Deer Daughter··Novl duration 22 mins
“Sometimes fate plays strange games and your life turns upside down from one moment to the next with just a blink of an eye. You don’t realize who you are until someone knocks on your door and give you a package with a letter from your real parents who all of a sudden decided that they want to meet you. What do you answer to that? You smile and you feel warmth in your heart because you finally can learn the truth behind all these years of mixed emotions and anger or you just throw the letter in the trash and behave like nothing happened? Well I did…” I tapped the pause button on the recorder and left it aside when a happy ring came from the inside of my bag. I took out my phone and saw a familiar name. It was my best friend who called to save me once again.
“Hey buddy, what’s up?” I replied with a wishful tone in my voice. I did hope he offered a coffee break, because I had a terrible headache from all these tapes that I had to listen to for my new article. Caffeine really kept me going those days.
“Hey Daphne, I’m good. How are you doing? I called because there is a new collection in the museum that arrived today and I thought you might be interested to have a look, for a new article maybe? I’d really appreciate some promotion, you know,” he said and I could feel his lips moving into this arch smile, which he knew very well it could convince me despite the tons of work I’ve already had in my office.
“I’ll see what I can do” I sighned loudly. After five seconds of silence, “Alright, what time shall I come by?” I decided that it was time to leave the dreadful international headlines and go out for an adventure like the old days. The weekly issue needed an update.
“Thank you very much! Around five it would be great. That’s when I finish my shift, meaning that we’ll have some coffee afterwards to catch up.”
I smiled and hung up the phone. I had a lot of work to do till the afternoon. I tapped again the recorder again and listened to the rest of the tape, will keeping some notes about this woman’s story. She was so devastated and you could clearly see hear that on her voice. I guess life is not so easy on some people. Later I had some lunch, finished the rest of the paperwork and a few minutes before six five I called it a day.
The sun was still up in the sky, but some clouds had begun to cover the hot rays, making the heat more bearable. For mid-spring it was perfectly normal to have those warmer days, however, this year was different. The heat was so stifling that could easily melt your skin like an ice cream cone. I wore my sunglasses and rode my bike all the way to the museum.
This building was its own little green paradise with a beautiful garden surrounding it, full of hyacinths, daffodils, colorful roses but the most outstanding of all was were the cherry blossom trees with the champagne pink petals, so dainty and lush. They were are my favorite. so Wwhen I was in high school I used to take loads of photographs for my bedroom walls or even painted them on my notebooks. Although they were there only for one or two weeks in April, it felt so special to observe them; pink clouds in my own daydreaming.
I locked my bike on the bench outside and opened the doors of the museum. Apollo was sitting behind the counter and seemed quiet quite engrossed in his book. that He didn’t even saw me when I came in.
“Hey, there,.” I announced and approached him with big steps. His eyes left the book and his gaze was fixed on me.
“Oh hello, you made it.” he smiled. “Come; let’s see our guest star of the month.”
After one hour of writing down information about every single crystal of in the new collection and taking pictures of them, we went to the café area of the museum to grab refreshments. Apollo was telling me how much he missed Greece - his home country - and that he was thinking of going there for the summer holidays.
“You should come. It would be great to show you around and even introduce you to my relatives. My aunt makes delicious dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves)” he said in an eager tone. I laughed and rolled my eyes.
“As much as I’d love to taste your Greek delicacies, you know that I’ll have to work and the only holiday I can get is camping for a weekend in the lake.” I replied and saw his face sadden a bit. “Anyway, I got to go; my father is waiting for a pizza and movie kind of night.”
“Okay, see you later then.” We were walking towards the exit, when I spotted with the corner of my eye the door of the forest animals section half open. The truth is that I’ve never seen this collection before and since I had a little more time I decided to sneak in. Apollo was on the phone so he just waved and we were separated.
I pushed the door hesitantly and looked inside. An eerie silence sprawled in every corner. Every showcase was half lit, thus giving a more whimsical atmosphere to the room and a chilling effect on my body. I shivered but walked slowly in front of every animal and observed them closely. They seemed as if frozen in time and their black eyes stared right into your soul, like they were ready to prophesy your death.
The one that made me stand longer in front of was a big deer in the middle of the room. It looked so real, as if I could smell the pine under its hoofs and touch his soft light brown fur with the sparse white spots on its back. It didn’t have antlers so I figured it would bewas a female.
I decided to take a picture of it and put it on my folder for future use. Who knows, maybe she could be my new friend when I’d be lonely in my office till late at night and with no one to talk to. I turned on the flash and took a click. I checked the photo on the screen to see if it was clear. Paradoxically, I noticed that her eyes were half closed when in reality, they looked at me being wide open. I took the photo again and this time her whole neck had turned towards me. All of a sudden, I heard light cracking noises and right in front of my eyes, the deer moved its body and before I could even scream, she shattered the showcase and ran out of the room. I put my camera willy-nilly in my bag and followed her, running as fast as I could.
The deer ran out of the museum and down the road. Because it was dusk and most people were at home having dinner with their familiesThankfully, there weren’t many people around to witness this ridiculous hunting, because it was dusk and most of them were at home having dinner with their families. The deer turned left from the bakery street and as if it knew, it made its path directly to the forest.
We reached about a mile and a half, from the museum into the deep woods when the deer finally felt ready to stop in a safe distance from me. I looked around and realized that I recognized the place. It was a clearing surrounded by firs, willows and nearby an old huge bristlecone pine with a hollow that I used to hide squirrels’ acorns inside.
I remembered it because here, I had lost my mom here when I was three years old. We had come for a family excursion in order to celebrate her birthday and dad knew how much she loved nature. So we pitnched our tents, set up the fire and sat around it to eat our dinner. Then my dad started narrating his favorite stories from his childhood and showed me up in the luminous night sky all the constellations he knew. It was almost midnight when my mom put me in my tent, me being half asleep. I didn’t manage to travel to the dreams realm that night because angry voices woke me up. Black shadowy figures gesturing menacingly to each other menacingly were dancing on the tent’s cloth as the fire was burneding on the background. I couldn’t understand what they were saying because they spoke in another language, but for sure it was my mom and a stranger man’s voice.
When everything was quiet I unzipped my tent and looked outside. My mom had stabbed the man’s chest with a knife and had cuts in her face, while my dad was lying unconscious near our car. When my mom saw me, she screamed to me to go back inside and then, the man found his chance to attack. After that everything happened in a bewildering way. The only thing I clearly recall is that man standing above me with a trident and then another stranger grabbing him and pulling him back into the dark woods. The next morning my dad packed our things and we went back home without saying another word. He never referred to my mother ever again. Some years ago I searched some old newspapers in case I found something helpful, but there was only a small description of my mom’s date of death and location: the woods. Nothing else.
I shook my head confused for making all these thoughts and came back to reality. Back to the embalmed deer I had in front of me that all of a sudden came back to life and now – what’s new - she began her cracking noises again. Her body began changing into a human one. My jaw dropped. It was a woman indeed. After the complete transformation, she fell to the ground naked. She was around thirty, with tangled long honey-brown hair and ecstatic green eyes. Her wheaten skin was perfect. She looked so young and pure in all her mess. Her eyes met mine and her rosy lips turned into a radiant smile. I turned my gaze on a bush.
“Um, do you mind giving me that jacket of yours?” she said with a velvet silvery voice. She seemed to feel no embarrassment being like this in front of a stranger.
“Of course,” I replied hastily and passed it over still not facing her. “I suppose I have to leave now. I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was gonna turn out like this, but don’t worry I’m not going to tell anyone about it. I’m sorry really. I’ll pretend like it never happened…” my rambling had no end. She laughed.
“You don’t need to apologize.” She interrupted me. I looked surprised. “On the contrary, you saved my life and I should thank you for that. If it wasn’t for you I would have remained there forever. You brought me back to reality somehow. Maybe it’s the connection,.” she said in a skeptical tone. My jacket was long enough to cover her nakedness so when I looked straight at her I was relieved.
“Um, what connection?” I asked with a new curiosity.
“Daphne, I need to tell you something.” She said firmly and approached me with eerie movements.
“Wait – you know my name?” I backed off, my heart beating faster. It was one thing to see a deer change into a human and a whole other story, this human to know things about you. I started to worry if all this was real. Was I becoming a psychopath? Who was this woman and what she was talking about? I blinked twice but she was still there. It wasn’t an illusion.
“Please, I want you to calm down, because what I am about to tell you might scare you a bit.” Hher face was now a mask of seriousness and her voice gave away a sense of anticipation, but she still looked majestic as ever.
“So, what is it?” my chest was ready to explode. My phone started ringing.
“Daphne, I’m the goddess Diana.” One beat. “And also…your mother.” Second beat.
The third beat was me falling unconscious on the hard ground.