(originally posted 2/1/7/2019. This was supposed to be a funny little story about a deer getting revenge on the driver that hit it but I was listening to Holocene by Bon Iver over and over again as I was writing and it became something very different. That’s why it will always be one of my favorites. It’s why I keep writing despite the fact that nobody keeps reading.)
I hit a deer.
I wasn’t speeding and the roads were icy and it jumped out of the woods and I had no chance to even apply the brakes. I mean to say, I did but only for a fraction of a second. Just enough for it to think to itself “Those are the breaks.”
It leapt out of the way and I clipped it with a dull thump. It spun right in the path of the oncoming car in the other lane. It happened so fast that I couldn’t confirm that the car hit the deer (again) but it seemed unlikely that it could have dodged the hurtling vehicle. I craned my neck to look back but all I saw were the red tail lights of the other car as it slowed down and then kept driving. Late for work perhaps or just the driver thinking to himself “My work here is done.”
“It was just a deer.” Not my dear.
I turned around, awkwardly as it was a narrow winding street, it took a few back and forths, and drove back to the scene of the crime, pulled over and got out.
I needed to know that it was dead and wasn’t suffering.
The air was cold. Crisp but cold and I wasn’t dressed for such activities. The snow crunched accusationally under my feet. It was the quiet that got to me
Nothing moved except my eyes on the snow. There was no twitching carcass. No big dead eyes to look up at me. Not even a few red drops on the white ground. No hoof prints to follow to their grim end.
It was like it never happened. I was emotional and the damn thing didn’t have the courtesy to let me grieve.
I could feel hundreds of forest eyes on me. All of them waiting for me to leave so they could exhale. There was no wind but the clouds raced across the sky and the moon was there one minute and gone the next. Everything cast a shadow.
I got back in my car and made the drive home. I turned off the radio. I turned off the heater because I thought the very least I could do is shudder a little. In fifteen minutes I was walking through my door.
I lay in my bed, alone in the dark, and realized the shadows had followed me home.
Life is like that. And death apparently.
I hadn’t know the deer existed a few seconds before I hit it and as I lay there I had no idea what had happened to it. A few seconds. A few decisions. If I had left five minutes earlier or five minutes later. Actions taken and things not done and things that can’t be undone.
It was the quiet that got to me. I couldn’t see the moon from my bed but I knew it was out there. I knew that it had seen the whole thing despite being 238,550 miles away. Give or take a few miles. Hanging there in space with nothing better to do and without the good manners to abandon its usual synchronous rotation and look away for a few minutes.
The next morning I went out to my car to see if the deer had done any damage and saw hoof prints on my lawn.
And little red drops sprinkled around.
It was, of course, impossible that the same deer had followed me home. Things like that don’t follow you home.
I had hit the deer a good five or ten miles away. It was either fine and had made a narrow escape or it was broken and had crawled off to die alone in the dark. It couldn’t have tracked me down. I wasn’t guilty of anything. I wasn’t accountable.
All the best villains believe that I think.
The sun was warm and shone down but I got the feeling that the moon had told it the whole thing at daybreak. “Anything happen last night?” Satellites are like that. Can’t keep their mouths shut.
If I sported a handlebar mustache it was at that moment I would have twirled the ends.
Instead I went back into the house.
There were red dots on the white tiles in the hall.
Odd. These things don’t follow you home.