Sure, I’ve killed before.
One memory that stands out was stepping on my brother’s hamster when I was 5. I was chasing him while he was dragging the hamster in a gunny sack across the floor — best described in two words — Oops and yuck…
And there was the bird who got to continue feeling the wind beneath its wings a good month or two after it got stuck in the grill of my car because I was oblivious it was there.
Oh, and there were the craw-daddies that my friends and I caught and cooked over a fire for no good reason during long, aimless summer days playing in the creek.
And of course, there have been others.
But last Sunday as two kids and I, held soft, quivering baby bunnies in our cupped hands, I felt that familiar guilt washing over me.
And I cringed as I heard “Ewww, there’s a leg!” or “Man, how did that get stuck all the way up there?”
That’s right, we were walking a grid and conducting an inventory of bunny chunks.
And the boys, true to teen-form, were playing a macabre game of connect the dots — chivalry only surfacing long enough to divert their lone female companion away from the carnage before they continued their inventory, rubbing my nose in it every step of the way.
The aftermath was such that I might have assuaged my guilt by pretending suicide bunny bombers had risen up, striking back at my chopping machine by detonating their explosive-laden vests as I went by.
But alas, no. It was my doing, all mine.
And I didn’t just run over the burrow once.
Oh no, I drove over it, then backed over it, then turned around and headed for it again, stopping only when I heard a squeal and saw two babies scurrying for cover.
I screeched to a stop and killed the blades, climbing down to find one very terrified baby left shaking in the hole, and eventually found the other two hiding nearby.
In the past I have talked of a high-speed wildlife exodus in front of my mower and assumed there had been casualties. But with the exception of one plump toad who literally hopped into my blades while I was parked in the middle of the yard, I had never actually seen bodies — until Sunday.
I felt so bad, in fact, that I didn’t even argue as the bunnies, transported by a convoy of Chuck Taylors and Sketchers, made their way into the house and a cage was pulled from the shelf.
And as the discussion of what to feed them unfolded, I found myself carrying my guilt with me to the barn in search of hay for bedding.
A week later, I’ve come to terms with my guilt except for the few times I have pictured the bunny chunks in those brief moments before deep sleep overtakes me.
And the bunnies are as cute as ever. If they remember that day at all, they hopefully think their sibling (or siblings — it was impossible to tell) were abducted by aliens and sucked into the great burrow in the sky.
But hopefully, even if only on some instinctual level, when they are returned to the wild they will take with them the knowledge that unless you’re playing football, the last place you want to be is on the top of the pile.
Sharna Johnson is a staff writer for Freedom New Mexico. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org