It was an ordinary walk around the lake, the sun bright, the wind and waves stirring the low muck and turning the water a choppy, ruined green. Neither of us were paying much attention to where we were going so I let Duncan lead the way, unconcerned about direction or duration. It was the kind of late afternoon when my legs desired nothing more than to walk and stretch and forget the chair I'd sat in all day, moving wherever Duncan led, to enjoy the cool warmth of the sun on my face and the sweet lake breeze washing over my skin. I wished this evening could somehow be put on pause, that the mottled, playfully clouded sky would not change color and the sun would be content to hold its place above the mountains until we were ready to turn toward home. So we moved slowly and lazily, without an agenda, which is the best way to walk with a friend.
The rabbits were sitting on the very edge of the lake trail, balanced in the grass inches from the sharp concrete line of the sidewalk. Duncan would not have seen them at all except that the mother saw him first, raised her head, turned her ears in our direction and then bolted for shelter in the willows. Her kit flattened itself out, narrowing its body and holding its breath, brown eyes wide and alert as Duncan and I approached.
Duncan stepped forward cautiously, not wanting to startle the thing, raising each paw slowly as he advanced. I tightened my grip on his leash even though I knew there was no reason. He is on good terms with the rabbits of the area. I watched him move, stepping slowly each time I moved, the two of us in perfect, silent sync. The wind rustled his hair and the sunlight inflamed it, casting a vibrant golden aura around his head.
The bunny did not move, merely laid quietly in the grass and let us come forward until we were standing nearly on top of it. Passersby paused and watched until a small crowd had gathered around us, many of them placing bets on who would win. "My money is on the dog," one man said with a hint of blood lust in his voice. I smiled, knowing that unless he was prepared to see Duncan lick the rabbit into submission, there would be no violence this evening. Duncan paid no heed but stayed focused. Eventually he crouched down, paws extended inches from the rabbit and simply watched, his tail twitching a merry every few seconds, barely stirring the grass behind him.
Eventually they came to a silent agreement. The bunny rose and stretched, fluttered its ears once and turned nonchalantly, and ambled into the tall willows where its mother had vanished ten minutes earlier. Duncan climbed to his feet, sniffed the warm, matted patch once, turned to me and smiled wide. The man who'd laid odds on the rabbit's death sighed in disappointment as his wife pulled him back onto the trail to continue their walk. The gathered crowd murmured in awe and nearly everyone praised Dunc for his restraint. I suppose it was a remarkable thing for them to see, but I know him, know that he only wanted to witness the thing and appreciate it, leave it at peace and unafraid, to turn his back on the passing of time and savor a moment that felt as though it should last forever.
He is magical, my dog. He makes wishes come true.