I was born as a Rabbit.

I was gentle. Timid. Vulnerable. I wouldn't fight for myself, because I had nothing to fight with. No claws. No fangs. No hunger. No instinct.

My Mother has always been a Rabbit. She has never let that timidness fall, never stepped up for Herself. She needed someone to stand up for Her, to be the strength She did not have. So maybe that's why She made me this.

I had been playing with another Rabbit, a girl I don't know anymore. She moved away when the rumors about the hoarder's home started. Her parents didn't want her growing up next to someone like that. It didn't matter. We had stopped talking by then, anyways. But I had been playing with her, and I was dirty. We were reckless, as all children should be. And my Mother told me She would clean me.

I don't remember how it all happened. I just remember that soft crying, my Mother looking like She had given into something She had been resisting for years. She told me, again and again, that She was sorry. That She could not help who She was. I didn't have time to ask what She meant before my head was under the water.

At first, I assumed She wanted to drown me. What else would I have assumed? But I heard Her, voice muffled through the water in my ears.

"Look. Please, just look."

I looked into the drain. It was the only thing in front of me. And in it, I saw the Devil. He didn't look like anything I knew, didn't even look like a person. He looked like the shadow of someone you once called a friend, who you could no longer forgive. Like what people say Angels look like, but fractured, pieced together with frayed bits of string and veins. He looked like me. I hate to say it, but he looked like my Mother.

He reached out, and he touched me so gently. And he spoke into my ear, "I have haunted your Mother forever, child. I have haunted Her since the day She left home. She needs rest. She needs strength. You understand your place here, right?"

I wanted to scream. I would have let him in had I done that. There was an understanding, obscured by the water leaking into my skull, that this was not fair. But I didn't care. I understand that this is what my Mother needed, and I couldn't dare let Her down. I nodded.

And the Devil took my face in his hands, and he kissed the top of my forehead, and he stroked my hair like the Father would. And he told me that, despite this cruelty, God would still love me. No, not just that. He told me that, because of this cruelty, God will love me.

God doesn't like those who have it easy. Maybe there's still a spot in Heaven for me, then.

And then it was done. And my Mother pulled me up, and told me once again that She was sorry. And I lived with it. For years, I lived with it. And the knowledge that She could do that to me started to change me. It was slow and painful. My white fur gave way to matted, bloody hide. My nose became a snout. My paws became sharp, violent things. And my instinct to be docile was replaced with a need to destroy anything that would ever try and hurt me again.

I hated this. My Mother saw my hatred, and She knew what to say. She told me, "You are this sick thing, you are this terrible thing, and I have it in me to forgive you. Everyone else will see you as a monster, but I will find it within myself to love you. And all I ask in return for this graciousness is your devotion."

I prayed to God for the first time that night. Maybe it was practice for my Mother, or maybe my Mother was practice for Him. I will never understand why we must always worship the ones who hurt us the most. But questioning the Lord only leads to falling from grace, and this grace might be the only thing I have left.

Not like you.