Sometimes while I’m running, I have to look over my shoulder. That paranoia crawls up my body. It’s like a leech. Buried in my skin. So quick I don’t notice.
I’m a deer. Weak, frail, timid. I’m running for my survival.
I had been alone and cautious because a hunter had shot me with a bow and arrow. It pierced me in the chest, just inches from my heart. Somehow, I escaped.
I stumbled into the forest, determined to be alone. The wound had greatly weakened me. I was bleeding all over the forest because the arrow was still lodged in my chest.
A buck came out from behind a tree. He assisted in removing the arrow. He said, “I would never hurt you. You’re too weak and small, my dear.” He told me he would protect me from the dangers in the woods.
I was skeptical at first. With all the dark creatures lurking in the forest, is it wise to trust a strange buck?
The sun was falling steadily. I had to make a decision soon. My survival depended on it. I could continue my journey alone, awake all night and on the alert, or I could travel with this buck.
I went against my better judgement and followed his lead. We traveled into the depths of the woods, and I could see nothing.
For two years, I was blind. We traveled through the woods, and usually at night. This buck was nocturnal, always telling me, “Just trust me. I won’t stray you in the wrong direction, my dear.” So I followed.
I have poor eyesight. When alone, I travel during the daylight hours. I stop at the edge of the woods, but don’t venture into the clearing. The open space is risky. I prefer the safety of the trees.
As a frail, weak female, it was perhaps wise to travel with the young buck. For the two years of our time in the trees together, I found it peculiar that we only began our ventures when the sun fell. I spoke up at times. Meekly, but I still voiced my concerns. His answers always left lingering questions that I kept in my head. Sometimes the questions traveled to my tongue, but I swallowed them.
During the day, the buck and I were lazy together. At first it felt comfortable. While alone I had to always be on the alert, but with him, I relaxed. I got too comfortable.
Over the course of our time living in the woods together, his actions gave me more questions that swam in my head. After two years, I was a nervous wreck. Not only was I weak and frail, but he was convinced I was dumb and incapable of living without fear. I questioned his every move, and rightly so.
The buck was concealing his true identity. The questions were building because my instincts told me to get out. But his charm trapped me to his side. I was enslaved, weighed down by the hopes that I was worthy of him.
Leading up to the horrific event, I should have known. The buck has assisted in helping me when I’d been bleeding all over the summer leaves. He caught me when I was vulnerable, almost begging for someone to take me. To at least pretend he cared. This buck was the best pretender. However, I swatted the questions away like flies.
After two years, the buck and I were in shambles. I was too weak and frail to keep up with him during our nightly journeys through the woods. My eyesight worsened, and it made me nervous. We were on the lookout for hunters in their orange attire, but I could only see a few feet ahead of me.
The buck, once charming, now was frustrated. I weighed him down and I knew it. I was a risk to travel with, day or night.
We both knew we could not go on. We were dead together, before the hunters had even shot us. The buck and I decided that we would part at the edge of the woods, and I would venture into the field for the first time in two years.
He led the way, like he always had. I was too blind in the trees to realize this would be the sign before the attack.
The buck I had been chained to for two years was secretly disguised as a hunter. He raised his gun and pointed it between my eyes.
“I’m sorry, dear,” he said. “I love you.”
He looked me in the eyes. His blue eyes. They looked different now. His eyes used to be so clear. Now I saw only a stranger in front of me. Had I really been that blind? Why hadn’t I run when I had the chance, before the night draped over the both of us?
As the hunter stood poised with his shotgun, I knew there was nothing I could say that would convince him to lower the gun and let me go. For two years, he’d been after my flesh. He led me right into his trap.
He shot his bullet straight through my head. My brains spilled all over the melted snow and mud as I ran out. I’ve been running ever since, leaving a dark red trail.
I ran out of the woods, my skinny legs shaking. My head is spinning from the blood loss. How am I alive?
I’m still looking over my shoulder as I run. My eyesight is slowly returning. I don’t sleep at night. But the paranoia is still buried in my skin. I cannot stop running for anyone. One more arrow, one more bullet, one wrong move, and I could be a lifeless carcass buried deep in the woods or eaten by a family of hunters.
I’m safer alone.