I used to own real bunnies in Shanghai, China. My grandpa always bought some for me. But my only distinct memory of owning a pet rabbit was in my grandparents’ apartment. It was 2011, so I was seven years old and as obsessed with bunnies as some girls are obsessed with “Let It Go.” My friend Giselle came to visit me and my grandparents, and she brought a moving present—a real, snow-white, fluffy rabbit! I had been wishing for one already!
We played with the bunny, whom we named Carrot, until Giselle had to go back to her place. Carrot was looking at me wistfully through the purple wired crate.
“If you want to set him free, do that. But only on our balcony, in case he makes a mess,” said my grandma. I swear, that woman can read my mind!
We let him eat carrots off the cool, tiled balcony of my grandparents’ apartment. I lifted him up so he could see the ant-like people dotting the lush green grass, and the surrounding buildings in this area of crowded China. It’s safe to say that he loved when I did that. Oh, the summertime joys!
We would sometimes walk him to the park. Lots of feral cats lived there, and they actually scared Carrot! We held him, petted him, and let him drink water from a little blue saucer on the porch.
He ate carrots and played with us peacefully, until, on the fifteenth day we had him, we had to give him away somehow because we were going to another part of China to stay for a couple of weeks.
That night, while my grandma was lulling him to sleep, Carrot drew in his last breath. His heart stopped beating. His eyes closed.
I knew what happened. I ran from my room to the porch.
“He knew… he knew we were going away. It… it was his time…” my grandma explained, her eyes fogging up. “Oh, Claire, I’m so sorry!”
I burst into tears and hugged her tightly, as if she would float away from me if I let go, just like Carrot. It wasn’t her fault. Maybe Carrot had a disease. Maybe he was old. Maybe…
I trudged back to my room, defeated. I sat on the dusty old piano bench and played “Swan Lake.” Only this time, the song sounded sadder and more lonesome.
I cried until my eyes were red. Red, like Carrot’s eyes, I thought. Red, like my anger, and red like beauty.
While I was trying to fall asleep that miserable night, suddenly I gasped. I saw Carrot floating on the air. He had a golden halo. He smiled at me.
“Claire, you must not be sad. You took good care of me. You can sleep in peace knowing that you will see me once more…”
I knew I could let my past slip away. The future is waiting. Carrot was guarding me, like an angel. He was watching me, from heaven.
One day, I will see him again.