A few months ago I was driving around the M25 near the M4. Some parts of the motorway there have a very wide central reservation, and I noticed something sitting there. As we drew closer I could see that it was a stuffed bunny, sitting upright, ears flopped over. My husband spotted it at the same time, and both of us had the same thought – that poor kid.
Something which has been lost in the middle of the motorway may as well be on the moon, it’s far too dangerous to stop and fetch it. I could imagine the scene – two kids in the back of a car, bored with the journey and starting to squabble. Maybe the older one snatched the little one’s bunny to tease them, holding it high over their heads while the little one wriggled. Perhaps there were two older ones teasing a younger sibling, throwing the bunny over his or her head. Perhaps someone just threw a tiny bit too hard, and Bunny went sailing out of the sun roof or out of the open window, lost forever. There will have been tears, shouting from the parents, a feeling of creeping horror from the kid who threw it, all while they sped along in the fast lane, leaving Bunny far behind.
The following week we made the same trip, and Bunny was still sitting there, looking dejected. I couldn’t help but wonder what we would have done if one of our kids had lost their special toy like that. They would have been devastated. For the rest of our journey we discussed ways in which we would attempt to rescue Bunny if he had belonged to us. All of these would have been dangerous, and frankly, not very legal, but it’s amazing what a parent will do sometimes to keep their children happy.
On our most recent trip, Bunny had gone! So the question was, how? Had the parent been able to sneak along side him in the dead of night and scoop him up from an open door like something from Mission Impossible? Had someone been able to rescue him during one of the occasional nose-to-tail traffic jams which bring that part of the motorway to a standstill? Or had Bunny, in the dead of night, picked himself up like a character from Toy Story, and weaved his way across the carriageway to safety, and from there towards home? At this point, is Bunny fighting his way across a field of weasels? I like to think so.
It’s one of those little details which I’ll store away, and one day, drag it up to use in a short story or as a descriptive filler which shows what the character is really like. Alternatively, if the story keeps coming back to me, maybe I’ll make it into something bigger – use it as the seed from which I can grow a bigger story. That’s one of the brilliant things about being a writer – a tiny action, a glimpse of something unexpected, a snatch of overheard conversation – any of these things can get you thinking, and who knows where that story might lead you.
What do you think happened to Bunny? Where would you take the story?