Discover more from Along the Hudson
“But that’s what Mommy said earlier. We’ll have to leave Friday night instead—” Joe Mullins sees the deer out of the corner of his eye and slams the brakes. The doe leaps from the left-hand lane, over the centerline, and lands directly on the hood and windshield of the Ford Taurus.
There’s an explosion of glass and squeal of tires—intermixed with a shriek from little Lillian in the backseat—as the deer rockets up and over the car, barrel-rolling in awkward fashion. It comes to a rest beside the guardrail.
“Shit!” Joe swerves onto the shoulder of the road, bringing the car to a halt. He puts it in park and turns around to face his daughter.
“You okay, honey?” he asks, eyes wide.
She nods quietly. He can tell she wants to say something, anything, but she’s on the brink of tears. He unbuckles his seatbelt, gets out of the car, and opens her door to give her a big hug.
This calms her.
There’s a flash of red and blue behind them as a state trooper pulls up to the scene. The vehicle comes to a stop.
“Stay here, honey, okay?” Joe says to his daughter. “I’ll be back.”
Lillian turns around in her seat and watches her daddy walk toward the trooper. The men shake hands and converse. The girl’s eyes are then drawn to the battered and broken deer on the ground. It moves its head ever so slightly.
Lillian unbuckles herself, unlocks the door, and climbs out. Her daddy doesn’t notice her and neither does the trooper. She approaches the deer. Sees its frightened eyes. It’s bleating, almost—pleading, perhaps.
“Shh,” Lillian whispers as she sits down beside it. Its mouth is bloodied. It looks like it’s trying to breathe.
Lillian leans closer, strokes its head, pulls it onto her lap. The animal has no fight left in it; it accepts the child’s embrace.
“See the blue sky? The clouds?” Lillian asks. Her voice cracks as its breathing thickens, slows. “You’ll be there soon.”
The deer dies in her arms.
She lays its head down gently and backs away. Silent tears stream down her face. She notices some blood on her shirt.
When she turns and faces her daddy and the trooper, she realizes both men are watching her. The trooper’s holding his hat in his hands.
“She was all alone, Daddy,” Lillian says, every word a challenge to get out.
“No, she wasn’t,” Joe replies. He kisses her head and pulls her close with one arm, careful to avoid the bloody spot.
Thanks so much for reading “All Alone” today. I really appreciate it!
Special thanks to all who read and wrote some compelling fifty-word stories (and poems!) over the weekend. If you missed Fifties by the Fire, please feel free to read the stories here.
We’ll take a break from Fifties this week, but we’ll be back at it next week with a new prompt. The prompt will be sent out in advance next Monday.
Hope you all have a wonderful week!
Along the Hudson is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.