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DANCING IN THE SHADOWS story

Story ID:4882
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Organization:Retired
Story type:Story
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Year:2009
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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Richard L. Provencher
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, Nova Scotia
Canada B2N 2B2 Tel (902) 897-2344
E-mail: richardprov1@netscape.net

Word Count = 1,394




DANCING IN THE SHADOWS
By
Richard L. Provencher

Dew lay as a wet blanket on mother deer and young buck. Each drew warmth from the other. Then young buck stood, shook off the moisture and stared ahead. He was anxious for his daily snack of young shoots.

It was difficult to penetrate the fog with his wondering stare. Now both deer stretched to their full and beautiful stance. Shades of camouflage brown blended with the surrounding willows. And a string of thick pine provided a screen for extra protection. Mottled leaves acted as a carpet of comfort, October dampness softening any shifting movements. Patches of snow provided puffballs of white.

Mother deer and her young one now meandered silently along an ancient trail. Familiar trees were their guideposts.

Ahead lay an open space resembling a field, but instead was a section of clear cutting. It looked like some wild beast had taken a huge bite out of the forest. Gazing about, absorbing the scent of cedar, there was no warning of any danger. The sun acted as a warm breath upon mother and son.

Suddenly as they 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. Images of humans with sticks of thunder swirled fearfully in mother deer's brain.

Instinct swung her head quickly to the side. Young buck was shoved roughly into the protection of the forest, where he knew to lay silent as a garter snake.

Like a ballet dancer, mother’s mighty sprints took her away from young buck. She made a half circle using brush as cover. Then detoured back to familiar well-worn trails even further away from her son. Graceful movements drew her human pursuers like a magnet.

Angry explosions followed her flight. 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. And his child-like stare saw his mother as a shadow in the mist, disappearing into the safety of the woods. A son watched, listened, until the woods became still again. Bold sounds of activity soon reached his ears. Branches moved aside, and snapping noises headed in his direction.

Crashing and running followed in patterns of annoyance. Was this another refuge-seeking animal who decided this area was getting much too dangerous? Young buck lay motionless as a tree. Aroused ears listened intently to 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."

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

After the noise of frustrated hunters abated in his vicinity, he detected new danger. An acute sense of smell inherited from the genes of his ancestors reached a new plateau. There again, that thudding upon the ground, a vibration, then the caution of stillness.

Wary movements became shadows moving through the misty woods. His eyes pierced the gloom. Sounds that were moving in the direction his mother took now turned and approached his hideout.

It was time to move. Young buck stood shakily. The commotion that entered this section of the forest was ominous. His ears were on full alert, tuned to hear even a falling leaf.

Nervous bubbles of air blew through pursed lips. A frantic message whispered to his mother. “I’m coming,” a thought carried on a current of wind. His tongue licked at moisture in the air. The sun jealously 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 step followed carefully in a straight line, as he quietly left the protection of his hideaway. Young buck's natural senses led him towards a familiar trail. He brushed noiselessly against a poplar. There were few left in the area, since an area beavers colony felled many for a dam.

It was over the next few ridges, young buck’s destination drew him. A memory of succoring from mother awaited, along with water and lush grass. His lean body now began a forward lope as a symphony of movement. He was determined, through the exercise of young muscles, to flush fear from his brain.

. . .

Experienced ears picked up young buck's gathering strides. A hungry male coyote drank in young buck’s "wild" scent. The vision of freshly chewed meat looked good on his menu. Tensing, the coyote inched forward. Not far behind, three shaggy family members copied his example. They awaited the signal to attack. Only a short distance separated them from their prey.

Young buck stopped suddenly. He was afraid to turn. Both ears expanded to full attention, instinct detecting an ambush awaited. His right eye a deep pool of black. It bulged nervously. Then he spotted something coming quickly as a runaway train. It was a coyote rushing swiftly towards his right side.

Instant full ignition jolted young buck into a sprint for survival. His body went from camouflage and stillness to soaring and a harrowing, narrow escape.

Snapping teeth leaped for his flanks. A “Whoosh” of air propelled him forward, faster. The chase was on.

During the next while, these meat-hungry coyotes often crisscrossed young buck's path. Pausing in wonder, his fleetness surprised them. With determination the coyotes traversed his trail. Tongues lolled, empty bellies aching for a meal. This was a harvest year for the pack. Growing pups demanded much food.

Except this was not meant to be an easy victory. A healthy young son was eager to find his mother. Fear was left far behind as he led his attackers on a hard fought chase. Young buck discovered worn trails leading to forest retreats carefully selected by his forefathers. Powerful legs allowed him to run easily. His racing rhythm was meant to cover miles of territory.

And he did so without undue hesitation.

Fallen clumps of brush tested his sprinting. Like his mother, young Buck’s white tail bobbed up and down. "Can't catch me," it teased. He had an appointment to fulfill. And somehow knew it was his destiny to lead a long life.

Majestic leaps across narrow brooks annoyed his sluggish 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 in their weary scampering up each rising ridge. After an hour's chase dry tongues hung quite low. And squinting eyes no longer saw their intended victim.

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

. . .

A blanket of evening shadows ended the celebration of dusk's last sunny fling. Maturing eyes managed to pierce the darkening sky. Indeed, young buck was no longer afraid. He had passed his bravery test with flying hooves. Those sneaky coyotes were abandoned far behind, left in a merge of confusing trails.

In headlong flight, he traveled speeds up to 40 mph resting often to listen for his dogged pursuers. Instinct brought him to this destination place. It was inbred in his young heart. And a sheltering sanctuary saluted him with a welcome of peace. He sniffed the air carefully. Then heard another deer’s blowing sound. It saturated young buck’s senses with a familiar scent.

A son now moved forward slowly in strength and love. Mother was calling and waiting patiently. 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 to share. His first set of antlers protruded as short spikes. Yes, it was a proud moment. Diamond-like stars gathered, in his honor. They winked approval for his bravery.

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

***

© Richard L. Provencher 2004

Richard Laurent Provencher was born September 10th 1942 in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Canada. His writing blends a love of the outdoors with contemporary issues. Richard has short stories in The Preservation Foundation Inc., Grand Reflections, Expressions of Soul, Subtle Tea Productions, and In Remembrance, considered the Best Web Site re Sept 11 Memorial in USA for 2002 and 2003. Richard and his wife, Esther live in Truro, Nova Scotia. They have four children.