There are many stories which one might like to tell; some will see the light of day, some will always be kept away in a box of fine cedar; some, like this one, will pop up no later and no sooner than they should, and today is when one should. It is quite fun an experience to know someone who is a sea travel enthusiast: you hear astonishing tales of the seas, faithful passionate descriptions of several kinds of vessels and boats, and his experiences on a ship. A whole different situation it is if one's father happens to be such enthusiast: never ending tales of the seas, boring descriptions of several kinds of vessels and boats, and his ordinary experiences on a ship. This sort of character might very well do whatever necessary to be noticed and marked as such a person, even giving his own kind a nautical term for a name. And not only that, but one in a foreign language since he happened to have served on a Spanish galleon. We all have heard how Admiral Nelson got shot, and what his final words were - "They finally succeeded, I am dead." What we ignore according to what our enthusiast claims as a fact is that the bullet came winward, propelled by the ire of a catholic God who was jealous of the glory the Admiral was to achieve if he survived. So this he claimed every time he was drunk in the local bar. So he named his only son inspired by this story. It could have been worse: he could have named him Trafalgar.

Now, despite the not very enticing beginning of all this, the narration about to take off is one of love. The little red rabbit it is about had a way particular physiological characteristic which set on motion this piece of fiction, and which will give closure to it. But that's not the point right now. We must first point out how and where our rabbit lived: it was a quiet, distant patch of green land in the outskirts of an oak forest, with discrete areas of dandelions and lavenders, neighboured by a couple of creeks abundant with water fowl, and very importantly, devoided of natural predators. So life was calm and at times passive, so animals here grew old (but not always wise), so one had time to sit and contemplate and talk about it. Our rabbit enjoyed going to the nearest creek to see hundreds of duck, goose and swan take off blocking the sun, flapping so noisily he couldn't hear himself laugh. After it, he walked back home to breakfast and chatter with his family, though he did not talk much since he was still exhilarated with beauty. One day, rather than going back, the rabbit decided he would look for food himself and arrange himself a picnic, for he knew his father was in particular foul mood because of a hangover and as usual would start his yadda-yadda about his trips. Thus he began moving opposite whence he came and paid keen nose to what he could eat. And this is when our story actually begins.

As everybody knows, or at least everybody who studies rabbits knows, red rabbits have a cherry for a heart. This, as complicated to explain as it is, is true, so it is at some point mandatory to take a leap of faith and believe that a fleshy, soft fruit is capable of irrigating blood to a red rabbit's body. However, this is not the way particular physiological characteristic we have mentioned inasmuch as the cherry heart is part of every red rabbit. No, what we are talking about is that due to the improbable charade nature sometimes imposes to its creations, our rabbit's cherry stem, which in a common regular body would be the aorta, came from a knot which had given birth to a second stem and cherry. He had no idea of it, yet soon it would come to his knowledge, and would have to fix it, so to speak.

So, the little red rabbit made for the opposite side of the creek where he sat to see birds through a shallow part of it. He splashed and puddled in the water, humming unknown tunes of his, when he ran into a magpie goose almost already on the other side of the creek. The goose was staring at him, and had been since the rabbit approached the edge, but he could not have told. The rabbit felt fear, anxiety because the eyes were deep and dark, stuck in a head that barely moved at all, blankily looking at him. His ears felt backwards, his hind legs were twitchy, and he felt even more nervous because he was oblivious of whether the goose realised it. -You see, little rabbit, said the hoarse-voiced magpie goose, -you haven't much time to live unless... The dramatic pause the goose made took the little rabbit to a point of trembling so evidently that a couple of ducks woke up to the sound in the water. Apparently, the goose expected the rabbit to ask "unless what?", but his upper teeth were busy biting his lower lip, so he was not able. -Unless you take great risk and go and find the other one with the stem coming from the knot from which your stem and cherry heart came... Here the little rabbit gasped and in spite of fear gave the goose a bewildered look. -You do know you have a cherry heart, don´t you? The rabbit nodded. -You do know you have a cherry stem for an aorta, don't you? - asked the goose in a higher-pitched voice. The rabbit nodded once more. -Ok, so, you see, this stem of yours has a, say, missing part at the end of it since it comes from a knot. I'm sorry for not exactly telling you the anatomically precise terms, but I am a sage, not a doctor. Either way, that piece, that tiny piece of stem missing is, say, a leak which will cause your heart to drain, so in a couple of years you might, you will probably become a sad drunken being full of bitterness at the end of a bar. Just kidding! Actually, you might very well die. So, if you want to avoid it, you have got to go find the one with the incomplete cherry heart and stem. The rabbit was still looking at him in bewilderment. -Oh, don't tell me you don´t buy my story. I mean, just this morning your thoughts were about whether you could ride a swan and fly away and start again, right? And for god's sake, you´re a talking RED rabbit, so don't you dare say anything on this matter, said the goose in distress, -Listen, it´s been good talking to you, but I've got to make some other predictions for the day. Yet, and here the goose regained his hoarse voice, -beware of your future and make for it. Then the magpie goose took flight without looking at the little red rabbit.

The rabbit had not realised the couple of ducks he had woken up were laying eyes on him at that moment - he was too busy thinking what the goose meant by "the other one." -Excuse me, sorry for interrumpting your scrumptious recall of events, but I believe I must before you start asking why, who, when, where and why again. To begin with, there is no possible way for you to know why this has occurred since what should worry you is what lies ahead, not behind. Secondly, who this is has little to do with lost relatives or the sort, so erase from your head these thoughts of "could it be a long lost twin brother?" Besides, we are talking cherry hearts, thus it must be about love, innit? And about the when and the where, they must be unknown to you for this to keep you going, right?, said one of the ducks to the rabbit. -Ey, said the other, -I dunno nothing about cherry hearts and that, but I'm sure there is a large group of rabbits living on the other side of the forest, and based on what I heard, that damned goose didn't give you the slightest hint on where to start, so you may wanna start there, savvy? It´s a month walk through the forest. Of course, we fly anywhere, but our friend Zezé, told us he's pretty sure of it cause, well, he's a duck who doesn't fly. He's afraid of it, savvy? The red rabbit nodded while he gasped, or gasped while he nodded, and began walking towards the forest not before waving the ducks goobye. -Chump has got to get himself together if he thinks he can unveil the secrets of a narration..., said the first duck.

The little red rabbit crossed the creek once more, and started hopping towards the forest. He avoided thoughts of what was going on since the duck's explanation seemed clear - as clear as you could call it clear. The forest was well-lit, full of holes and crevices where he could have a good night of safe sleep, rich in plants he could eat, therefore we shall skip this whole month of hop traveling.

So he came out of the forest at the opposite side of where he lived. There was a clear of short, tight grass with a pyramidal pile of pebbles in the centre, adorned with a couple of dandelions. In the distance, there were a few rabbit holes peppering the field, each of them with a just a bit smaller similar pyramid at the entrance. Our rabbit had a hard time trying to make something out of them because he had never seen something like that. Either way, he began walking to the holes, wondering how in heavens one starts a search for an incomplete cherry heart. When he reached the point which was equidistant to every single rabbit hole, he had the odd yet always paranoically natural sensation he was being observed. He turned around and around and around, and all he saw was holes and pyramids of pebbles adorned with dandelions. He decided to get closer to the one with the highest pyramid. The little rabbit heard nothing either, but thought about what one of his uncles had said a while ago. -There's this place called city, and there there's this place called movies, and there there are things called movies, right? Don't ask me why the place and the object are called the same. So I got in, and in there there was this movie called 'Indiana Jones in the temple of dune', right? Bad movie, well, based on my prejudice of just seen three movies, right? Well, my friend Jack Robin, house pet rabbit, see, said there is this thing called 'klistché', and that Indiana Jones too is full of them, like when the natives there come out of thin air and attack him, right? Course you have no idea what I say cause you seen not the movie, but Jack Robin says he seen lots of movies and that always happens, especially because it is expected the 'klistché' happens. Jack Robin, what a posh name he's been... So our little red rabbit approached the pile of pebbles asking himself if a bunch of natives would come out of thin air to attack him. Curiosity grew larger and larger, and before he laid his left paw on the pebble atop, rabbits started to come out hooting loudly, tapping the floor with their hind legs, and moving their front ones from side to side. The little red rabbit had his eyes wide open, unable to utter anything, just babbling monosyllables, knowing not whether to run like hell or stay frozen, which by the way seemed to be what his body had decided to do by itself. The hooting rabbits came closer and closer while the red rabbit grew rigider and rigider. A huge black rabbit hopped in front of him. -Hey, said in a calm tone, -my name is Jackson. We haven´t scared you, have we? All the other rabbits stopped hooting and tapping, and began smiling to our little rabbit. -We never seem to make anyone scream despite the fact they do look frightened. Like you. Perhaps the hooting isn't scary enough. That owl and his hooting gave us the scare of our lives, remember it? Though it might be that owls eat rabbits, so... Whatever! Listen everyone, as of today no more hooting, and please start looking for a spookier sound. Animal sounds, please! So, how do you do?, said Jackson to the little rabbit.

Jackson took the little red rabbit to his hole to offer food and drink. There he heard the story of the magpie goose, and what the red rabbit was looking for. -Damned magpie geese, thought Jackson, -they screw it all up. The little red rabbit told Jackson that this whole time he had been by himself in the forest the fear of dying had begun to catch up with him, especially because he knew little of how long before he went. -Listen, not to discourage you, but red rabbits are real scarce nowadays. I have only seen one in my lifetime, and I am old. Eh, don't look down, I mean, I see why you are upset, but, if it is of any comfort, my daughter, my lovely daughter Victoria happens to be a red rabbit. I mean, what are the odds she has the same affliction? It beats me, really. Now, this is the problem: she's currently staying with her mother elsewhere. Don't ask me why we don't live together anymore, I mean, this is not a sad tale, is it? Well, she should be back in about a year. Eh, I would tell you to go look for her, but we are not sure she is that you are looking for, and in case she happens to be it, if you mention to her she might die if you two don't do something about that problem of yours, which we by the way ignore how to solve, she'll be really scared, you understand. So, little rabbit, this is what we should do: you stay here all this time, I send some rabbits to look around for red rabbits elsewhere near, and we somehow attempt to investigate about the solution to your riddle, as well as trying to find that damned magpie goose so he helps us. What do you think?, asked Jackson with a raised eyebrow. Our rabbit thought he had already been gone from home a while, thought about his mother, his brothers and sisters and how worried they might be. However, he also thought about the fear that little by little crept in him because he did not want to die, at least not with the certainty that he was gonna die of this. So he accepted the offer and stayed with Jackson for a whole year.

The year went by as slowly as it can go for a rabbit. He help with chores both in Jackson's hole and around the place: he helped with the pyramidal piles of pebbles, with the collection of food and dandelions to ornament everything they considered needed ornamenting, with the search of a new scary sound, and with the usually pleasant activity of dancing before the Moon. He had quite a ton of laughs and exciting moments, he made new friends, he learnt many of all those tiny things to do to be happy. Nevertheless, his heart got weaker and weaker by the day, making it harder for him to run, to bite and chew sturdy food, to dance without a rest after two pieces, and to carry more than fifteen pebbles. Jackson took notice of it, hence he searched harder for other red rabbits and for any word on how to fix an incomplete cherry stemmed heart, but found nothing. He became so desperate once that one night he cried till the morning came. The little red rabbit heard him sobbing and tried to inquire why he was doing so, but Jackson only told him he missed his daughter. Yeah, he did miss his daughter, and yeah, he did feel afraid of his daughter sharing the red rabbit's condition. However, that which afflicted him most was seeing this little rabbit shrink little by little, seeing him and not being able to do squat for one he had begun to love that much.

The year was almost gone when the little red rabbit fell completely ill: he never left Jackson's hole, he barely got off bed, while Jackson looked out the window expecting to see his daughter coming to his hole very soon. One day, two gigantic maroon rabbits, bigger than Jackson even, showed up pulling a tiny cart made of sticks, followed by a procession of countless rabbits. They went straight to Jackson's hole, where they were received by its owner since he immediately ran out after noticing them. Every rabbit that came out of his hole knew what these processions usually meant, so they twitched while approaching the cart at Jackson's. The black rabbit got closer to the cart, and heard a soft weak voice, -Daddy, is it you? He bent over to pick her up, so devastated at the sight he could not even say yes. He walked to the closest chamber in the hole, where our red rabbit took rest. -Listen, here she is, my daughter, Victoria. Get up and say hello, said Jackson, but the little red rabbit did not move. -Listen, she is here, and now we know she is the one you are looking for we can do something. Get up and say hello please, said he, but the little red rabbit did not move. Jackson moved closer to the bed and saw our rabbit was still breathing. He placed Victoria next to him, and said, -Open your eyes and please say hello. The little rabbit did so. He first saw a reddish hue in front of him, hue which little by little seemed to be looking back at him because it had now eyes, and which now seemed to say hello since it had a mouth and a voice. And the same seemed to happen to Victoria. They more they looked at each other, the clearer things came. So, our little red rabbit was finally able to say, -Hi, I am another red rabbit.

So, obviously enough, because as Jackson said, -This is not a sad tale, they got well and healthy, and eventually the little red rabbit went home only to tell everyone what had happened and would happen, to then come back to Jackson's hole to look for Victoria because, well, as one of the ducks implied, this is a love story, and that our rabbit wanted most was to be next to the other red rabbit he knew besides him. Of course, she was waiting for him. She had always been, as he had been too.

And this is the still unfinished story of Sotavento, the red rabbit.

I believe epilogues suck, but this is something I have got to make clear: all they needed was to be next to each other for no matter how much a heart can drain, if one of its kind is there, it will fill it up endlessly.

-Aloysius, the magpie goose.

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