Our Echo
Title, story type, location, year, person or writer
 
Add a Post
View Posts
Popular Posts
Hall of Fame
Projects
Visitors
Contests
Search

SHADOW DANCER

Story ID:3902
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2008
Person:Richard L. Provencher
View Comments (0)   |   Add a Comment Add a Comment   |   Print Print   |     |   Visitors

Morning mist provided a silent wake-up call. Dew lay like a wet blanket on mother deer and young buck. Each drew warmth from the other. Young buck shook off the moisture and stared ahead. He was anxious for his morning snack of young shoots.

It was hard to penetrate the fog with his stare. Then both deer rose to their full and beautiful stance. Their shades of brown color blended in with the willows. A stretch of thick pine provided a screen for extra protection. Yellowed leaves acted as a carpet of comfort. October dampness softened their pointed steps. In various places patchy snow provided a puff of white.

Mother deer and young buck walked slowly along an ancient trail. Familiar trees were their guideposts. Ahead lay an open space. It resembled a field, but instead was a clear cutting. It looked like something had taken a huge bite out of the forest. There was also no warning of any danger.

The sun acted as a warm breath upon mother and son.

Suddenly as mother deer stepped into the open, an explosion of sound broke the silence. It was followed by another loud rush of air. Young buck stood still as an icicle hanging from a cave entrance.

Fearful images of hunters swirled in mother deer's brain. Instinct swung her head quickly to the side. Young buck was shoved into the protection of the forest. Like a ballet dancer, her mighty sprints burst across the clearing. She made a half circle using brush as cover. Then detoured back into the woods away from her son. Graceful movements drew her human pursuers like a magnet.

More explosions followed. Thankfully, all bullets missed.

Young buck lay where he had fallen. His last view of mother was her rising and falling white tail. It waved goodbye for now. His child-like stare saw his mother as a shadow. Then she disappeared into the safety of the woods. Young buck watched and listened. And the forest became still again.

Then bolder sounds reached his ears. Branches were being moved aside. Other snapping noises headed in his direction. There was a-crashing and a-running. Perhaps some other animal decided this area was getting too dangerous. Young buck lay motionless as a tree. His ears followed the strange chatter. It was not the "rat-a-tat-tat" of a downy woodpecker. Nor was it the piping sound of a chickadee.

He sensed danger, with a capital "D."

Young buck's nose picked up man's strange scent. For the first time in his life, young buck felt fear. Suddenly he lost all desire for food. Browsing on bark and twigs no longer interested him. Where was his mother? Nature was part of his makeup. He was not just skin, bones and heart. He inherited patience and caution. And saved his life for a second time.

He detected new danger.

Wary movements became shadows moving through the woods. Sounds headed slowly in the direction his mother had gone. Young buck stood shakily. The commotion finally left this section of the forest. His ears were now on full alert. They were tuned in to hear even a mosquito's buzzing.

Nervous bubbles of air were blown through his lips. It sent a frantic message to his mother. “I’m coming,” were thoughts on a current of wind. His tongue licked at moisture in the air. The sun was evaporating the balance of dawn's signature.
Young buck headed in the direction his mother took.

After seven months of life, his curved hooves were strong. They were attached to long slender legs. Each foot followed closely, in a straight line. Young buck's natural senses led him down a familiar trail. He brushed noiselessly against a poplar. There were few left in the area. Beavers felled many for a dam. It was over the next ridge, where young buck headed.
Water and lush grass was waiting. Young buck's lean body loped forward, in a symphony of movement. He was determined to flush fear from his brain.

Close by, trained ears picked up young buck's silent strides. A hungry mother coyote drank in his "wild" scent. A vision of freshly chewed meat looked good on her menu. The coyote tensed as her body inched forward. Not far behind, three more of her shaggy family followed. They awaited her signal to attack. Fifty feet separated them from their prey.

Young buck stopped suddenly. He was afraid to turn. His ears flew frightfully to a full stretch. Hearing was turned up to full attention. His right eye was a deep pool of black. It bulged nervously. Then he spotted something coming quickly as a runaway train. A coyote was rushing in swiftly on his right side.

Instant full ignition allowed young buck a sprint for survival. His body went from camouflage and stillness to soaring. And escape. Snapping teeth leaped for his flanks. A “Whoosh” of air propelled him forward, faster. The chase was on.

At times, these meat-hungry coyotes crisscrossed young buck's flight path. They often paused in wonder. His fleetness surprised them. With determination the coyotes followed his trail. Tongues lolled and empty bellies ached for a meal. This was a harvest year for the pack. Growing pups demanded much food.

Except this was not to be an easy victory.

Young buck was healthy and eager to find his mother. His fear was left behind. And he led his attackers on a hard fought chase. Young buck was able to follow worn trails. And forest retreats carefully selected by his forefathers. Now, powerful legs allowed him to run easily. His racing rhythm was meant to cover miles of territory.

Fallen clumps of brush tested his sprinting. Like his mother, young Buck’s white tail bobbed up and down. "Can't catch me," it said. He had an appointment to fulfill. Majestic leaps across narrow brooks annoyed his pursuers.

Short-legged coyotes could not keep pace with this jumping machine. Their heavyset bodies slung low to the ground. And their hindrance was added to by stands of raspberry bushes and deadfall. Tired paws barely scrambled for a toehold. They wearily scampered up each rising ridge. After an hour's chase hanging tongues were very dry. And squinting eyes no longer saw their intended victim.

Nor did they care, anymore. Young buck had simply disappeared…

Evening shadows acted as a blanket. It ended a celebration of dusk's last sunny fling. Maturing eyes managed to pierce the darkening sky. Young buck was no longer afraid. He had passed his bravery test with flying hooves. Those sneaky coyotes were far behind. They had been left in a merge of confusing trails.

In headlong flight, he traveled speeds up to 40 mph. Young buck had rested often to listen. Instinct brought him to this destination place. It was inbred in his young heart. A sheltered sanctuary saluted him. He sniffed the air carefully. Then he heard a familiar blowing sound. It saturated young buck with a familiar scent. A son moved forward slowly in strength and love. Mother was calling.

She waited patiently for young buck. What tales they could whisper to each other. Later, they would relax in the coolness of this evening.

Young buck stepped forward from the shadows. He had a surprise for mother. His first set of antlers protruded as short spikes. It was a proud moment. Diamond-like stars gathered, in his honor. Their winking was approval for his bravery.

The stillness of the forest formed a garland of peace. And protection. It surrounded this special place. Young buck was home.

* * *

© Richard L. Provencher 2002