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Warm Milk

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Warm milk was best when one couldn’t sleep. Judge Gaffney now he preferred something hard, Veta knew he did, but that was a man for you. Why you might as well be talking to yourself as try to tell a man that alcohol just excites the body … a person she meant. Warm milk on the other hand, now that was soothing although the taste really wasn’t all that, not unless you added sugar, but not too much sugar. Too much and the drink was too sweet; too little and it wasn’t worth drinking, but just the right amount of sugar completely transformed the drink and then it didn’t taste like warm milk at all.

And wasn’t Elwood just the same? Like warm milk that is, transformed. Why he’d dropped all those boards or chairs or whatever it was he’d been on, he’d given it all up ever since he’d started talking about that white rabbit, six foot was it? or maybe it was six foot three, she could never remember. As if anyone had ever seen a rabbit taller than, oh, she didn’t know, four feet? How big did they get, anyway?

Now that was odd. The light was on in the kitchen and at this hour. She could see it from under the door. Perhaps the cook had realized she’d wanted warm milk and was making it for her. “Elvira? Is that you in there?”

It wasn’t Elvira at all. It was a rabbit, as tall as Elwood had said, standing over her stove. Of all the nerve. “Good evening, Mrs. Simmons. I understand you like warm milk.” He stirred something in the pan. “I’ve put in just the right amount of sugar.”

Well, he was polite at least and he seemed to understand about the milk. “And … and you’re Harvey?”

“Yes. May I call you Vita Louise? Elwood speaks of you so fondly that I feel I already know you.”

Vita felt something harden inside at the sound of her brother’s name. This was the creature that’d been dragging her brother into disreputable establishments. The rabbit poured the warm milk into a mug and held it out to her. “Just the way you like it.”

Vita backed away, toward the door. “No thank you. I just remembered there’s something I have to do, in the other room. Perhaps you’d be so kind as to let yourself out.”

She fled before the rabbit could respond. It would have been hard enough, getting rid of him if he’d been imaginary. How was she supposed to make him go away if he was real?