The Hare

The hare broke cover and scampered across the road, passing in front of Damien’s bike. He braked hard. Alice braked too. She lost her balance and toppled sideweays into her cycling companion. They clattered to the ground. ‘Did you hit it?’ Alice asked when they had untangled their pedals and hauled the bikes upright. Damien only grunted, busy checking the tension of his brake cable. He waved a hand at the opposite verge to indicate where the animal had disappeared. Wild grass and bare, thorny bushes waved back. Alice crept over to the verge. A patch of sloping field was visible through a gap in the briars. Dark clouds brewed over a distant ridge of hills, and overhead the blue sky had lost its sun-drenched intensity from earlier that morning. The hare was nowhere to be seen. Something glinted in the grass. Alice swivelled to look at it, but the meagre ray of light that had singled out the whatever-it-was among the dull leaves had already faded, the thing lost again. She knelt and ran her hand through the grass. After a moment she brushed against something smooth and cold. She drew back sharply, then leaned in again and located the object. A small emerald brooch, intricately adorned with the likeness of a hare mid-stride. ‘Look,’ she said, holding the brooch out to Damien. He raised his eyebrows and prodded the map. ‘Still twenty-four miles. Should be there around three-ish.’ Alice turned and said a quick thank you to the hare, where ever it had disappeared to. They set off again, the brooch tucked carefully into the front pocket of her handlebar bag.