The deer in the road emerged as if floating from the thick fog. I pressed on the brakes, glanced in the rear view mirror, saw the lights of the car behind me. Before I could swerve I saw another dark figure. Four slim legs, head bowed to the ground. They were both young, moving so close by, so slowly across the road, speed limit 55 miles per hour.
The fog was so thick I’d had to turn on my windshield wipers to keep the glass clear before me. I had been thinking of those foggy October mornings on the river, all the sights and sounds and smells of early morning crew practice. As an athlete. As a coach. It’s so much a part of me, yet so far away now. Present, yet not quite.
The cars stopped in time. Mine and the one behind me. I scanned for more deer. Where was their mama? But it was just the two of them, meandering across two lanes, from north to south. Not concerned by my headlights, or the sound my car must have made abruptly skidding to a halt. I was listening to an audiobook. Her Fearful Symmetry. A story written in slow, deliberate prose and read expertly. I was absorbed in the words, the language, the imagery. A ghost had just been introduced, and the thought had crossed my mind that fog was ghostlike. Boats, too, visible only as silhouettes on a cloud-blanketed river, slipping in and out of vision so effortlessly. Shivers of fear so nearby.
Deer in the fog. Boats on a river. A ghost in a novel. But there’s something more. Something that connects all of these beyond the thoughts in my head. There was something greater about that moment of my car stopped in the middle of a road. Vulnerable to the fast-moving vehicles behind me and approaching me. There was something that stopped time, really stopped it. Those beautiful creatures so unconcerned with anything but their exploration of the wet pavement beneath them. Couldn’t this describe a boat, too? Or a recently deceased storybook character, floating above the ground?
There was something to connect it all. Intuition played out through panic, exhilaration, wonder. As if a ghost had landed on my chest. Where it remains, more than a day later.