The night fell slowly and quietly. As the deer, birds, and small forest rodents drifted to sleep, the stars gently cast their light on the sleeping forms. The last birds found their nests and roosts quickly, trying to race the dark, and the deer settled down, trusting their lead stag to keep watch. He quietly walked around his small herd repeatedly, sniffing for anything unusual. Though all was silent but for the lulling sounds of the forest at night, he was wide awake. His large, pointed antlers shown silver in the moonlight, his deep brown eyes sparkled in the gloom, and his brown, somewhat spotted, coat was a fine grey this night. The moon was almost full, and in its light, he could spy the pair of owls that lived in this area of his territory. Their yellow eyes followed the stag and the small twitches in the undergrowth, though their bellies were full, so they just watched the last mice escape into their dens. As midnight approached, the stag continued to circle his herd, stopping every now again by his sons and older does. His oldest mate, an albino doe, was sleeping with his youngest son, who was also albino. The moon made their coats as white as sunlight on snow, and he gave the doe a soft nuzzle before moving on. The bats began to fly back to their cave after feasting on the bugs and young fruits. A few more hours, and dawn would break. The owls soon retreated to their nest in a tree trunk, and the mice and squirrels, though still asleep, could almost be heard as they sighed with relief at the owls’ retreat. The stars stepped back into the depths of the sky as it turned a light purple and blue. Some of the deer on the outside of the ring, the stag’s sons, and some of the younger does, started stirring and waking slowly. Each gave the stag a respectful nod as he passed. The albino doe was wide awake, watching her sleeping son. The stag’s coat turned an oak brown as the sky lightened, and the birds slowly began singing their morning songs while the sun rose and the rest of the herd stood. The stag sent them out to graze before lying down next to his doe, waiting with her for the awakening of their snowy-white son. When the fawn’s small red eyes, red like the royal blood in his veins, opened, the stag gathered his herd, and they all moved on through the forest towards the waterfall, where they would spend the rest of the spring, and many more warm forest nights.
A Night in the Woods
June 13, 2017