave his body on the side of the trail like a piece of trash.
The end. Rest in Piece(s).
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