I step out of the cabin letting the screen door slam behind me. Across the meadow a family of deer freeze at the sound and stare at me. I stand perfectly still and stare back. There are three of them, a doe and two fawns. I am alone.
Except for the grass and a few scattered firs we are surrounded by yellow, orange, reds and browns. The pale blue sky is marred only by a single small wispy cloud, low over the tree line.
As the loud clap of wood against wood startled the deer, the sudden stop of their movement startled me. Having just stepped out I hadn’t known they were there, hadn’t expected them, hadn’t seem them leaping across the way, yet felt slapped by the sudden turn of their heads toward me.
We stand in mutual immobility for several minutes, studying each other. Except for the warbling of a single unseen bird, the cool air is quiet enough that I can hear the doe’s strong measured exhale every few seconds, a sound like the sudden escape of compressed air, like hydraulic brakes releasing pressure. I imagine I can feel her heart pounding in cautious anticipation.
Without turning away I reach my arm behind me for the door. I slowly pull it open and step backwards in retreat. Before the door closes in front of me the three bolt in unified graceful leaps across the meadow and into the woods, continuing their morning journey.
sharing my secret
at the survivor’s retreat
free of shame