MUSED Literary Magazine.
Fiction

Side of the Road

Thalia Dunn

Odd place for a fawn
to be resting,
head half raised and looking
towards the road.

I slow down, stop,
step from my car;
hands clenched;
someone had hurt
this defenseless animal
and left her to die,
alone,
another casualty in the pile-up;
another victim of our own blindness.

A quiet, calming time,
late autumn night,
illuminated by
passing headlights
and full moon above,
as I sit with her,
far enough away
not to scare
but rather to calm her
in soothing, whispering tones
“I’m here”

until she gathers
enough strength
to stumble away
from the indifference of drivers
who see deer
as a nuisance,
an intrusion into their space
in their heedless
rushing speed
to yet another
forgettable event.

I watch
as she retreats
to the stillness
of the trees
to lay down,
gasping,
exhaling
until
she breathes no more
’til her pain is gone.

Why does this image
still float behind my eyes
when I try to sleep?

Because for a second
our eyes had connected,
gazing at me,
gazing through me,
before she dragged
herself into the woods.

Did she know I was trying?
Did she know I cared?
Did she know my heart was crying,
and I stayed with her
because she was too young
to die on her own?