A Rabbit Hole

The best way for two mothers to find their purpose may be to walk a mile in eachother’s shoes.

Author: Vivian Chou

Vivian Chou is a science advocate by day and a science fiction/slipstream writer by night. Her work has appeared in Fusion Fragment, riddlebird, and Heartlines Spec, among others. She prefers to fuel her writing with naps, exercise, and dystopian dread, but usually manages with black coffee and chocolate.

Narrator: Hannah Knight

Hannah Knight is a full-time homemaker and recent entrant to the world of audio narration.

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I never wanted to be a rabbit.

This morning, Sarika and I are speed-walking the track at our kids’ elementary school with our vanilla soy lattes in hand. I’m planning last-minute details for tonight’s End Malodorous Flatulence gala. Our town has the highest pediatric lactose intolerance rate in the tri-state area.

“I’m having second thoughts about serving fake meat,” I say. “Maybe it’s better than beef, but do I really want to eat a bunch of chemicals? We don’t want people passing gas after digesting methylcellulose.”

One minute, I’m getting my step count in, and the next thing I know, big floppy ears sprout out of my head and fluffy fur covers my body. Sarika drops her coffee and screams in shock. Somehow, I’m transforming into a five-foot-four Eastern cottontail bunny. The school recess bell rings and the first-graders squeal with delight and mob me, mistaking me for Chuck E. Cheese. I am horrified and just hope my son Charlie is not one of the kids who sees me. Then, the school custodian calls pest control, so we book it to Sarika’s place.

“What kind of hell is this?” I sob. My fur feels soft and downy, but my breath comes in ragged gasps. I wonder I’m having a heart attack.

“Okay. Let’s be logical about this, Cora,” Sarika says, exhaling slowly. “Think through why this is happening. Did you use a new retinol cream last night? Put refined sugar in your latte instead of Stevia?”

I cover my face with my hands. “No! Nothing!” I look up and pause. “Just the intermittent fasting for the gala.”

“You look so cute with those little paws!” Sarika says, patting my head. “Sorry, I can’t help myself.”

“Slap me,” I say. “This has gotta be a dream.”

Sarika raises her hand and then drops it. “Nope, can’t do it. Too adorable. Maybe if you’d turned into a possum,” she says, grimacing.

“If I don’t show up to the fundraiser tonight,” I say, “Annalise Benson might not donate and without her, we’re toast. I promised her a Lifetime Donor Award with a special intro and all!”

Sarika is silent, then snaps her fingers. “You know what? I bet it was the microneedling facials we got last week that made you a rabbit. I swear mine gave me a pimple.” “It doesn’t matter why this happened,” I say. “I need to be human tonight.” Tears spring to my eyes. I should have just applied for a dental receptionist position instead of trying to be a stay-at-home-mom with a purpose. The purpose part is killing me.

We’re in Sarika’s bedroom and I’m trying on disguises instead of semi-formal attire for tonight. I model two trench coats, a puffed-sleeve sweater, and a striped poncho circa 2004. I tug

on Sarika’s husband’s roomy work boots, as my feet won’t fit into women’s shoes. Sunglasses and a giant hat complete the crazed lady look, but they don’t hide the fluffy fur of my face. “Let’s just say you had a run-in with Rogaine at the medi-spa,” Sarika says, frowning. “The aesthetician got some bottles mixed up?”

I stare into space, my nose vibrating, whiskers twitching. An intrusive desire for garden-fresh produce fuses with a sudden urge to hump something. I shake my head. I have more important things to worry about.


I collapse onto Sarika’s bed and stare at the ceiling. “You’re right,” I say. “We have to figure out why this happened so we can undo it.”

“What did you do differently of late?” Sarika said. “Don’t leave anything out.” “Nothing exciting. Last night, Charlie and I played Candyland after dinner. We read an Elephant and Piggie book, and I tucked him into bed. Then, I drank half a kombucha, read a mom blog, and bought a fanny pack, vitamin C serum, and rosemary essential oils linked on it. This morning, I went to the natural foods store in my gym clothes to buy spirulina protein powder for my green smoothie, but never got around to working out. Then I bought bananas at Save Mart.”

“You should really buy organic bananas,” Sarika says. “Save Mart is nasty. So, what else?”

“Before I met you at school, I pulled out some poison ivy in the flowerbed and tripped over a rabbit hole with a bunny in it.”

“Did you touch the rabbit? Maybe that did it.”

“No. I see bunnies in my yard all the time, but I’ve never turned into one. I always enjoy seeing them. It makes me feel like I belong, just another creature of the flora and fauna.” Sarika bites her lip. “I read this article on my feed today. It said modern humans are divorced from nature, but if we remember our roots, we can live the way nature intended. It’s a sign!”

My nose trembles involuntarily, and I sneeze. I wonder if I could be allergic to humans now.

“Maybe you have something there,” I say. “So, what products did the article link to? Elderberry cider? Tea tree oil?”

“Killer bee pollen and walrus placenta,” Sarika says. “The combination removes muffin-top fat and migrates it to your neck to smooth down lines.”

If I stay in rabbit form, perhaps I can break free from such vain minutiae. I could go into the forest and blend in with the other woodland creatures, meet a nice hare, have crazed rabbit sex, and pop out a litter. Never again would I see a webpage informing me: This site will link to sponsored posts for which we will earn a small commission. Didn’t nature grant me night vision to spy predators in the distance instead of scouring Amazon at one in the morning to buy jade rollers for lymphatic drainage?

But being a rabbit means I won’t be a mom to Charlie, and that would kill me. I couldn’t snuggle him on the couch while watching Pokémon or see him bop to Freeze Dance at the Kindergarten Jamboree. If I show up to our house in my present form, he’ll think I’m the Easter Bunny and then what - I literally have to be the Tooth Fairy too?

“Let’s go to your house and find the rabbit hole,” Sarika says.

I feel like an oaf standing over the flowerbed as Sarika peers amongst the ferns with the flashlight on her phone.

Sarika grunts, her head under a tangle of leaves. “I don’t see the rabbit hole. You think the bunny still lives here?”

I stick my head at ground level and look underneath the bramble. I can see things with such clarity in the dark: earthworms, fertilizer pellets, tiny worker ants.

From the recesses of an azalea bush, my human form emerges, yoga wear and all, just eight inches high. I recoil in horror but also feel a spark of hope. Maybe we can help each other? “Greetings. I am Nia.” The rabbit-sized version of me looks up, craning her neck. “I thought you might show up. This rabbit hole’s been a proverbial nightmare. Tanya, the previous rabbit who lived here, said she became a leaf-blower during her pregnancy. Do you know how stressful that must’ve been?”

“I’m Cora,” I say. “How can you speak English, if you’re a rabbit inside?” Nia waves her hand at me. “We can speak Rabbit if you like, but you’ll find it’s quite an atonal language.”

I grunt several times and prick my ears forward. She wasn’t lying.

“Aren’t you cold without your fur?” I ask in English, instead.

“I’m okay,” Nia says. “But I had a hell of a time digging into my burrow with these tiny hands.”

“What do we do to reverse this?” I ask. “Should I get into the rabbit hole with you? Do we shake paws?”

“No,” Nia says. “I’m told it will pass. Tanya said the burrow sensed her longing. She always hated how the leaves clogged up her home.”

“Holy shit,” Sarika says. “That settles it. I’m hiring a landscaper.”

I heard Nia speaking, but honestly, I’m distracted by her tiny waist. Her forehead wrinkles have all but disappeared. Maybe I’ll get something out of this, after all. “After our yearning resolves, we return to our previous selves,” Nia says.


“Why, Bunny? I mean, Nia?” I say. “Why do you want to be human?”

“I birthed my first litter at two months and had fourteen kits this spring. Every day, I see you walking by, then working, planning, typing on your computer in the house. What I wouldn’t give to have the luxury of your leisure time, your technology, your sophistication, your purpose. There must be more to my life than just giving birth and a quick death by coyote.”

Honestly, I’m speechless. Who thought anyone would desire my rudderless existence? “Funny, I always envied your natural instincts,” I say. “I don’t know how or what to be.” “My nature is to be, and to breed,” Nia says.

“My son Charlie always wanted a little brother,” I say. “But my shop is closed for business.”

“Oh,” Nia says. “Isn’t that sad, only having just one baby?”

“I can’t really afford more than one,” I say. “Kids are expensive in the human world.” Nia raises her eyebrows and I wonder if she’s judging me. Perhaps she doesn’t comprehend the financial burden of travel baseball leagues and student loan debt. “Do your children visit at all?” I ask. “Do you have grandkids yet?”

“That’s not baked into rabbit culture,” Nia says. “I’m sure I have grandkids somewhere by now. But my job is to raise my kits to maturity and do the best job I can when they’re with me. After that, it’s up to Nature.”

“That must be sad for you,” I say.

Nia shrugs. “A Cooper’s hawk devoured my first son right after he left my nest. My entire second litter died in the great flood of June.”

I stare at Nia, aching for her loss. “Come with us tonight. The gala will be your purpose.” “Girlfriend here,” Sarika says, pointing to Nia, “Is the size of a bag of cauliflower rice. How are we going to explain that to the board?”

“I’m the president of the fundraising committee,” I say, standing tall on my haunches. “They’ll deal.”

We show up to the gala, me in my naked rabbit glory, and Nia, dressed in a princess outfit borrowed from Sarika’s chihuahua. I carry in Nia and pray to pass myself off as a hyper-realistic character for a future End Flatulence mascot.

“I’ll claim seats for us at a table,” Sarika says. “Break a leg out there.”

In the women’s restroom, Nia and I wash our hands and paws at the sink. A tall brunette woman in a furry chinchilla vest reapplies her lip gloss in front of the mirror. I gag involuntarily at the sight of her murderous attire.


The woman casts a sidelong glance at us, pauses, then rummages in her snakeskin clutch purse, removing a business card. She presses it into my paws. “Doctor Avagyan is the best hirsutism specialist in the city. He lasered my niece’s mustache in time for her twelfth half-birthday. Tell him Daniela sent you.”

“Fabulous,” I say. Nia and I exchange incredulous glances.

The nerve of some people.

I’m supposed to meet the secretary, Emily Fitch, before the speech. We find her at the open bar.

“Emily, let me explain - ” I say, forgetting I’m not me.

Emily stares at tiny Nia, held in my paws. Her eyes grow wide as cabbages, mouth slack. “What. In the name of. Jesus H. - ” she says.

Nia raises her hand. “This is Fluffy, who’s on the Easter party, birthday party, and cosplay circuit. I thought she could be the mascot for End Malodorous Flatulence and make it more accessible. A giant cow would be too on-the-nose and potentially triggering for the lactose-intolerant.”

“Cow,” Emily says in shock, eyebrows raised but forehead skin unwrinkled. “Cow too big.”

“As for me,” Nia continues, “I had a run-in with the cryotherapy machine today after seventy-two hours of intermittent fasting.”

Emily rubs her eyes and coughs. “Will you still be able to deliver your speech tonight? Annalise Benson requested you specifically to present her with her award.” “Of course.” Nia puts her nose in the air.

“We at End Malodorous Flatulence do not discriminate on the basis of stature or post-cryotherapy malpractice,” Emily says. She leans in closer to us. “On my own self-care journey, I once lost consciousness after a CBD-oil and manuka honey Ayurvedic massage. Apparently, it’s like mixing bleach and ammonia.”

“I do not understand your cultural rituals. But thank you for your understanding,” Nia says, bowing her head slightly.

“No problem,” Emily says. “But if you ever need one, I’ve got a great endocrinologist who prescribes my son’s growth hormone. Jack’s shooting for a basketball scholarship to a D-3 university, and he’s only six-five.”

The banquet hall fills up as sequined women and a few men seat themselves at circular tables. The buzz of anticipation and cocktail chatter fills the room.

I stand with Nia at the edge of the stage, quivering.

“I’m nervous,” I say. “What if they boo us off the stage? Or worse, bully us online and we go viral? Who’s going to take us seriously? These people threw Lauren Nguyen off the board last year because she didn’t keep up with her butt-collagen injections.”

“We’ll do the speech like we practiced,” Nia says. “All we can do is try. We are not just mothers. We have a purpose!”

We step up to the podium together and I anticipate a collective scream of horror and shock. But instead, I hear dead silence, which is much worse.

I set Nia down on the top of the podium and attempt a wide smile. My cheeks don’t move.

“Don’t bother,” Nia hisses. “You look rabid showing your teeth like that.” I take a deep breath and try to settle down.

“Before we get started,” Nia says into the microphone, “I just wanted to address the elephant-sized rabbit in the room.” A few scattered chuckles pepper the audience. “I had an issue with a cryotherapy glitch and an intensive intermittent fasting schedule, hence my diminutive stature tonight. And this is Fluffy, our new mascot.”

I wave my paws and my nose twitches. I lower my ears down around my face, shooting for the cute puppy-dog-bunny vibe.

A hushed awwwww ripples through the crowd.

Nia says, “I’d like to thank Annalise Benson for her generosity in funding research to help our kids.” She pushes buttons on the remote control for the slideshow, displaying a montage of the cute children affected by the plague of flatulence. I queue the music and the award ceremony rolls on.

After our speech, Annalise comes to our table and gives Nia a handshake with her thumb and index finger.

“That was beautiful,” Annalise says. “You can count on my donation doubling this year.” I beam with pride. At dinner, Nia tastes the plant-based meat with interest. She watches music videos on Sarika’s phone, absorbs our chatter about next year’s fundraising goals, and caps it off by nibbling on the vegan chocolate ice cream. I have a hard time cutting my portobello mushroom steak with my giant paws, so I chew on some arugula leaves and lap up Diet Coke from a saucer.

“Excuse me,” Nia says, and heads toward the women’s restroom.

A wave of hormones flushes over me. All I want to do is lie down in a patch of grass, meet a nice buck, and get to baby-making. Summer will be over soon, and I’m wasting time here talking about cow’s milk? Why do humans drink cow’s breastmilk their whole lives, anyway? Why don’t they just drink human breastmilk? It’s pretty disgusting once I think about it. What am I even doing here? I miss Charlie. I haven’t seen him all day.

“I think that went pretty well,” Sarika says,” considering the circumstances.” “Yes,” I say, looking down at my furry body with affection.

Nia returns from the bathroom, clutching her abdomen. “I need some grass. Like, now.”

In the parking lot, Nia and I begin to separate, our molecules sifting out and bouncing back from whence they came. I drive us home, and she hops around on the bucket seat, trying not to poop.

“That was fun,” Nia says, as I carry her to her rabbit hole. “But I’ll take a pass on human life. Your food tastes like the plastic grass I ate once out of an Easter basket in the trash.” “Sorry about that,” I say. “Hope your tummy feels better.”

I wait until the last of my fur disappears and head into the house.

I can’t wait to see Charlie.