the girl and the deer

the girl and the deer

Gillian Benz

Part 1:

Death had never really bothered Leah. She remembered the first time she encountered death. It was at the early age of five, and even then, she approached it with a calm understanding.

The day she found death was especially quiet. As if the woods were already paying their respects. Even the wind stopped its whistling so Leah could hear her heart beat louder than usual.

A path lay ahead of her, marked by a thin trail of dead grass just as wide as her shoes. She started her journey into the brush, lining up her feet on the line and slowly placing one in front of the other, careful not to disturb one blade of grass. As she walked, she looked at the ground, so her mind could wander without disruption. Imagining every possible creature in the woods that could be hiding only a few feet away, she shuttered. Her parents were always so nervous about her going into the woods alone, so when she could finally sneak away, she was careful to keep an eye out; but for what? Her ideas of danger consisted of shadows, sick feelings, and story book villains but nothing real. One foot after the other her feet moved, and she trained her eyes on the pink shoe straps until her eyes started to water. Her mind kept on wondering about what she had to fear in the woods. Big furry animals? Sharp teeth? Pouncing hunters?



Part 2:

That’s when she saw it. At first, she thought she imagined it so well, she could see it in front of her. But when she reached down to touch the drops scattered before her, it stained her fingers: warm and very real.

She wasn’t scared, only curious. Who lost this blood and where are they now? Have they gone somewhere to fix it? Leah looked up at the trail, stained red, in front of her that led to a space in the trees. At the end she could see light. Slowly she started towards it, careful to avoid stepping on the blood. Whoever lost it might need it back.

As she followed the trail, the drops turned into large spots that matted the grass, and soon enough, she was playing hopscotch to avoid stepping in it. She wondered how there was so much and why they wouldn’t stop to avoid losing more? As the clearing got closer, she started to realize maybe they couldn’t stop. They had to keep going or they just needed to find the clearing. Her feet moved with a sense of urgency as she started to wonder why this clearing was so important to reach. Maybe she needed to get there, too. What was she not understanding?

Her heart pounded as she thought about all the blood and what it meant. The sound filled her ears until she was underwater and there was only confusion as to what was causing her fear.

Then as quick as it started, everything stopped.

The light poured over her as she stepped into the clearing and she could see the whole story laid out before her. The blood on the grass became less and less as she walked up to the animal lying silently in the center of the clearing.


Part 3:

A deer.

She knew from the many stories and times she had seen a few on the edge of the woods near her house. But she had never seen one this close. As she approached, the wounds were clearer; some would describe it as gore, but she wasn’t frightened by the mess. She could tell it

had tried to escape, and almost succeeded, but whatever wounded it made sure that it couldn’t go far.

Everything was still as she took in the scene, except for the cogs turning in her little head. The same eyes that she had stared into many times before were now blank. Glassy, like the eyes of the stuffed animals her parents gave her that she refused to play with. The life was gone.

For some reason, she wasn’t sad. The deer were always there when she couldn’t escape the confines of her house where she knew she didn’t belong. She always envied them for their freedom. Even this one, who had its life taken away, still had the chance to run and live. In death, it gave life to something else. She could see how beautiful it all was.

As she stood thinking, she slowly realized why it went to the clearing. The smartest way to escape was to go deeper into the woods where it wouldn’t be found. This deer knew it was too late. With no chance left, it accepted the idea and went to a place it could rest. It could’ve gone anywhere, yet it chose here. Looking around, she understood perfectly—happy that the creature was able to have its last few moments here.

She stood motionless wishing that was how her life was. Truly free. Slowly crouching down, she extended her hand to softly touch its head and felt peace.