Arts & Culture » Culture

Excerpt from the beginning of Be Mine

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Harcourt
$23 hardcover, 320 pp.

I stepped out the door this morning to a scarf of blood in the snowy driveway.

Like a bad omen, or a threat, or a gruesome valentine—a tire track, and the flattened fur of a small brown rabbit.

The florist must have run it over, delivering the roses—running late already by nine o’clock in the morning. When she handed me the long white box at the door she never mentioned having killed anything in my driveway. Maybe she never noticed. "It’s our busiest day of the year," she said, breathless, "of course."

I was running late myself when I saw it. What could I do? The damage had already been done — utterly crushed, completely beyond hope—and cleaning it up seemed pointless. It was already snowing again. Soon, the evidence would be buried.

But I also felt such a pang of grief, seeing that bit of brown fur in the blood, that I had to steady myself at the car door.

Was it one of the baby bunnies I’d accidentally startled from their hole in the garden last spring while planting morning glory seeds? I’d screamed when they scurried out of the soft dirt, and didn’t go near that edge of the flower bed again all spring, into summer.

The mother rabbit abandons them, doesn’t she, if she smells a human on them?

It would have been impossible to know if this dead one was one of those, but I felt sick with it. Guilt. My valentine roses had brought this sad end to something that had only been, moments before, making its way back to its little den under the snow. If I were a better woman, I thought, in less of a hurry, I’d get Jon’s shovel out of the garage and dig a grave — a proper burial, maybe a cross made of popsicle sticks, like the kind Chad, when he was seven, made for Trixie’s grave.

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