by Adele Pfrimmer Hensley
30 October 2013
Sometimes at night, I go to the elementary schools and ride my bike.
The pavement is smooth. The lighting is good.
There is no traffic. It is safe. I am alone.
Sometimes I see deer.
One night recently, I saw five different does with fawns.
The deer at the school are dark but the fur inside their ears is light.
When one notices me, its body stays in position but its eyes and ears point directly at me.
As I move around them, each deer turns its head to follow me. The deer moves imperceptibly, but I know it has moved because the face has turned from North to South.
Usually, the deer at the school do not see me as a threat. Usually, they go back to eating.
Sometimes, though, they move away and in three or four bounding steps and with a flick of the white warning tail for which they are named, they disappear as completely as if they had never been there.
This is not a story about deer. I just want you to understand how silent and deserted the school grounds are.
This is a story about me, my trike and the mist. That is what it is actually about.
One recent evening, I had three laps left. I noticed that a mist was rising from the grass. The air was cool enough to convert the plants' off-gassed moisture into a fog. It seemed to be happening only in one particular place. At the back of the school, over the grass between the parking lot and the road , a thin, faintly brown mist was rising. It was on my route. I pedaled closer. The mist coalesced but it was thin. Great holes appeared in the mist looking like so many wailing or devouring or surprised and open mouths.
On my next lap, the second from the end, I noticed the mist was more dense and had lowered over the road. As I entered the cloud, I felt colder. Part off me wanted to swivel my head like the deer but part of me remembered stories, ancient and new, of malevolent spirits, of furies, and of dementors, who swooped in and with one indrawn breath could steal away every possible spark of future happiness from your soul. I did not look around. I pedaled as quickly as I could out from under the mist into clear air.
On my final lap, the mist and the chill were gone.