“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”
“How can this be possible?” I ask my two table mates.
“How can what be possible?” replies one of my companions.
“You two sitting here, drinking tea and chatting like lifelong friends. It just isn’t possible and should not be happening. That’s all there is to it.”
I take a deep breath and try explaining what, to me, is obvious. “Because you are a . . . well, you’re a dog, and she’s a rabbit.”
“Yes, she is a rabbit and I am a dog. That’s true.” Dog empties his cup; then offers it to Rabbit who fills it again.
“By all that is natural and normal, you are enemies.” I speak using my most authoritative voice.
“Are we?” the dog asks.
I’m trying to decide if this dog is teasing me. At the same time, I wonder about the rabbit. I can’t understand why she is so calm. He could devour her in one chomp. “Yes. In the animal kingdom dogs chase and eat rabbits while rabbits run and hide from dogs.”
“How do you know that?” Rabbit asks, speaking for the first time. Her voice is not as soft as I expect. I’m surprised by the tranquil strength she exudes as she pours tea.
“I know because I have been taught that. Everyone knows that. It’s in books.”
“What are books?” Dog asks, leaning on the table with his forelegs pointed in my direction.
“What are books!?” I gasp. “Never mind that now. This rabbit should be running for all she’s worth, if she wants to stay alive.” Despite attempts to the contrary, my impatience laces every word.
“Should she?” Dog asks. The corners of his mouth turn upward in an almost undetectable smile that makes me think he’s just having a game with me. I know at any moment he’s going to put his enormous mouth on her tiny head and have a snack.
“What about you?” I ask Rabbit, imploring her to enter this conversation. “What do you have to say?”
Rabbit pauses and takes a deep breath. “I say it’s time for another pot of tea.” She raises one paw to attract the server’s attention.
“No, no, no. This isn’t about tea.”
Rabbit looks at Dog and then back to me. “Would you rather have coffee?
My bottom jaw drops to my breastbone and silence tumbles into my teacup. Dog sits back in his chair and eyes me. I begin to wonder if I’m the snack this morning.
I shake my head and return to my original question. “How can this be possible?”
Dog follows suit by repeating one of his original queries. “Why . . .” he begins while watching Rabbit as she pours more tea. “She has nothing to fear from me. She is my friend”
“Look, Mr. Dog. I mean no disrespect, but you eat meat, right? She is meat.”
“Yes. Do you eat meat?” Dog issues a full smile now in what I believe is canine humor meant to mock a less-wise human.
“Yes but . . .”
“Do you eat your friends?”
“Don’t be ridiculous; of course not. And you are changing the subject. You have nothing in common. You are enemies, plain and simple. You always have been and always will be.”
“I see.” Dog scratches his chin with one paw.
“We both like tea.” The sound of Rabbit’s voice startles me. I’ve almost forgotten she’s at the table. I jump, spilling hot tea on my right index finger.
“Ouch.” I put my finger in my mouth and sit in confused suspicion as I look from one to the other.
Dog uses his large, hairy paw to bring my wounded digit back to the table. He leans down and licks my new wound. His gentle touch dismisses my fear of being on his menu.
“We have many things in common even though we have many differences.” He looks around us. I follow his gaze. We are sitting at a small table outside a coffee house in the mountains of Colorado. We’re beside a clear stream carrying melted snow from high peaks that will provide water to the flatter lands. The waves in the water are various sizes. They flow at rapid speed, separate yet together, moving toward the same destination. They’ve no time to question solidarity.
My attention is drawn to three birds of different colors and sizes perched on a nearby tree branch. They perform a composition in three-part harmony that sends shivers of pleasure through my small frame. Dog nods as if he hears percussion in the little concert. I marvel at him and Rabbit in their unhurried, peaceful, shared relaxation.
Rabbit puts her delicate paw under my chin and lifts my head skyward. I gaze through green leaves and see an array of blue hues on an infinite canvas. The three of us follow movement of clouds chasing each other on their celestial journey. As we gaze upward together, I am brought into a secret corridor of their understanding. I become relaxed, at peace, content.
“I see.” I mutter. They are the only words I have uttered in several minutes.
Rabbit breaks the trance when announcing she must attend to her young. She departs under the brush and long grasses bordering the stream. Dog clears his throat.
“My humans will be concerned. It’s my lunchtime. I never miss lunchtime. You know us dogs must have our meat.” He winks and takes his leave.
My smile unmasks my joy of discovery, and I break into laughter. A voice interrupts my musings. “Honey, are you okay?” The voice belongs to my husband.
“Honey, wake up. Who are you talking to? Why are you laughing?”
As he nudges me awake, my eyes focus, and I attempt to explain. “Keith I’ve had the most extraordinary experience. There was a rabbit and a dog and tea and . . .”
“I know, Love. But it was only a dream. Tell me in the morning. It’ll be dawn soon.” He kisses my forehead and rolls over onto his side.
“No, no Keith. It was real.” My protests are lost as slumber recaptures him.
The clock says it’s a few hours past midnight, but for me it is already a new dawning. I get out of bed and move to the living room. Out of habit I reach for the remote control and turn on the TV.
A world leader is speaking to a cheering crowd of people. Those present raise their voices in enthusiastic roars of approval.
“We must never forget those different from us are our enemies. We don’t have beliefs, habits, or cultures in common. They’ll present a real threat if we allow them to bring their lifestyles into our country. I am telling you they will eat us for dinner if we don’t prevent it. It is them or us.”
Cheers and applause rise to an ear-splitting level.
“We must never forget they have always been our enemies. History tells us that. It’s been recorded in books throughout centuries. They will always be our adversaries. We’ll never see eye to eye or have common values. Why I bet they even eat different food than us.”
The crowd erupts in laughter and pumps their fists in the air. He joins them in both.
I turn off the TV, hug my legs into my chest, and rest my forehead on my knees. Keith’s right; it was only a dream. It just seemed so real to me. A tear comes to my eye and does its best to defy gravity but loses. I try to slow its progress by wiping it with my right index finger. The salty liquid stings and I pull my hand away. In the moonlight, coming from an open window, I stare at a little raised blister on my wounded right paw.
Illustration by Sally M. Cordrey, M.A.
It is usually my preference to write from the nonfiction lens. But every now and then, I step into the world of fantasy and/or allegory to express a creative idea. This story is based on a vision I was given by God four years ago by a river in Summit County, Colorado. It appears here for the first time on my blog. But it is featured in my book, Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Short Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments (details on how to purchase that book are below). I believe, in this vision, God was trying to say that no matter how divided we seem at times, we have more in common than we think; and living in harmony is never impossible.
Connect with me, Laura Padgett, on Twitter @lauraleepadgett or my Facebook Author Page
Check out the books I have published:
- “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.
- The award-winning “Jesus in Shorts: Twenty-five Shorts Stories of Life-Changing Jesus Moments,” available now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
If you would like an autographed copy of my books, please click on the tab on my home page for buying books. I will send you one after you purchase it there.