Short Story of the Day – A Hundred and Twenty Muscles, by Rachel Heng

When it came to Lea’s turn, she held him up to her face. He wriggled between her hands, a warm, alive thing. She felt his delicate ribs under the flesh and fur, thin bones interlocking like puzzle pieces, protecting some squirming secret within.

—-Rachel Heng, A Hundred and Twenty Muscles

H.O.P. Rabbits, by David Iles

A Hundred and Twenty Muscles, by Rachel Heng

from The Offing

About the Author:

Rachel Heng

Rachel Heng is the author of the novel, Suicide Club  (Henry Holt / Sceptre, 2018). Suicide Club was a national bestseller in Singapore, named a most anticipated book of the summer by the Huffington Post, The Millions, Gizmodo, Bustle, New Scientist, ELLE, Bitch Media, The Independent, Stylist, The Irish Times, NYLON, Tor.com and The Rumpus, and will be translated into 10 languages worldwide.

Rachel was named one of The Independent’s ‘Emerging Authors To Look Out For in 2018‘, won Singapore Women’s Weekly’s Great Women of Our Time (Arts and Media) 2018 Award, and has been profiled by the BBC, The Evening Standard, The Telegraph, The Straits Times, Channel News Asia, Electric Literature, Library Journal and The Rumpus. Rachel’s short fiction has received a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, Prairie Schooner‘s Jane Geske Award, and have been published or are forthcoming in Glimmer TrainKenyon Review, Tin House, Guernica, The Offing and elsewhere. She has received grants and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and the National Arts Council of Singapore.

Rachel was born and raised in Singapore. After graduating from Columbia University with a BA in Comparative Literature & Society, she spent several years working in private equity in London. She now lives in Austin, where she is a fiction fellow at UT Austin’s Michener Center for Writers.

About the Story:

Not a very pleasant story, but a well-written one. You feel the vitality and the delicacy of the pet bunny… and… well, read it to find out. There are monsters among us, and they don’t even know what they are.

I reminds me of something recent – I wrote about it only a couple of months ago:

We have had Isaak, our dog, our rescue, for a year now. We don’t know exactly how old he is, but he was a young puppy when he came to us, so he is a bit over a year old. He’s pretty much as big as he’s going to get, but still has a lot of puppy spirit, for good and bad, in him. Other than excitement over tennis balls and the squirrels in our backyard trees that taunt him – he’s a well behaved and relatively calm dog.

We also have my son’s black lab with us – he and Isaak get along great. It isn’t unusual for us to have other people’s dogs too – kept as a favor for friends while they are on vacation or foster dogs (especially ones that need some socializing) or people pay us to watch their pooches.

The other day, we had another black lab mix staying, a little smaller than my son’s dog. So we had three… if not big, then good-sized dogs at the house.

I was having some trouble sleeping, and it was work the next day, so I was laying in bed, awake, trying to relax and get some rest before having to go back into the breach the next morning. A little after midnight… the guest dog wasn’t too comfortable with the doggie door, so Candy got up and let the three of them out the back door.

I’m not sure why she did this, but as the dogs ran by she reached out and flipped on the light switch for the back yard (I mean… the dogs can pee in the dark, can’t they?) and there, right in the middle of the yard, illuminated by a circle of spotlights, sat a rabbit.

The dogs went nuts – all three bolted for the bunny – and the rabbit made a mistake. The rabbit ran to the east side of the house, where the fence runs along the wall, a few feet away, until it ends near the front. The rabbit hit that dead end and had nowhere to go but to turn around. The three dogs were on him.

Our dog, Isaak, like most dogs rescued from the Dallas pound, is a pit bull mix. He doesn’t really look like a pit (he has long legs and a long snout) but is, according to his DNA scan, one quarter American Staffordshire Terrier – which is a polite term for Pit Bull. The poor rabbit didn’t have a chance. He was dead in a few seconds.

Candy, of course, went crazy. You see, to her the dogs are like people. They live in the house, most of the time, eat the food you give them, and chase tennis balls around. But right under that domesticated surface is a wild animal… and seeing a big fat rabbit standing there right in the middle of their territory, the back yard, is enough to bring that wild animal boiling out in a split second.

I jumped out of bed, chased the dogs back inside and, with more than a little trepidation walked around to the side of the house (at this time, I didn’t know what had happened); I only knew that the dogs had run down something. There was the rabbit, a big one, freshly dead with a big hunk missing from its side.

Isaak was walking around, coughing.

“We need to take him to the emergency room,” Candy said.

“Naw, he’ll be alright, though you’d better keep an eye on him, he’ll probably yakk up a big ball of rabbit fur any minute,” I said.

So it fell to me to go out and pick up the poor dead rabbit and throw him over the fence. We live on a creek lot so I went around and took the body down by the water, so the coyotes will have a snack sometime later that night.

I feel bad about the bunny, but not too bad. There are hundreds of rabbits along that creek after all. I wonder why the rabbit ventured into our yard. Surely they have some survival instincts and our yard smells of dog as much as any – it’s like the rabbit tried to sneak into a kennel.

I didn’t get much sleep – Candy and my son’s dog were freaked out by the whole thing. Isaak was just excited.

He’s a city domesticated pit bull mix – this was probably the high point of his entire life.

H.O.P. Rabbits

David Iles, Bolivar
H.O.P. Rabbits
2000 Bronze
Frisco, Texas

A couple months ago, on a bicycle ride up to Denton, I found a cool sculpture – a bronze tornado – called November Devil, by David Iles. As I look from sculptures across the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (and beyond) I find different works by the same person. In the sculpture garden in Frisco, I found some little bronze rabbits that Iles had done – not as spectacular as a bronze tornado, but nice nonetheless.

H.O.P. Rabbits, by David Iles

H.O.P. Rabbits, by David Iles

H.O.P. Rabbits, by David Iles

H.O.P. Rabbits, by David Iles

—-The sculpture from Denton:

November Devil, David Iles, Denton, Texas

November Devil, David Iles, Denton, Texas