Ride as a Hare (Ехать зайцем) by Meredith Wadley

Maxim rides the S9 commuter train without a ticket – Schwarz, it’s called in Switzerland – and he rides first class. Quieter. Fewer worries about dogs. Or some jöööö-shrieking kid chasing after him.

A Russian hare from the Iron Curtain era, he’d gotten a Soviet exit visa to tour with a showcase troupe that performed Peter and the Wolf throughout Europe. In Zurich, he hopped away with comely Svetlana, but she tried out-dashing a tram. She failed. Later, he married a Swiss country hare, so he commutes into Zürich Opernhaus.

From across the aisle, a woman wearing noise-cancelling earphones frowns at him. Some people disapprove foreigners. Or feet on the seats. He presses down his long ears. Tries not to wiggle his nose. Somewhere, a dog barks. Maxim’s heart races. Then, one stop before his, ticket controllers board.

Groaning, ticketless Maxim hops to the floor. The rubbish is shocking – gum, tissues, newspapers. There are bins between each set of first-class seats, unlike second class. No excuse!

The black shoes of a conductor approach. Laptop typing nearby stills. Maxim noses himself beneath a 20 Minuten. He detests the newsprint’s deathly scent.

Metal screeches (hard on sensitive ears). Passengers lumber past. Maxim springs – last second – for the doors, beeps heralding their closing.

Oh, this hare’s no longer young! Honestly, he’d pay his way if only he could reach the ticket dispenser’s buttons.

His wife sniffs the fear on him, says, “Maxim! Download the ticket app! You’ve no excuse!”

About The Author

Meredith Wadley lives and works in a medieval microtown on the Swiss side of the Rhine River. Her most recent fiction is published or forthcoming in Disquiet Arts, Dribble Drabble Review, Collateral, Flash Fiction Magazine, Gone Lawn, JMWW, Lammergeier, Longleaf Review, Lunate Fiction, and Orca Lit. Her work can be found at http://www.meredithwadley.com, and she’s on Twitter: @meredithwadley.

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