H. M. L. Swann
Day 30: Autumn
300 Days of Writing
Day 30 Autumn:
The leaves turned first.
She couldn’t imagine what the world would be like without autumn, the season of death, rest, and renewal.
Precious picked up a leaf and twirled it between her brown fingers. The air was crisp and smelled of apples. She threw the leaf into the air and watched it fall.
Slowly, it cascaded towards earth, letting gravity tug it back down. Precious followed it off the trail, the wind carrying it slightly towards the left, and she threw it back into the air again. She smiled to herself because she was behaving as a child would, throwing and chasing leaves. She tossed it up, looking up at the kaleidoscope of colors above her in the forest when there was a crunch under her foot.
She looked down to see a dead deer. She had scrunched its ankle into the dirt, some of its hide slid off sticking to her shoe. Precious clutched her chest, unconsciously, and tried to abandon the dead body she saw.
She made her way back to the trail. It wasn’t often she saw a dead body. She tilted her head and tried to recall the last time she was faced with life’s harsh reality, realizing she never had.
Gripped with a sudden curiosity about the corpse, the roadkill, the deer, she made her way back towards its gravesite. She watched her feet as she hurried through the fallen leaves, trying to retrace her steps.
She thought she was lost at first, but then she found it. She took out her phone and snapped a photo of the dead beast.
With a caption written, she paused over the share post icon, wondering to herself just how ethical it was to photograph the creature's dead body.
It’s just a deer she thought, and posted the picture, leaving the wood immediately after.
On her first night at home, the beast visited her. Its breath was hot on her neck, smelling of rotted wood and blood. Precious woke up screaming and clawing at her skin, feeling its clammy presence still on her.
Every night after she posted the picture, she dreamed of the deer. She witnessed its death, how a semi had knocked it down, how its babe had nuzzled it for days before giving up and leaving. She saw herself approach it, run away, and return to take a picture.
She deleted the picture, but the creature still visited her. Every night she saw the beast until the winter solstice.
Then autumn was over.