February Bloom: "My Dear Deer"

Many thanks to my Asheville “animal neighbors” for inspiring this month’s Bloom Good flash fiction story. The deer around our house have multiplied and mellowed –  we now say “excuse me” when they loiter on the driveway and “baby sit” the newborns in our field.

"My Dear Deer"

group of deer in a fieldA pink slip led Joe to ditch urban living after seventeen years of a marred job and marriage. He nestled miles away in a Western North Carolina house overlooking a field of native grasses and majestic mountains. In the two-car garage, he positioned his prized treadmill in the middle, facing outside. Daily he’d run in place with the doors open and imagine himself a leopard racing in the wild rather than thinking of himself as a hamster on a wheel to nowhere.

Joe savored sighting, hawks, hummingbirds, swallow-tail butterflies, black snakes, and blue-tailed skinks. But he disliked the deer because they had devoured his hostas. One evening, Joe drove up his 98 foot curved driveway and encountered two deer sprawled at the top in regal repose. They sauntered off after he flashed his headlights seven times. 

One Saturday morning while sipping expresso, Joe glanced out the back door into the eyes of four deer staring at him with their noses against the glass. He lost the staring contest. 

That Sunday, after returning home from a hike, Joe walked up the seventeen front deck steps and perused the peaceful view. He sensed a presence on his left and looked to see five deer sitting cross-legged on his wicker chairs. They looked back and forth from Joe to the front door. When Joe shook his head ‘no’ for the third time, they stood and exited by using their limbs to descend the deck’s posts, like a black bear. 

A couple of deerless weeks passed until one rainy spring morning when Joe opened the garage doors and wheeled his trash down the driveway for the weekly pickup before his run.

As he walked back up, he heard the treadmill humming. He saw a queue of eleven deer watching one struggle to keep its four legs running on the machine. The next one rose on its hind legs, grabbed the bar with its front ones, and revved up the speed. 

And so it went, one after the next. Joe decided that deer, like people, pine for a change of pace for them, running in place. So Joe strolled to the back of the line. While waiting his turn, he took selfies with the deer to share with friends using the subject line ‘My Dear Deer.’

 

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