Thump, thump, thump. The Rabbit was back.
Agnes felt a jolt of excitement. She jumped to her feet, and the baby table stood up with her. She looked about the house, taking in the clean, calm ambiance. “Come on, tables,” she called softly. “We have a visitor.”
She heard creaking and soft tablesteps, and knew they would follow her. “Crackers for everyone this evening,” she promised. The baby table leaned against her leg, and she patted it.
“Bird?” the Rabbit called as he hopped up the stairs. “Bird, are you ready to hear the news?”
Agnes felt sheepish standing there when the Rabbit finally rested at the top of the stairs, twitching his nose and blinking his watery red eyes. She petted the baby table, which bumped her and shifted its feet. The other tables stood up straighter behind her, like an army. No, not like an army–like a group of friends. “Hello, Rabbit,” Agnes said.
“Bird! The news has come to you, but first–the house looks new!” He hopped in a circle, taking it all in. He turned back to her. “Your house is a good place,” he told her. “A good place to stay.”
Agnes shivered with delight. “You think so?” She smiled down at the baby table. “We’ve had a good time.” She kind of hoped the Rabbit would hug her, or pet the table, or tell her he had brought more crackers. It would be nice to have a friend visit the house, now that the house was tame and beautiful, and she loved the house–
–“Well, Bird,” the Rabbit was saying, “the news is that…” he stared through her for a moment, twitching his whiskers. “Bird, could you… would you be interested in having… a few of us other birds staying here for a while?” He met her gaze.
The baby table creaked and stepped towards the Rabbit.
Agnes blinked slowly. “What?” she asked, the words feeling slow falling out of her mouth.
There was a sigh. “Bird, I’d had good news, before, to be sure, sure, but no more. No, no more. I’d been going to take you to the Barrows to play, but the Birds were–it became unsafe today.”
Agnes had spent so long being angry and alone, and then had rapidly tried to change tracks. She had loved the house, the table, the Rabbit, but was it all in theory? Because how could she let lots of others in all at once, into the place she loved–
–How could she not?
“Of course,” she found herself saying. “The tables and I would be happy to.”
The Rabbit quivered. “Thank you, Bird,” he said. “Not that absurd, no, not that absurd. Soon it will be safe again, and we will go to the Barrows, and you will dance with all of the rabbits.”
“Rabbit,” Agnes said in surprise, “you’re rhyming less. And you called yourself a rabbit.”
His ears drooped. “These are dangerous times.” He looked so sad as he reached to stroke the baby table. Agnes swallowed.
“We can all dance here,” she told him. And it felt a little bit wrong. Like the world was shattering. Maybe because the world of the rabbits did seem to be shattering.