(Started 6:37 pm, Ended 6:53pm, Total writing time: 15 minutes)
B is for Basket
She was only five when she was taken. Those were her mother’s words. Taken. Or, sometimes: Stolen from us. Stolen away from us.
Now Alice is fifteen, and she remembers the taking the same way she remembers most things — through other people’s stories.
“Remember the time mom gave you a beer when you were two and you drank the whole thing?”
“Larry, don’t tell your sister that. Honey, I would never…”
“You did so.” And leaning in to her, Larry would whisper. “I remember. I was there. She got you drunk.”
So Alice remembers the way of being drunk, the curved can in her fat fists (she remembers the fat fists, too, because she saw them once in a picture of her as a baby, scrunched around a blanket), the water that dripped from the outside and wet her palms, the bending of the world through tiny eyes.
This, too, is how she remember being taken. How the bunny man had put her in a pastel striped basket, the easter grass that scratched her bare arms and tickled her nose. There were eggs in there, the hard plastic kind and one was pushing into her back with every stride that the bunny man took. He talked to her as he walked, not like a bunny, but like the man that was inside the bunny suit. He said nice things to her about getting her out of the mall (bad lights, bad for the baby), about taking her home (to his nice home, just him and his cat and a pretty little bed he’d already made for her). She remembers the smells, sweet and sour, of the car and his skin. He had fat cheeks, like a chipmunk, like a smiling cat, and the day he took her, he was wearing overalls beneath his bunny suit, which was pale pink and dirty around the edges of the ears and tail.
Larry doesn’t tease her about that. Those are stories she heard, memories she made, from the quiet conversations of the adults after she came back home. This is why they no longer celebrate Easter at her house. It is not, as her mother instructs her to tell everyone, because they converted to Judaism. It is not, as she’s overheard Larry tell his friends, because his sister is afraid of rabbits.
She likes rabbit. She just does not like men in bunny suits.
She also likes baskets. The pink and green and yellow of the squares make her feel safe. The sound of her hands through the plastic grass is reassuring. If she puts a whole plastic egg in her mouth, it tastes like safety.
There is something she remembers that she wasn’t told. No one has ever said. That the man in the bunny suit is dead. That he was killed and she was unstolen. Untaken. Returned to us.
She doesn’t remember being unstolen. She doesn’t remember being untaken. Returned to them. But here she is.
And every day, when she remembers, the man in the bunny suit rolls an egg-shaped stone away from the hole of her mouth and he rises again.