I was outside breaking down the chicken tractor and bringing in the pullets and dogs for the night. I had just picked up the first chicken when i heard a thud and a silver sedan screeched to a halt on the road right in front of my property. It was up near the orchard and i couldnt see clearly through the trees. However, i could see that a man had exited the sedan and walked back towards the area that the car had been when i heard the thud. My first thought was that the car had stopped and could not continue. Not being able to see i was sort of in a haze and i wondered if he had a flat tire. As the man kept walking it appeared as if he was looking for something. I realized to my horror that he had probably hit a deer. My stomach dropped as i realized he hit something right in front of my property and Sula and her daughter (the deer that gives birth in my yard every year) return home to munch on watermelon and chicken scratch leftovers that the chickens discard right about this time every night. I prayed out loud, “Lord please dont let it be Sula, please dont let it be Sula Lord!” I waited until the man left and then stopped what i was doing, half the pullets in the house and half vulnerable to foxes and raccoons as the sun set more thoroughly. I ran up the road, turned at the corner, and ran some more until i got to where i had heard the thud and the car screeched to a halt. Only a fool flies around curves at dusk. Thats when the deer are hardest to see. Dusk is a creeping in the car with the high beams on and praying time of day to drive. I cursed the fact that i had left my glasses at home. Near sighted at dusk i couldnt see anything but i knew nothing living was nearby. I felt no other being around. The wilderness was empty and quiet. I searched the drainage ditch. I searched up and down the road. I searched my orchard. I even trespassed on my neighbor’s white gravel access road to see if i could see a deer limping or lying down somewhere. I hated that i was out alongside the road in pajamas at dusk because it was only a matter of time before my neighbors attempted to take me back to the drug and rehab center they would assume i escaped from at the end of the street, or called the sheriff and reported a runaway frantic in pajamas and flip flops. I ran back to my property and waited. Sula did not come. Neither did her youngest daughter. They had been coming every night since i ditched the chicken waterer for half a water melon in the pullet habitat. When i changed the shavings i threw out the rind and gave them another half and then filled it with water. It was better than a bowl because if the chickens stood on it, it angled rather than flipped and still held some amount of water instead of dumping it all. What a useful piece of information to learn! Well, the deer came and ate the discarded watermelon rinds. It was past time for Sula and her daughter to appear. I had seen them earlier sheltering under my trees in the spot that Sula always gives birth yearly, during a downpour of much needed rain. I had seen them sheltering there and taken a video of them watching the rain. I hoped it was not the last video i would have of them living. If one of them got hit the other was probably staying with the injured one. I wondered where the deer had gone. I kept thinking i was being ridiculous, that i had no evidence it was Sula. I kept going outside to check. It was now pitch dark. The yard was empty. No Sula. It was quiet. I sighed the heaviest sigh. I would worry and worry and worry until i saw her. Sula was the most careful deer i had ever met. She was a large doe and notably wise. However, that sedan came screaming around the turn pretty fast and she does come back to the property right at the time the car stopped…. What if it was Sula? My mind just wont stop tormenting me with the possibilities until she appears. What if she’s lying somewhere with a broken leg, multiple broken legs, internal bleeding….what if coyotes find her and rip her to shreds while she’s still alive? What if her daughter isnt sure what to do? What if the coyotes find her too because she stays with the body of her mom? I put my hands up, “enough!” I gave myself a talking to, “you dont even know it was a deer. What if it was an armadillo, or a dog?” Now i was envisioning either the neighbor’s dog or one of the ones people bring to the country to dump bleeding internally, lying somewhere with broken legs waiting for the coyotes. Oh this was worse than imagining Sula! I opened youtube on the cell phone and put divorce court on. Lynn Toler would yell at some people for “coming up light over there” say “you people scare me” and tell some woman to “run don’t walk” from their partner as she tore up their marriage license. Perhaps that would distract me.

It didn’t. I just went again to do a sweep of the property with the head lamp. I made the noise deer make to alert each other to danger. Any deer present would have got up and run. Neither Sula nor her daughter are here. They sleep here every night. It is past time for them to be here. My heart is heavy and i am devastated. I wont know which one until the remainder shows up.

Sula and her daughter earlier today. Sula stood over her grown daughter, keeping her dry under a cedar branch and they watched the rain.

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