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White Rabbits by: Debbie Cybill
SAMANTHA was excited. Tonight was Halloween and she was with her mother at the supermarket buying candy to give away to other children when they came trick or treating. She would miss that, of course, for she would be out herself visiting neighbours houses and collecting a huge bag of candy. But just buying treats for others was exciting in itself.
Samantha was just five years old, a bit of a tomboy. She raced up and down the aisles, almost bumping into shoppers or knocking heaps of goods over, but always somehow missing them. Then she whipped around the corner and started down the next aisle. This time she bumped into an old woman. Both of them fell to the ground. Samantha struggled to her feet. The old woman seemed to grow in size, as a black-clad massive person. Samantha was scared, but scary was the very essence of Halloween, so she enjoyed being scared.
"If you are going to rush around like a boy, perhaps you should be a boy."
The delicious scary feeling changed its tone. The scare was less pleasant now.
The gigantic black-clad woman, who seemed to reach the ceiling, reached out an arm and touched Samantha on the forehead.
"I hope you enjoy being a boy, Sam."
"No, Im not a boy, Im a girl. I like being a girl."
"Look at yourself, Sam. You are a boy."
"I dont want to be a boy. Im sorry I knocked you over. Please change me back into a girl. Please, please, please!"
"You will change back tomorrow if the first words you say on waking up are White rabbits. And if you forget, then you may say White rabbits as the first thing you say aloud on the first day of any month."
With that the old witch just disappeared.
Sam raced around the neighbourhood all evening, collecting candy and forgetting that he was a boy now. It did not really feel much different, and his costume of a vampire had no reminders of gender.
He fell into bed exhausted that night. He woke in the morning to hear his mother say, "You must have slept heavily after all the excitement yesterday, Sam."
"I had a funny dream, mom. I dreamt that a witch turned me into a boy."
"That was no dream, son. You used to be my daughter, now you are my son."
"Oh, mom, what shall I do? I hate being a boy. Oh no! I should have said, White rabbits, first thing this morning."
"Never mind dear, you will just have to be my son for another month. Wont you like that?"
"No way. Im a girl. I dont like this boys body."
The month passed with Sam rushing around as usual, climbing small trees (he was too young to climb large ones), jumping in all the puddles.
The end of November came round and tomorrow he really must remember to say, "White rabbits," as soon as he woke up.
The next morning he woke up full of excitement (as usual). "This is Billys birthday and I am going to his party this afternoon. Oh dear. I should have said, White rabbits, first."
Now he had to go through another month as a boy. Billys birthday party was fun, with a clown and ice cream. He was a little disappointed at Christmas: all his Christmas presents were boys things. A toy train. A new pair of trousers. A couple of action figures. No doll, no dress. Still, it was only a week to New Years Day, when he could try again.
"Wake up, Sam. Its a lovely day and today is the first day of the year. Have you made your New Year Resolution yet?"
"Yes, Mum. I resolved to go back to being a girl. Oh, no. I missed again. I should have said, White rabbits."
That year Sam entered school. As a boy he was small for his age, always the last to be picked for team games.
"You throw a ball like a girl," they said.
He wanted to say, "Thats because I really am a girl," but he kept quiet, because he realized what the effect of that pronouncement would be. Somehow, he missed every first day of every month.
He buried himself in his studies and won good grades.
In High School it was just as bad. He had totally forgotten about "White rabbits" by now. He was no jock and obtained the reputation of a nerd. He did, however, retain one activity of his childhood. He loved running along woodland trails and even climbing trees. This kept him fit and was his only form of exercise. But this was no use in the task of finding a girl friend.
His grades were good enough to win him a full fee scholarship to Toronto University, where he majored in environmental studies.
In his second year (which in the USA is called the sophomore year) at last he found a girl friend. Marjory, another environmental scientist, who also loved the bush and hiking. Their relationship ripened and they spent almost every weekend out in the north country, hiking along trails through the bush..
That summer, at the end of his second year, Sam obtained a job as a forest worker, wielding a chain saw, out in the bush that he loved. Marjory, too, had a summer job in the bush, as a tree planter, planting seedlings in the areas that had been logged over by the lumber companies. Unfortunately, they were employed in different provinces and were never able to meet for the whole summer.
Their reunion in September was ecstatic. Sam took Marjory in his arms in a great hug and kissed her. Her lips opened and his tongue found hers. That night their coupling was long and loud.
"For Halloween weekend lets take a tent and hike along the Heather Lake trail in the bush near Kirkwood Lake. Heather Lake, itself is quite beautiful, and the trail is a tough one with lots of rocks and sloughs to cross."
This was a tougher hike than any they had taken before. It was almost 20 kilometres from trailhead to the lake where they could camp, and there were no facilities to be found there, not even a proper campground.
"I have never been there, Sam. We shall need to make our own campsite I suppose and take in everything we need."
"Yes, and bring out all our garbage too. Remember the old saying: Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints."
On Friday evening the thirtieth of October, as soon as they had finished their last class of the day, they drove in Marjorys old mustang out to the trailhead about 10 kilometres from Kirkwood Lake, an old gold mining town in northern Ontario. They enjoyed the drive, through the autumnal scenery. Many of the leaves had dropped, but enough remained to paint the forest red and the lonely road up north cut through stands of maple, still scarlet, even this late in the year, and stands of pine.
They made camp at the site next to the trailhead, along with just three other groups of campers. Their tiny tent, no more than three feet high at the peak, was the smallest there, and barely big enough for the two of them. They had to snuggle close, but that was no hardship.
The next morning early, Halloween, they packed up their tent, double sleeping bag, food and cooking gear, stuffing everything into their back packs. Off the set along the trail, solitary on this autumn day, no one else to be seen. This was just what they both enjoyed. The trail was tougher than they expected, with rocks, fallen trees and sloughs impeding their progress. In the mud near one of the sloughs they saw the footprints of deer and bear.
"Whats that plant with palmate leaves," asked Marjory.
"I think thats ginseng. Did you know that most of the ginseng used in China grows in Canada? The Native peoples come into the forest, dig it up and sell the roots to Chinese merchants who go around the reservations buying it up."
"Look, theres a moose," exclaimed Marjory.
It took Sam a moment or two to make it out.
"Wed better get out of here. There may be hunters around; its moose hunting season until next weekend. We dont want to get shot."
But they heard no shot nor any sign that hunters were in their neighbourhood.
"Theres a wolverine, Marjory."
"I see it."
They struggled through a patch of tag alder and saw a pair of willow grouse.
"If it doesnt get any easier I dont think we shall make it before nightfall, Marjory. We may have to set up camp wherever we find a patch of level dry ground."
But just then the tag alder ended and they were in the clear again, with reed swamp on one side and spruce on the other.
"I see a glint of water ahead, Sam. Do you think it is Heather Lake?
The beautiful lake opened up in front of them, the pines and larch reflected in the calm waters. They were able to find a patch of level ground near the edge of the lake, not too far from a streamlet that would supply them with water for drinking, washing and cooking. The first chore, after satisfying their thirsts, was to make a tripod from young ash trunks. This was to secure their food out of the reach of bears, wolverines and other predators or scavengers.
They set up the tent with their sleeping bag and then set about making a cooking fire from dropped dry branches. Night had fallen by now and the full moon was shining down upon them. Away from the light of the fire they could see a myriad of stars, but sitting near the fire, while they cooked their steaks and potatoes, the stars were lost in the firelight. It was an idyllic evening for the two lovers. There is nothing as romantic as a campfire on a perfect night.
Tired after a tough days hike, they retired early to bed without making love at all. It must have been about midnight when Marjory woke Sam up and started stroking his prick. In their sleeping bag there was no way she could go down on him, but soon their cuddles turned to foreplay and then to love-making. Three hours later they fell asleep again and did not re-awaken until daylight, about six thirty at this time of year.
Sam crawled out of the tent on his hands and knees, trying not to awaken Marjory. He heeded to pee and walked slowly away into the bush, so as not to foul the campsite. He was nude and shivering in the morning cold. Then he saw something he had never seen before. A white rabbit was humping another.
"White rabbits," he exclaimed, without thinking.
He felt for his penis, but it was not there. He looked around. Everything seemed much bigger. Still he could not find his penis. Instead he found a slit. He started to pee, but it ran down his leg. He crouched down. This time he was able to let go without wetting himself. As he was wiping himself a faint memory of his childhood came back to him: "If you say, White rabbits, first thing on the first day of the month you will be changed back."
But changed back into what? He examined himself in more detail. Then he remembered when that had been said to him. He was five years old and a girl. Had he been changed back into a five year old girl?
He ran back to the tent, his tiny bare feet hurting on the rough ground.
"Hello, Samantha. Does that feel better?"
Evidently Marjorys perception of him had changed too as he had become a little girl. She now knew him as Samantha.
He crept into the tent and rummaged for his clothes. Instead of his jockey shorts he found a pair of pink panties printed with pussycats. No trousers, just a couple of thick woolen skirts. A tee shirt printed, like his panties, with a great pussycat. His parka was no longer a dull jungle olive green, but pink with applique teddy bears.
"Get dressed, Samantha dear, and see if there is any life in the fire. If not I shall need to st art a new one."
Under the ashes Samantha found a glowing coal, placed some dry grass on top and then a few twigs. A few puffs of breath soon led to flames and Samantha had a morning fire. Small logs were added. How heavy they seemed to her as she put them on the fire.
"Now come away from that fire. I dont want you to burn yourself. I will make us some breakfast, dear."
They ate their bacon and eggs with stale bread, fried in the bacon fat. A draught of water from the stream was all they had to drink.
Marjory packed most of their belongings into her back pack. A few things had to be left behind, and she threw them on the fire, then shovelled soil over the fire for safety.
"Now, how do we get you back to the car? Im not going to carry you. I just hope our trail through the tag alder is open still."
The trail was even tougher for a five year old girl than it had been for a 22 year old man. For one thing, she had no proper hiking boots. The witch had just left her with Mary Janes, and those are not much use for hiking. Still, she had nothing else and she struggled along behind Marjory. She skipped along at first, but this was soon tiring. Besides, at this point they entered the tag alder thicket. Fortunately, the trail they had broken through the thicket was still open and they did not need to force a new trail through it. Still, it was hard going for a little girl. She plodded steadily along behind Marjory.
"Dont lag behind so much, dear. We shall never make it back to the car at this rate."
She urged Samantha along. About noon they sat down for a few minutes to have a bite to eat, just a granola bar and a sip of water. On they trudged. Samanthas feet were hurting by now and finally Marjory picked her up and carried her for about a mile.
"You must be rested by now, darling. I cant carry you any farther. We must get on and get out of the forest before dark."
The child and the woman found it impossible. Ultimately, Marjory decided to pitch camp and found a level dry spot not too far from a rill that would supply them with water.
They were short of food, not having expected to stay out this extra night, so Marjory fed the child and made do with what was left. They built up a large fire since the night was colder than the previous one. About midnight the wind blew up. A flying spark from the fire landed in a heap of fallen leaves. Soon a tree was ablaze. This was the moment when Marjory woke up. Samantha was terrified by the smoke and flames and they were forced to retreat along the way they had come, abandoning their tent but saving their other possessions. Their way out was cut off. The fire spread toward the road and now covered over 200 acres. They were now stranded without either food or shelter.
"I know it sounds stupid, Samantha, but I think we need to start another fire just to keep warm."
"OK, mommy. Ill gather some kindling and wood."
"Good girl, Samantha."
They cuddled together next to the fire. When daylight came they found a rill from which to drink but Marjory was in despair. How would they ever get back to their car? A trampling through the wood drew near, and Marjory was terrified that this was a bear. But no! It was the first of a team of firefighters. They were saved.
He radioed back to base and soon an all terrain vehicle rolled up. The driver offered Samantha and Marjory trail bars, enough to satisfy their hunger. The ATV could only take one passenger at a time, so the driver sat Samantha on the rear saddle and drove her out of the bush to the fire base, then returned for Marjory.
"Wheres your car, maam?"
Her car was destroyed in the blaze. If it had been two adults they would have been left to their own resources to find their way back to Toronto, but the presence of a small child ensured that the police would take them home in a patrol car. So Marjory and Samantha arrived home in style.
It was only when they arrived home and Samantha saw the house that she realized that she had come full circle. This was the house in which she had lived as a child. And Marjory had become her mother.
Back to square one.
The pretty little Samantha was not going to make the same mistake this time round. She loved her pretty clothes. She was anticipating growing up as a girl, to be a teenager, to wearing her first bra, her first prom dress, to wearing makeup for the first time, even to having her first period.
And she was living with the woman she loved, her mother.
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