Friday, December 01, 2006

The stag

It wasn't that late, just a little after five, but on that evening in the last days of November it was already dark. There was too much traffic on the two-lane highway to use my brights, and as the oncoming cars approached the glare of their headlights made it even harder to see the road ahead. I drove on faith and memory.

I took a glance at the intersection ahead to the left, looking for any hint that the car waiting at the stop sign was about to pull out. Then my eye caught something directly in front of me twenty yards on, something indistinct that blocked the headlights coming the other way. I slowed down and saw the yearling stag step across my lane, moving without hurry, looking straight ahead. By the time I crossed its trail it had passed across the double yellow line. It continued on, taking no evident notice of my presence, and disappeared into the darkness and scrub before the car in the other lane drew near.

Only the day before I had seen a deer dead on the road, a mile or so on, another young stag. It had blundered into our world and, unlike this one, hadn't survived the encounter, the crossing of vectors of the known and the unknown.

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