BY TOM JENKS

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The rabbit lived in a balsa wood hutch painted to look like an Alpine chalet, with green grass, yellow flowers and white flowers, and white snow on a red roof. 

It slept on hay and shredded cardboard. 

It ate alfalfa, celery and vegetables supplemented with pellets. 

It drank from a bottle secured to the side of the hutch with silver clips. 

It is a common misconception that rabbits eat carrots, but rabbits don't naturally eat root vegetables. 

Carrots are high in sugar and should be a rare treat.

A wild rabbit will live for one or two years, but a well-cared for indoor rabbit can live for between seven and ten years. 

She ensured that the rabbit was plentifully supplied with alfalfa, assorted vegetables and pellets and that its bottle was regularly replenished with water. 

The rabbit was a black rabbit, with intermittent white patches. 

The rabbit was crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.

In the evenings, she played her cassettes and taught herself origami. 

She wrote in her journal in inks of various colours and talked to the rabbit. 

She shared her ambition to re-invigorate the discipline of figurative painting and exhibit in European cities such as Oslo. 

She confided her doubts about whether she was equipped for the task and her fear of failure. 

She shared her fears of insanity and of the rain turning her transparent.

She shared her fear of being shattered by the wind into countless irretrievable fragments. 

The rabbit looked at her with unblinking brown eyes and twitched its small, pink nose. 

She made the rabbit a miniature television set using a matchbox, matches, tin foil and Clingfilm.

They called her downstairs one day, into the living room stiff with pale sunlight and antimacassars. 

They played a tape recording of her talking to the rabbit. 

The recording was taken through the party wall and was indistinct, meaning that a verbatim transcript was not available. 

They were pleased she had taken so much to the rabbit. 

The rabbit was good for her and had already proved a sound investment. 

They had noticed an improvement in her mood and general demeanour and that she now performed her chores with alacrity.

They had noticed that it used to take her some time to stack the cups correctly and that she would often forget to feed the freshwater fish.

But now the cups were stacked correctly in seconds and the fish were fighting fit. 

You could see that immediately by the flaming orange tails of the guppies and the glistening black eyes of the tetras.

But they were worried about her talking to the rabbit.

They were more worried about other people hearing her talking to the rabbit.

People walking past on a warm evening when the windows were thrown open with abandon.

Or on warm mornings when they had been left open overnight for ventilation to guard against stale air, which allows moisture to linger and collect on windows and walls and encourages allergens and other particles.

They might not even realise that there was a rabbit and think that she was talking to herself. 

People thinking that she was talking to the rabbit was bad.

People thinking she was talking to herself rather than the rabbit was worse. 

They might think she was replaying conversations in her head or letting her mind drift. 

They might think she was getting lost in her thoughts or quoting the bible, which is a sign of mental illness. 

In some versions of the story, the rabbit dies after being drugged and cast into a deep drift of snow to freeze.

Or having its neck snapped like a dry stick.

Or being bludgeoned cruelly with an implement. 

In some versions of the story, the girl keeps the body of the rabbit in the refrigerator.

Or in a secret drawer.

Or in a locked casket the key to which she has swallowed. 

In some versions of the story, the rabbit is skinned and then cooked with hay, alfalfa and assorted vegetables and served to the girl in a terrible stew which she is forced to eat, then becoming insane or herself dying. 

Or the girl is magically transfigured and leaps through the window in one mighty bound to live as a rabbit amongst other rabbits in the greenbelt. 

But this is not those versions of the story about the rabbit. 

This is another version of the story about another rabbit, entirely.

She began to talk more quietly to the rabbit having first made sure that the windows were closed. 

She turned up the volume on the rabbit’s miniature television set. 

She talked to the rabbit about the intricate canvases she would paint. 

She would paint a version of Richard Dadd’s “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke," but populated by rabbits. 

It would be exhibited in Olso, also Amsterdam and Copenhagen. 

It would be accompanied by other canvases, the nature of which had yet to be decided.

She lived in a high, white apartment above a river in a European city where it often snowed. 

She painted intricate canvases in which, somewhere, there was always a rabbit, however small.

She kept alfalfa in an American refrigerator which dispensed cold water on demand. 

People looked for rabbits in her painting and sometimes found rabbits where there weren’t actually rabbits. 

They would see a rabbit at the top right when in fact the rabbit was at the bottom left.

Or the rabbit was behind a tree or disguised as another animal. 

She didn't mind these errors, because art is a participative process in which meaning emerges collaboratively.

When she became famous, journalists asked her about rabbits. 

One said she had read that people looked for rabbits in her paintings and found rabbits where there weren’t actually rabbits.

She said that art is a participative process in which meaning emerges collaboratively.

Another said that the rabbit was his spirit animal. 

He worked for a lifestyle magazine that provided a mix of exclusive interviews, reviews of the latest cars and restaurants and features on interior design, travel, art and business.

He said that he had the silhouette of a rabbit tattooed between his shoulder blades. 

He said that the rabbit was traditionally associated with sentiment, desire, fertility and procreation. 

He said that he had five children, but they weren't with him on this trip.

She wrote a book detailing her personal history and how it informed her creative processes. 

The book contained shamanic diagrams in which rabbits represented higher levels of consciousness suffused with light.

She described her upbringing and how having a rabbit had been a great consolation.

She described her fears and the strategies she had used to control them. 

She described the zigzag scars on her arms, concealed beneath layers.

She said that rabbit had listened to her problems non-judgementally. 

The rabbit said that silence doesn't always mean agreement. 

The rabbit said that people should take responsibility for their own problems.

The rabbit said she was fat and old now. 

The rabbit said that no-one wanted to hear a fat and old person talking about the zigzag scars on their arms. 

Literally no-one wanted to hear about that.

The rabbit asked how many consecutive days someone can listen to Lana Del Rey before it was considered a pathology.

The rabbit said that making a prison look like an Alpine chalet does not make it any less of a prison.

Across the snowy river were black, jagged mountains.

The rabbit said that she had never given it carrots.

Never.

Tom Jenks has published thirteen books, the most recent of which is Crabtree: The Libretto (The Red Ceilings, 2016). A book of short prose is forthcoming from if p then q press in 2018. He edits the avant objects publishing house zimZalla. Twitter @zimZalla