They stare up at me from small steel cages, wrinkling their noses and hopping in a way that might be nervous, as I prepare a syringe filled with a cancer-causing cocktail.
The solution is green, the color of radiation and toxic waste in comic books.
These ten rabbits have to die, or no one will accept the results of Dr. Burnham’s experiment, no matter how successful it is.
I was warned this day would come: you can’t be a PhD in biology here and not kill things.
I should feel more guilty about it, I’ve spent so much time trying to avoid this kind of lab work; but I’m getting married in three weeks. A spring wedding. I have a final fitting for my dress tomorrow, and the caterer’s nothing but drama. I can’t get frilly lace and menus out of my mind. I was warned this day would come, too.
I will also inject the next ten rabbits down the line, but I can fight to save them … up to a point. The experiment is a success if they live and their cancers die. I call them the “Roulette Rabbits.” (The first ten, obviously, I call my “Death Bunnies.”) Since I’ll be going on my honeymoon mid-way through the experiment, I might not even see how they turn out. Dr. Burnham objected, strongly: but I told him that if he doesn’t like it, he can always graduate me. He’s been nitpicking my thesis for two years, to keep me here to run his lab. I qualify for science grants aimed at women and minorities. He loses me just as much if I’m fired as if I matriculate, so he agreed to let me go for my wedding. And honestly, I think I’ll like not seeing the outcome better. Poor little Death Bunnies. Poor little Roulette Rabbits. I’ll be the one injecting them, but as long as I’m not watching them die it will feel like I’m less responsible.
These guys, over here, are the ones I don’t have to worry about. The Control Rabbits. As long as they get fed, they’ll be fine. They’re here just so that we can keep track of what ordinary rabbits, non-cancerous rabbits, do. Live and eat and … well, we’re not going to let them screw, but, everything else.
Everybody already knows what ordinary rabbits do. Their imprisonment here is formally necessary, but practically pointless. Still, they shouldn’t complain: better to be a Control Rabbit than a Death Bunny.
I can’t believe I’ll be wearing a veil. That’s so … medieval. And white? White? I’ll be moving into my future by turning myself into a relic of the past. It makes no sense. If I had a daughter, it’s everything I would tell her not to do. Live in the present, love your opportunities.