The Blessing of the Hare Spirit
the Night Two Girls Caught the Dog Star
“Tag! You’re it!” Madeleine shouted, and squealing in fretful glee she turned tail and ran, her sister Sarah hot on her heels. The two bounded up the steps like grasshoppers, the stomping and giggling making the railing rattle, and zigzagging their way down the hall and to their bedroom, Madeleine made a giddy leap towards her bed as Sarah sprang from behind her, screaming “RAWR!” at the top of her lungs, and together the two tumbled into the sheets, laughing. A moment of pillow slapping commenced before at last little Madeleine collapsed onto her bedspread, smiling from ear to ear, gasping.
Sarah sidled up next to her sister, also panting, “Maddie, have you ever heard of the Hare Spirit?”
Madeleine scarcely heard her sister, still breathless and giggly.
“The what? Sure!” she said, and laughed, “The big bunny that comes for Easter, and gives me all the chocolate – !”
“No, not that!” Sarah barked, “The Hare Spirit. You haven’t heard of it.”
“I have too!” Madeleine exclaimed, sitting up abruptly.
“Oh yeah?” Sarah fleered, “Well what is it then?”
Madeleine sat, silent for a bit, truly pondering, biting her lower lip, thinking… “Well,” she started, timid, “it’s a rabbit…?”
Sarah leapt up, kneeling upon the bed, her eyes rapt in wonder. “Not just a rabbit! The rabbit! The Hare Spirit lives in the sky! She sleeps inside the Big Dipper.” Sarah said matter-o-factly.
“The stars?” Madeleine inquired, now becoming interested.
“Yes!” Sarah continued. “Gram told me about her. Gram said, when the Hare Spirit was a baby hare, she would look up to the stars every night, and dream of being with them. She wanted to be with them so bad, that when she got bigger and her feet got wider and her legs stronger, she began to jump—and jump and jump! Until at last she jumped so high she jumped right into the Big Dipper! And she lives there to this day.”
Madeleine’s eyes, big as the tall-tale being told, enraptured and in awe, quivered with delight. Her sister Sarah, sensing her sibling’s amazement, fed off her excitement, and leaned in, their eyes locking.
“And you know what else?” Sarah mused, goading her sister to ask.
“…Wha?” Madeleine barely breathed.
Sarah scooted closer, her tone at a dead whisper. “Gram also told me, that, if you pray to her, the Hare Spirit, she’ll give you crazy awesome jumping powers. Jumping powers so powerful…you can touch the stars.”
“Nah-uh!” Madeleine suddenly pronounced, skeptical. “Nuh-uh! You’re just pulling my leg!”
“Well fine!” Sarah declared, red faced. “Let’s test it right now! Stand up.” she demanded.
The two girls wobbled to their feet, standing upon the bed, facing each other. Madeleine slapped her nightgown down, and Sarah tugged her ponytail tight. Their faces had turned fierce, full of determination. Madeleine quickly grew excited and started to hop on her toes a bit, but Sarah hushed her, waving her hands, making motion that she was about to say the prayer. Madeleine calmed, becoming most serious again, and clasped her palms together, like an angel. Sarah did the same, trying to think up a good prayer in her head. After a few seconds of silence, a prayer at last came to her. Dramatic, Sarah cleared her throat, and Madeleine bowed her head, eyes focused intently on her sister’s toes.
“Dear Hare Spirit,” Sarah began, “we ask for your blessings and powers of rabbit’s feet, to grant us the strength and wisdom to reach the stars. We ask for your guidance, and…and…”
“Blessing.” Madeleine whispered eagerly.
“I already said that!” Sarah shushed, her eyebrows knitting as she tried to think. She cleared her throat again, and Madeleine instantly looked downward. “We ask for your guidance and might, so that we may touch the heavens, and go riding on a comet.” Sarah finished.
Madeleine’s little heart swelled. That was a good prayer, and, she was excited to ride on a comet.
“Okay,” Sarah whispered, “on the count of three, we start jumping. One… Two… Three!”
The two girls fervently started bouncing, laughing instantly, unable to hold in their glee and excitement. Sarah’s heart began thumping, so loudly, as she sprang higher and higher, using the momentum of the bed, and, for a second, she thought the thumping of her heart sounded like a hare, running, racing and readying to leap! A sense of power surged through her. It was working! Her heart was pounding; she could feel it! She could feel the Hare Spirit!
“Jump harder!” Sarah cried, “Harder!”
In flurry the girls bounded, bouncing higher and higher and higher! Sarah’s head brushed the ceiling—higher! Madeleine was losing control of her legs—higher! Together the two lurched upward, hopping with all the hop their legs had to give, the thumping of their hearts growing so loud, they could hear one another’s, thrumming like drums.
Something was happening—they both could feel it!
“Harder!” Sarah shouted.
In a mighty crack the ceiling broke, dividing and spreading and from above them the whole of the sky shone down, the dark of the night deep-rich-blue, and the stars twinkling brightly. They felt their bodies lighten and grow weightless, as higher and higher they climbed! They soon came to barely believe they had ever had feet, and soaring ever the higher and higher and higher!—they lurched up and down, up and down, springing miraculously over the rooftop, the rooftops, the city, the land, the world, and higher and higher they climbed, as though teleportation, passing through time, and high and higher the clouds loomed below them, higher and higher Madeleine looked out and there was the sun, booming over her, the moon glowing as a portal in the west, and higher and higher Sarah looked up and saw, there, an arm’s length away the Dog Star, and stretching her hand up she reached, extended, strived, feeling the weight of the world pulling her down again but reaching, her fingers touching; around the light they curled, and clasping the star into her fist her sister and her bolted downward, landing on the bed in a whump! The two sprang up, Sarah calling in glee, “I have it! I have it!” and above them the sky still danced, the ceiling crackling as though ice. All the room seemed to be floating, shimmered as though they were not even there. Their long locks of golden hair coiled and fluttered around them, as halos, and whipping ribbons, but airless the room was and for a moment, Madeleine and Sarah knew that they were the only beings existing right then. Madeleine, gliding like a ghost, moved towards Sarah, who sat like a pale silhouette, bending in the indigo luminosity of the universe. With hand clutched close, Sarah slowly, steadily, opened her palm, and there, resting, sat the Dog Star, like a tiny white fire in her hand.
Madeleine looked at her sister.
You have to give it back.
Sarah looked to Madeleine, eyes welling.
I know. But, I’m afraid.
Madeleine, her forehead pinched in confusion, met her sister’s gaze in the light of the Dog Star.
Afraid of what?
Sarah, eyes stinging, wiped away a tear.
That it’s all a dream. That, I’ll never feel this happy again. Ever. That, soon I’ll wake up, and all this will be gone, forever.
Madeleine, reaching out, took her sister’s hand.
Sarah, I think maybe, we all have to give something up sometime. But, maybe one day, I feel, we won’t have to give anything up at all! We’ll just be a part of it. But, the Dog Star’s home is up there; you have to let it go.
Sarah trembled, the streams of tears waving down her face, as if clear steam, a mirage of silver shivering down and dissipating into the airless matter that surrounded them. The ceiling, clacked, slowly moving in, the sound growing and groaning louder as the ethereal realm they resided in shrank. Sarah looked to her palm, the white star, blinking, straining, as though, needing to leave… Sarah held her breath.
You have to let it go, she heard Madeleine say.
Gasping, Sarah at last released, and the Dog Star, blaring, rose skyward, ascending slow at first, and then began streaking like a pillar of light up into the night. Below, Madeleine and Sarah watched, as the hole to the heavens, closed, and all the weightlessness, died. The last thing they heard, was the thumping of their hearts, beating out a music that was soon to perish.
They held the Dog Star in their gazes as long as they could, and though not a voice, just a feeling, they knew it thanked them.
Sarah, bounced, and Madeleine lost control and toppled into her sister, the two tumbling into the bedcovers, tangled and all akimbo, laughing gloriously.
“Girls,” their mother’s voice came through the door with a knock, “get to bed. It’s almost midnight now! You settle down. It might be the weekend but there are still schedules around here!”
The sisters halted their energetic fumbling, giggling and shushing each other and wiggling themselves under the covers, voices hushed.
“I love you, Sarah.” Madeleine said, face beaming.
Sarah, laying on her back, the blanket pressed to her nose, turned to her sister. “Maddie, do you think, that, the Hare Spirit might actually exist…somewhere…?”
Madeleine shrugged. “I dunno. But, I like the Hare Spirit!” she snickered. Sarah giggled, smiling.
“I do too.” she said, happy. “Goodnight, Madeleine. Love you.”
“Night.” Madeleine yawned, before laying her head down upon the pillow, exhausted and eager for dreams.
The girls slowly began their descent into unconsciousness, sound in each other’s arms beneath the covers. So snug they were, and so quickly they fell asleep, that they did not see, there at their window, the Dog Star.
Shining brighter than it had ever shined.