Security - Maxine Phoenix (2012)

            Fifteen years, seven months and twenty-one days ago, a rabbit-headed blanket was first opened from within yellow tissue paper. Its pale blue face and ears were velvet to the touch. Polka dots of yellow, blue, green and purple peered out from within the floppy ear canals. The fabric rolling down from its neck was of a thick, sturdy cloth and iridescent under certain fluorescent lighting. What seemed purple at first glance soon became streaked with silver, a rosy pink, blue, and pistachio-ice-cream-green blended into plaid. Written in yellow thread was your name, big and bold, stretching longer than two of your little hands. Big, black, plastic eyes reflected the world at the exact place and time: a warm hospital bed cradling an unfamiliar woman (with a familiar voice) who held you as you sucked in your first breath, purple splotched face flooding with red. You trembled, coughed and then shrieked.

            When you first learned to speak, you named it Bunny. Your mother laughs when she tells this story to you now, teasing you for your unoriginality and typical lack of subtlety.

            This rabbit is a constant in most of your first memories, pre-Kindergarten.  You took it everywhere with you. Dragging it over the threshold of unfamiliar houses on the East Coast, though gas station supermarkets littered with the remains of Pepsi bottles, across chalk-marked sidewalks and pavements that scorched your bare feet – you never let go of the rabbit’s plush ear. Pressing its blanket to your nose, you inhaled the smell of mother’s skin and fresh baby powder and Old Spice and grandma’s golden cigarettes and lazy summer days and lovely winter nights playing dinosaur monopoly, watching the last snowfall outside of your window. Bunny smelled like home. Everything good.

            The rabbit hardly left your sight. At night when you would sleep, layers of blankets enfolding you, its head lay next to yours. From pictures you can see it always in the same place: inside of your star-spangled cot in the Asbury St. house; on the right of the yellow pillow at the Wellesley house; sandwiched between Molly and Felix on your bed at the Ash St. house. Wherever you slept, Bunny slept. The periwinkle ears would be crushed under sweaters and size 6 navy blue mary-janes, then quickly zipped and stowed as you flew over the Atlantic towards your new home, 23 Redington Road, Nw37QX.

            Periodically, Bunny would disappear for days at a time. It would return, sitting on top of a stack of lemon-scented laundry. Indisputably. As you grabbed it, pressing the blanket to your face, you realized that, to your chagrin, the smell had diminished. Not evaporated completely, but almost nothing. But the strongest of detergent could only whisk away the woodchips, sand, tears, ketchup and toothpaste. Within the iridescent folds of both Bunny and your developing cerebrum, the smell hid to stay.

            But much has changed in those fifteen years, seven months and twenty days. (Inevitably.)

            Bunny’s eyes have lost their gleam and dulled into a dark, matte grey. Its ears and face have pilled up, and where the velvet once matched with the apparently female Blue in Blues Clues, the fabric is now a sad ivory. The blanket is full of missing seams and ragged edges and faded colors. (If held under the most particular of lights) what was once a rainbow, is now a conglomerate of purple, blue, salmon and green. Sloppy, though. Not much of a plaid anymore. Bunny’s edges are frayed, and loose threads dangle dangerously. The smallest snag could rip everything.

            The rabbit’s days are now spent on your bed, occasionally on the suede of your armchair. You don’t sleep beside it anymore, but on the coldest and saddest of nights, you reach and pull it towards you. You inhale and frown. Since you were about eleven or twelve, the smell has disappeared for good.

            The overwashed tag inside reads “-ECURITY BLANKE-” and, for you, it has been nothing short of one.