Travelling Through the Dark by William Stafford. I was young when I first read it and my feelings about it are so conflicted that it still troubles me.
However, this is a less traveled path (Yes, Robert Frost, that is for you--look, the wood is even yellow!) with no visible cliffs on either side. So, a different angle is necessary.
I stumbled out onto the road and glanced behind me. No one seemed to be following. Although I wasn't sure who I wanted to come. Father might try to offer me comfort, but there was no comfort to be found; he knew that, so although he might utter the words, they would ring hollow and linger bitterly between us. Daniel might come, but anything awkward made him uncomfortable, so he would make jokes and try to laugh. It would be a mockery to me. Mother wouldn't come. She never came this far into the woods. But Alice might come.
I glanced behind me again and slid down the road a few more steps. I did not want to see Alice. If Alice came I would have to smile, I would have to pretend that everything was okay. I would have to act pleased with the arrangement and tell her how excited I was. I would do it better than father--she would never be able to detect the falseness in my words. But I did not want to lie, to pretend to a joy that I did not feel.
I wanted to mourn.
I walked down the old road some time, watching my feet, the sun filtering through the trees, touching my back without warming it. The road would eventually wind back around to the lake, but it would take hours. I wished it would take days.
I clenched my teeth. I would run, if I had somewhere to run. But I, a woman with no possessions of her own except a piano that could never possibly be moved, had no where to go. Except back.
I glanced up to see if I could find some comfort from the sky, but my gaze was caught by a deer standing in the road. It was so still, staring at me as though trying to figure out my soul. Its gaze made me uncomfortable and I shifted my weight to my other foot.
We regarded each other for what seemed like a long time. I wondered if the deer would look upon my life as something to covet. But, really, our lives were the same. We both ran as though free, but at any moment the freedom would end--his with his death, mine with my marriage.
I wished I was that deer. I would take the gamble of life and death for the chance to run through these woods forever.
The deer shifted and disappeared, taking away the light with it.
"I could have got that one if I'd had my gun," Daniel said from just behind me.
That's all. It would be interesting to take this further, but I have kids in different states of nudeness that should be fully clothed. Ah, writing. Maybe I'll get to enjoy you more tomorrow.
And you should totally read Deb's because it is FANTASTIC! And Alison just wrote one, too.