Bambi

He kindly agrees to drive her to the station, despite the early morning shadow fog. Weathered hands grip the steering wheel as he peers into the gloom. She should have insisted on driving herself. She is not sure how much he can actually see.

She strains her eyes for him and watches the road in silence. A sudden impression of delicate, broken legs emerges from the mist. Dead – blinded and struck by another car or lorry as it tried to cross the road.

Did you see Bambi? she asks, but he thinks she means the film that traumatised her as a child, not the remains of the deer that they speed past.

……………………………………………………………………………

Walking into work one morning, a doe crosses her path. A mother with Bambi in tow. She stops. The doe stops. An unexpected encounter, as baby Bambi swings its puzzled head between a four-legged and two-legged mother.

She is watchful and cautious. She knows that coming between a mother and its young is a bad idea. ‘Academic crushed by deer’ – flashes through her head. A dramatic headline so out of keeping with the quiet, suburban, tree-lined street.

The doe tastes the air, body tense and shivering, but she must have smelt harmless because Bambi and mother walk on, then disappear into a thicket of trees.

……………………………………………………………………………….

During Lockdown he started walking on the golf course with the dog. Three times he came back and related how the dog had narrowly avoided being trampled to death by deer. Deer who had come down from the hills and reclaimed the land.

She must have disturbed them, he said, because suddenly, she was running towards him, a deer after her, and he didn’t know how she wasn’t crushed by their hooves, as he yelled and shouted and waved his arms – again and again. Trying to make himself bigger and stronger and more impressive than a rutting stag. A doe protecting her young. A buck unused to humans.

………………………………………………………………………..

They started cycling together as something to do. Something to unite them now the children had grown and left and they only had each other. One afternoon he decides to go ‘off track.’ She knows this is a bad idea but humours him. Sure enough, the path soon disappears, and they are left dragging the bikes over gorse and roots and fallen trees. She is cursing, he is laughing, so it is only afterwards that she realises – they must have heard them coming.

Deer. Hundreds of deer: chewing grass, rubbing antlers and many with a Bambi at their side.

They can see us, right? she asks. Of course, he responds.  

The deer ignore them. Completely and utterly. It is almost as if they are not even there.

…………………………………………………………………..

She is a vegan estate manager, in charge of over a thousand acres of land. She passionately believes in rewilding and creating more sustainable, kind ways to live with and on the earth. She cannot remember the last time she bought a new pair of shoes, or a piece of clothing. Everything is darned and fixed and lived in till it cannot be used anymore.

Part of her job is to cull the deer. Too many deer and no predators, other than humans. She sees this as necessary – about preserving an ecological balance. She shoots them, then leaves the carcass for the eagles and mice and bugs and other foraging species. She also takes some meat home, to make venison stew. Waste not, want not. It is the only time she will eat meat.

Later, walking in the hills, he will come across the skull, picked clean, and carry it home. He will hang the white sightless bone and twisted antlers on the garage wall, until moss and ivy cover it completely.

………………………………………………………………………..

2 thoughts on “Bambi

  1. Almost 34 years later and that event is still opening your eyes, sparking thoughts and stimulating you into putting your feelings onto a page. I enjoyed this journey.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s