Sample Student Essay

This student had a good idea that needed some structure. Working with The Writers' Coach, the student analyzed this short story. For reference only.  Do not download for personal use since you might be charged with plagiarism and suffer penalties.


The Rabbit in the Moon

Awakened by the rabbit in the moon, I realized that this would be the last day of my life.  Yes, I know.  For White people it’s “The Man in the Moon”, but I come from a much older culture than theirs.  For us everything in nature is alive with the spirit of our relatives the animals, even the Moon.  When a young man of our people comes of age he is taken by the wise ones to the top of a mountain.  A pit is dug for him and the old men sing a song made just for him.  Then he waits.  He waits without food or water until his spirit brother comes.  It was a lion who came to see me.  He came after three days.  Some people say that your spirit brother will tell you things.  This is true, but not necessarily in a sacred way.  The lion looked down at me and told me to go home and eat.


Reflect on this for a moment and you will know why it is that we gaze up from our canyons and our mesas in the clear desert air at the silver shining globe above us and, when it is full, see the Rabbit.  This is not mysterious at all.  It’s just common sense. Think about it. What is always there even when you can’t see it?  The rabbit. What hides, partly in shadow, and sometimes behind a bush?  It is the rabbit.  It should not surprise you then that the Rabbit is the one that we see when we look up for those few nights in a month when the moon is full.             


On this night, the Rabbit rose late being almost full.  I had fallen asleep outside under the ramada.  This was because of the heat we had that day. It was the kind of heat that makes shimmering waves in the air at noon and washes its warm breath over the top of the mesa at night.  The moonlight splashed down through the branches and old worn out rugs that covered the top of the ramada and opened my eyes.  I looked up and saw Rabbit.  I addressed Rabbit in the fashion of my people.            


"Hello old Rabbit.  Why are you watching me like that?  Do you think I will put my arrow through you?  Not you!  You are too quick.  Do you think I will catch you in my snare?  Not you! You are too smart.  You will outlive me Rabbit because you are always watching."  These were the things I said to Rabbit.  I thought about it and decided that no one, not even sharp-eyed old rabbit had seen what I had done.             


My horse heard me talking to Rabbit and made a low sound.  Her small pony shape threw a shadow against the hogan that was as sharp as a razor.  I got up and poured her a small amount of water from the five-gallon can, and for my pains got a nuzzle in the back of my jeans that almost knocked me over.  It is somewhere around the 17th day of that time in the Summer that the White man calls "July", but we call "Dry Bones Moon."   By now you are asking yourself how I know that I will die sometime after the Sun comes up tomorrow and before the Moon rises again.  The answer is not so easy to say.            


There is already a death in the story.  My cousin Abel is the one who died.  He was not a good man to begin with.  He was one of those people about whom a man from  Texas would say that "…he needed killing."  I knew Abel from boyhood and he was not pleasant to know.  He was one of those boys who enjoyed inflicting pain.  He started with insects and reptiles and later tormented larger things.  He thought it funny to see an animal try to find its way back to the safety of its little house without its eyes.  Able would roll on the ground with laughter, and no amount of scolding by the elders could make him stop.  One time, he was running away from some mischief that he had done.  He rode like the wind and whipped up the pony without stopping.  He would not take the time to stop at the waterholes and even when the horse began to make that sawing sound that means death is coming he would not stop.  This way he rode one of his family’s horses to death.  There was no reason to do it, but Abel would not stop in his wild ride.  He killed that desert pony with thirst and exhaustion and this is not an easy thing to do.  There is no death worse than the death of thirst under a hot sun whether it is a man or an animal that dies.  Abel was going to learn about a different kind of death.  Unfortunately, it was sudden death.             


Abel married while still in his teens as our people do.  His bride was covered with the golden dust of the desert flowers that puts the force of life into a woman’s womb.  Abel’s bride, still little more than a child, looked only at the ground and did not smile as the old people chanted for her happiness and her children.  Abel wore new jeans and a cowboy shirt, and looked away at the horizon as if he were already a grown man.  But  from time to time I could see a mean little smile fly across Abel’s handsome face as quick as a hawk flashes across the sky.  That smile frightened me. It also started a strange feeling that later turned into anger, although I am a man who no one has ever seen angry.            


The girl soon lost her beauty.  There were marks on her face and she lost some of her teeth that were once white like snow.  Black spaces marked the places where those beautiful young white teeth had come flying out.  The people who saw the girl at our gatherings said that she moved around behind him like a dog that has been kicked too much.  The more beaten and poorly Abel’s wife looked, the louder in his voice and more boastful in his ways was Abel.  He was even more challenging than before.  He insulted everyone when we got together to race our ponies for money or for beer.  Our people say that if a man has only one friend then he will not be a good friend, but if he has no friends he is a dangerous person.  This was Abel.             


Abel, won race after race with his horses, and his spurs were always caked with blood.  I turned away many of his challenges until he openly laughed at me and called me "Man Who Will Not Race" in our language.  Then, only yesterday, I waited for Abel near a trail along the canyon’s rim.  He laughed when he saw me and asked if my pony was angry with me for never letting her run.  I didn’t answer him, but whipped her up and let her gallop off ahead of Abel on the trail.  Abel never liked to have anyone riding in front of him.  I heard a curse and then the clatter of his horse’s hooves behind me as I galloped my mare only a short distance ahead of him.  At a certain point I slowed the mare down fast with a signal that only she knows.  I heard Abel laugh behind me and felt his quirt across my shoulders as he raced past me just at a point in the trail where it takes a sharp bend.  Almost instantly I heard Abel's scream of rage, and then, almost at the same time,  I heard the noise of his horse's hooves as the poor beast struggled to keep its footing in the loose stones of the cliff side.  Then nothing.            


Tonight I will go into the sweat lodge.  The elders will chant over me.  They will sing the songs  that our people sang long ago when a warrior came home from battle and still had death in his heart.  I will die in that lodge tonight and after I have walked for a while with the spirits of the dead, I will be brought back to life.  The same kind of pollen that once blessed Abel’s bride will be poured over my head and shoulders.  After that, I will arrive in the dawn with the spirit of a newly born child. Even my horse will not know me then.


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