It was never going to happen, not to me. I’m the one who drives ten under the speed limit, looking for the slightest movement. Other drivers speed past me while growling unpleasantries. Yeah. That’s me.
I take walks just to watch the deer. I crouch low, try to make myself small, less threatening. After a time they go about their business. Sometimes they make a little huff before they put their heads back down, telling me they’ll tolerate my presence for only so long. But my visit is short. Just long enough to see. Have you ever looked into a deer’s eyes? It’s like they know more than us, like they experience the world differently, in ways we might never think to realize.
The hit was like an explosion. She came out of nowhere. A tan flash jumping from the darkness, her body slamming into the front of my car. Within seconds I found myself walking down the side of the road, shaking, crying, looking for the deer. When I spot her, she is a shadow standing in the headlights. I start waving, pointing. A car stops; the driver rolls down her window.
“She’s okay,” a woman says. “Please, get in.”
Cars were pulling around us then, but this woman wasn’t leaving. After a few seconds I get in. Right then I thought about asking her name, but realized that I could barely remember my own.
“She’s okay. Really. You just nicked her leg.” How could this be? This friend in the night, she helped to survey the damage; she saw how my front end was completely smashed. I knew what she was doing: she was saying what she needed to, to get me off that cold road. Afterwards, she followed me as I crept homewards. We separated at a communal corner, me going my way, she going hers.
I’m sending this thank you to you, kind friend.
This Thanksgiving I will light two candles, one for you, and one for the deer. Neither of you will be far from my thoughts.
— Melissa Neigh