white hart

A bad dream woke me yesterday morning. I went around all day in a state of frightened confusion. I was unreachable, cowering behind my eyes. At about six in the evening I forced myself to go for a run. Near the lower reaches of the park, the hilly side, I slowed down to look at a deer I saw lying alone in the grass, down at the bottom of a narrow grassy valley between two swooping bends in the road. I stopped and looked down the bank. The deer lay in long grass with its legs tucked in and its head held up. Its delicate chin was tilted downwards, and its eyes were closed, as if balancing the wide rack of antlers on its small head required all its concentration. That night I thought about the deer: it was special. I’m sure any individual deer considered apart from its herd would reveal its own loveliness, but this deer really was especially beautiful—very pale, almost milky, and sparsely flecked with reddish brown; even its antlers were lighter than usual, a rich creamy colour. I am sure this deer would stand out among its herd, which, incidentally, I have not seen grazing or thundering across the sports fields for a few days now. Where are they all? Anyway, I went running again this afternoon. I did not see the herd, but rounding the bend, I saw my white deer. It was still there—down in the narrow valley, in its neat sitting position, holding its big antlers perfectly still. I knew it hadn’t moved since I’d last seen it. Could it be dying? I stopped and watched the deer for a while, more composed than I had been the day before. I saw an ear twitch, and then the other ear, and I ran on. The deer was alive, for now at least. A few kilometers later, I thought: of course it’s alive—it’s holding its head up. I wonder if it’s dead now, or if it’s still there, feeling the weight of its antlers.

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