Bocci ducked as his Aunt’s heavy besom swung round in a wide arc. The springy birch twigs caught his hair, leaving his scalp stinging. “Blasphemy! We do not question The Creator – May He Be Always Revered!
“One more word, boy, and I swear, I’ll have you digging out the privy. WITHOUT a shovel,” she added, with a glare that could have fired pottery.
Bocci’s nose wrinkled. He stayed silent.
His Aunt’s eyes softened. She looked around and scuttled a little closer. “Listen, child,” she said quietly, “this talk is dangerous business. If the high priest hears of it, it won’t go well for me. Old women have been used as kindling for less.”
She raised her voice again. “Away with you! Finish your chores!” She glanced around once more. “And your prayers!” she added. Just in case.
Bocci stomped through the forest, huffing away the heavy scents of leaf mould and rot. Shafts of cold sunlight slipped through the tangle of branches above. He sat down on a log and picked up a fallen leaf, letting his fingers trace the sharp edges and smooth surfaces.
Bocci’s thoughts were scattered by the thick scent and sound of moving earth. A rabbit poked its head through the newly-formed hole and looked around. It was holding a carrot.
“What’s up, Boc?” it said.
“Don’t talk to me,” muttered Bocci.
The rabbit shrugged and bit the end off its orange snack.
Bocci listened to the noisy crunching for a few moments. “The priests say that The Creator gave only humans the power of speech,” he said eventually. “So rabbits can’t talk. So you must be my imagination.”
“Interesting,” said the rabbit. “What about the dwarves?”
“What about them?”
“They’re not human. They talk.”
Bocci rubbed his sore scalp. “I think,” he said slowly, “they have a different creator.”
“Not ‘the’ creator, then?” asked the rabbit.
The rabbit swallowed. “Some rabbits think the Almighty Buck made all of us in His image.”
“But you don’t?”
“Makes no sense. Why go to all that effort? You just need two rabbits, then, you know,” the rabbit coughed, “you get two more, and then they get bigger and have more rabbits – before long, there’re loads.”
“But who made the first two rabbits?”
“Dunno. Common ancestor?”
“Never mind. Gotta go. I’ve got eight mouths to feed.” It paused. “Might be thirteen by now.” The rabbit fixed its liquid eyes on Bocci. “May as well keep pondering the world, Boc. You don’t get off it alive either way.”
With that, it tossed away the end of its carrot and dived headfirst down the hole.
Bocci stared at the space where the rabbit wasn’t. After a few moments he remembered the leaf and held it up, eyes following the stem as it split into smaller veins, and then split again, and again.
He stood, brushing the damp from his backside. Whistling a complicated little tune he headed back towards his Aunt’s cottage.
This little tale is inspired by Fibonacci and his sequence, and of course his rabbits. Really, this is about those people (or even animals) who are willing to think beyond what they’re told to think, even if doing so might make their life more difficult. It ends on a forward-looking note, which seems appropriate for the end of December. Happy New Year everyone!