She woke under a canopy of stars, each one blinking with as much surprise as she. Her hand touched the soft grass beneath her, a breeze caressed her face as it raced across the meadow. She sat up letting her eyes adjust to the dark. The moon was full and the sky clear. She was in a meadow surrounded by trees. It was as if mother nature had built a castle just for her. She heard some rustling now and then as small rabbits or frightened mice moved through the grass.
She looked down at herself and could barely make out a floral house coat. Not a robe but something more substantial. Her hair was dark in the moonlight and her hands seemed so much younger than she remembered. A noise across the meadow made her look up and a large stag broke through the treeline. He was huge and muscular. His crown of bone as long as he was tall. He was magnificent and she felt a tear roll down her cheek.
She stood up slowly. She didn’t want to spook the grand king of this wood. As she did the King moved toward her. He raced quickly from the wood to her in seconds, stopping five feet from her. She saw into his black eyes. They seemed as clear as the purest crystal. She kept still slowly reaching out her hand. To her surprise the King knelt before her and let her touch his proud nose. Her smile was a big as the swelling in her heart as she heard a soft voice somewhere far away.
In the white room the machines beeped and growled. Wires winding across the tiled floor to the single bed. Sitting on the bed was a young girl, no more than seven. She clutched onto a piece of paper that she held up to show the woman lying still beneath her.
“And see Nana. It’s so beautiful here and the King comes to say hi. He is a good King…so gentle. He will let you pat him and you won’t hurt anymore. I love you Nana.”
The girl lay back against the woman, still holding up the picture of a meadow, under stars, with the King standing proud.
I remember back when the world was heavy. The days were so long, riddled with grief and pain. There was a loss, so deep that to fall into it meant falling forever and I fell. The mind raced within a crawl. I didn’t think pain could come from inside. I didn’t think it could hurt for so long. All I wanted was to get it out and I did,
A line of red, dripping down the arm was like watching a favourite movie. Each line seemed to let out the agony. Each cut closer and closer to the hairless wrist below. The mind imagines a sleep deep and dreamless. It imagines a peace that comes with nothing, with nonexistence. To be gone, so easy, like snapping the fingers. As horrible as it sounds, that thought could bring a smile.
Days and days of red lines and dreams of nothing. Waiting for the end, but never following through. That in itself showed a hope, no matter how small. As the scars healed a soul perhaps began to heal too. those close tried to be closer and i pushed them away. Humans are still a species alien to me, but then I just hated them all.
So what changed? My children not laughing at their silly father. My parents out living a son. My own up bringing, stupid Catholics, and in a strange way a human. The mysteries of life coming back to the fallen. The fall ending, not with a thump, but slowing enough to put both feet on the ground. I wear a mask of smiles from time to time, but that is how you fool the dark.
Sometimes the old stag stood on the mountain, chest puffed up as the rain poured down. His broken antlers shining in the wet. His fur matted to his skin. He had earned every scar and every scratch. He still looked powerful even with his age. So many battles won, now just a distant scent on the wind.
If deer could feel, he felt his age. His shoulders burned, his knee joints ached. He had struggled to climb so high, but this was his mountain, his ground to guard and as the rain fell on the old stag his knees buckled. He fell to the ground, the fast beating heart quickened slightly and then began to slow. He rolled onto his side, looking up at the dark clouds.
If deer could feel he would have been scared, or maybe he was reflecting on his many children. He helped populate the mountain and the forest below.
If a deer could smile, perhaps that old stag would be smiling as his heart slowed and the rain poured down and his heart stopped, but the rain kept coming unable to wash the scent of life off the mountain.