My friend, Jon, and I saw a baby deer dying along the side of Jarrettsville Pike. We were fifteen, intoxicated, and being taxied home from a party before sunrise. Jon demanded the driver pull over. The deer was very young and his legs were thin like a spider’s legs. They were pushing these weak kicks toward the edge of the pavement.
We stood around the dying animal in the dark – it was much darker out there in the county then my neighborhood on the north side of town – and listened to the deer’s breath hissing from the rift in its neck where it had been hit.
Then Jon was crying. The driver, a cartoon-version of a Pakistani cab driver in my memory, was crying. And I was trying hard to cry too, but I couldn’t.
I wanted to though. My heart felt like a broken egg. I wanted to cry until my tears made a reservoir that covered the terrible dying animal with dark water and washed him away from me. I wished none of us had been born, but especially the deer. The universe was not a place for such gentle creatures, any of us.
Jon asked the driver to put the deer out of its misery, but the driver was too scared. He panicked and threatened to leave us there. I didn’t think he would leave us and I said as much. But minutes later we were in the car anyway and it was quiet as a tomb. We were headed back to my mom and dad’s in the City so we could creep back in the basement and fall asleep watching a movie starring cartoon animals who sing to each other.
I never knew what happened to the deer.
I mean, in terms of the afterlife and everything.