Short Story — Moonlight Rabbit

Recently, I had come across a short story, “Good Rubbish” and its accompanying essay written by renowned author Andy Kissane. Inspired by his work on children and plights around the world I wrote my own short story based on a visual stimuli. In his accompanying essay Kissane mentions that his writing was inspired by photographs and they “gave him enough information and enough inspiration to begin writing”. Similarly, I used a visual stimuli to draw ideas and create a short stories.

The following is an image of how children play in Russia and was a supporting model in my story. Source.

Russia 1994

Misha’s meaning of home was different from the industrialised city far away in this vast country of Russia. Her hometown Korolyov was hectares of wild grass, dotted with pine trees, and reeds fiddling between the grass. She was born wrapped in a thin light shawl, in the small decrepit house, in the night, her face beautifully lit up by the dim light of the flickering wax candle. Misha’s face resembled of her mother. Beautiful blue eyes, sandy blonde hair and a small nose. Her mother, Samara with strands of blond hair with an arising grey adorned her face, and her hands shook, her emaciated body shivering in the night. The drops of tears splashed on Misha’s lush face and Samara held Misha tight to her chest.

The hazy dusk light shone through the pine-cone trees and Misha ran in between the grass, in a mere singlet and pants. She slid through the rows of grass and grass, propelling herself with the damp mud and spreading her small arms out wide to feel the wind billow through her singlet and feel the true beauty of nature. When the young girl was sapped of her energy, she let her heels delicately roll through the mud and she would slide herself forward until she had lost all momentum. She would giggle as the dandelions and rosemary would tickle her nose and eventually, she would sneeze due to the pollen.

By now, Misha would trudge to the small dark wood house. The front supporting wood of the roof was collapsing, and the entrance to the house was simply a small hole, slowly decreasing as the ravenous weeds dominated the houses internal structures. As Misha entered the house, she stepped on a few splinters but this was a daily occurrence and she simply dived herself through the great arras that divided the single room into the sleeping confines and other tasks. The arras was an image of a large bear ensconced in a large plush blanket in a landscape of snow. The arras flipped open, and Misha comfortably landed. Samara would hunch over in the feeble chair and smash the squirrel’s head with a big stone, using a sharp edge of a can to cut open the body and take up as much flesh as possible. Even so the flesh of the squirrel would not be enough to fill Samara’s and Misha’s stomachs.

This was all daily routine for Misha. She was bored, of no company, her mother nearly always crying in her chair, her once beautiful face marred by the scars the city had left behind, the hopes of success, for glory, all killed in one day. Samara would smoke on cigarettes, her butts scattered across the household, and always a hazy atmosphere. She would never let Misha enter the tiny house whenever she was smoking and Samara’s health was constantly declining, her green veins prominent and her teeth no longer white and in square when she was in Moscow. Samara thought that although she may have ruined her life, she would not let Misha’s life go to waste.

Whenever Misha asked her mother about her mother, she would shrug her shoulders and push Misha out of the house and start crying puffing on her cigarettes. As she kicked the reeds down and ran in confusion through the fields, Misha was

Misha returned to the fields idling, letting the reeds tickle her fingers and would pluck the heads of the dandelions and blow them wishing for a friend. One day the reeds momentarily rustled, and Misha followed the vibrations in the grass, moving from a strut to a sprint until she launched herself and captured the moving creature — a beautiful rabbit. Misha gaped at the creature which she had found and slowly examined its body and slid her hand through its soft hair and lifted it in the air and put its nose to hers. She cradled the rabbit and ran in the fields in ecstasy of her newly found friend. Eventually, Misha had to return to the small dinghy where she would consume her one and only meal. The rabbit scuttered away into the grass when Misha let it go. The next day the rabbit returned, and Misha showed it to her mother. Samara showed shock on the other end of the pole. She quickly got to her feet and tried to grab the rabbit for consumption, but Misha shrieked and kept tugging on the rabbit. The rabbit escaped both hands and Samara lifted her stick ready to reprimand Misha.

Misha was terribly bruised and was weeping throughout the night, yet her mother did not sympathise. Misha’s hopes of friendship and company had faded away by her mother’s desire for food and Misha knew she could not bear watching the rabbit having its head smashed with a rock and its body bled out and prepared for consumption. The night finally arrived, when the Russian authorities had eventually scoured the country and jarred open the doors. Samara was shocked in fear as she awoke to a spear protruding through the arras and Samara lifted Misha and approached the doorway. The Russian guard was already waiting and separated Misha from her mother and gave her to another guard behind the main guard. “Samara Moskov, accept your crimes of murder of your own husband Gorchakov and inacceptable treatment of Misha.” Samara leapt forward in anger and rage of remembrance of her husband using the last of her strength clenching her knife and pushing the guards and stabbing them and allowing the spear to enter her abdomen. The injured guard dropped Misha.

“Fly Misha, fly,” her mother groaned as she feel to the ground and Morana slowly embraced Samara.

Fear and death enveloped in the air and Misha ran through the fields, but she stopped. She could not leave without her wish completed — she needed her only friend. The grass rustled one last time in the grass expanse and Misha scooped the rabbit and headed for liberty …

Acknowledgements and Inspirations

This short story was heavily reliant on the visual stimuli above of course, but I also drew on other major global crises and events to create the context above in my story. Misha is a common name in Russia and is an affectionate abbreviation of Michael and translates to a bear. Although this name is actually a masculine name I believed it would appropriate for Misha to be a feminine character in my short story due to her adventurous and playful nature. The significance of Misha’s name meaning bear not only suggests that she is quite wild for her gender but I repeat this symbol in my story. If you haven’t realised by now, the great arras in the small dinghy house is of a bear, which also matches with Misha’s name.

If you were to research on what Misha is, it is a symbol of a small cuddly bear which is currently a big mascot of Russia, especially in its Olympics, like in the 1980 Olympics. At one point it was made into a Soviet stamp. I will explain the significance of the Soviet Union with the story, but for now examine this interesting stamp, with Misha holding the Olympic torch:

Misha decided to appear with the Olympic torch when the Olympics was held in Russia (1980).

The Soviet Union, as you might know, was a large socialist state that expanded across Europe and collapsed in 1991. This story is set three years after the culmination of the Union. After the collapse we saw a great economic disaster in Russia, and the mother of Misha, Samara was one of the individuals who suffered from this new change. I have left a few hints throughout my story discussing how Samara was a strong supporter of the Soviet Union when I discuss the familial relationships between Samara and her husband.

I carefully laid out the character of Samara so I could ensure that she would neither be seen as completely evil or completely good. Let’s begin with good. The origin of the name Samara means “guardian” or “protected by god” in Arabic and Hebrew origins. This feminine name also exists in the Sanskrit language and that also surprisingly means “with immortals; accompanied by god”. The notion of the missing father may also have hinted to you that she simply wanted to protect Misha and her final words “Fly Misha, fly” may have appealed to her goodness.

But there are also a good many reasons why she is equally as bad. Samara’s addiction for alcohol and tobacco and outrageous treatment of Misha can testify her vile nature. Unlike Misha’s name, Samara’s namesake was a bit more complex in my short story. The irony in the name is that Samara was supposed to act as a holy and pious character but turns out to be the contrary which was something I particularly enjoyed in my short story.

I ended my story drawing on Slavic mythology and well done if you could decipher that Morana was the Slavic goddess of death. The context here is a Russian context, so a Slavic belief system is not rare. So when I mention “Morana embraced Samara” it refers to death taking Samara from Earth.

You can also have a go at writing a short story like Kissane’s based on an image as a prompt or a word prompt. There are other images of children if you seem keen on this topic of how children survive in harsh conditions. Originally inspired by words from Blair Mahoney to help initiate this task.

Usually I end my medium stories with something about what I’m writing next but I’ll leave you with some images of poverty in Russia which was a prominent theme in my short story.

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Lowell Bassi

Lowell Bassi

My stories aspire to change the way we perceive literature, from a scary forest into something that we can all appreciate through humour and insight.