Enna Part I

What is your purpose in life? Why are you here? What do you want? There are the questions Enna, a young male deer asks himself as he begins a journey that will take him throughout his world. As he travels, he will find his beliefs challenge, his understandings altered, his very existence called into question. He will see and experience events that will change his very notion of who he is. This is part one of a three part journey that will take this young der and change him in ways he could never imagine.

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4. Doe

 

He stood at the edge of the forest looking over a long open field. His travels had brought him here. In front of him as far as he could see were barren open fields. Off in the distance he could see dim light from what might be a Man cave. When he looked to his left, he found the same open fields extending as far as he could see. He had come to the edge of the forest. One thing for sure, he could go no further this way. If he walked out in the open, he might be in the open for days. During that time, some Man or predator was sure to find him. There was no place else to go in this direction. He could either stay here or go to his right.

He looked back the way he come and wondered what he should do. He had walked a full night and day since he left Karla on the hill. He did not want to go back the way he came. He imagined his return would not be looked at happily by Ellis and Ellnor. He also still felt a burning dislike at what they had tried to do with him. No, he would not go back, and he could not go forward. Where he was, there were no signs of other deer. Walking to this place he had noticed some grassy open places, mostly untouched. There were the usual collection of nuts and other leaves around. None of the tress showed that their bark had been eaten. His only company were rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, and a collection of mice and other small animals. He smelled nothing that would indicate any predators nearby. Since there were no deer or large animals around, the food supply would be enough for him. He would have to find a better source of water before the snow melted.

To his right, the forest went on as far as he could see. He was tired. He found enough half-frozen grass to satisfy his hunger and a little left over snow to eat for water. Then he found another dry spot of ground and rested. He slept peacefully.

He woke early the next morning and went looking around. He walked to the right a short way. Soon the refreshing odor of water came to his nose. He found a small stream filled with ice-cold water that was running out of the forest and into the open field. That made up his mind. He was alone here. There was nothing that would hurt him. There was also no one he could hurt like Karla and Mora. That was good. He had enough of personal relations to last him a while. He looked around and decided this be the perfect place to stay.

He spent the rest of the day looking around trying to find any sign of a predator.  He found an old badger hole, but the owner had not been there for a long time. Other than that, nothing. He found the usual collection of pine nuts and acorns along with some soggy grass, and that kept him satisfied. There was a small rise of the ground by the stream. It was high enough where it was dry. It also gave him a good view of the surrounding forest. He decided that would be his sleeping area.

The days past quietly. The task of finding food kept him busy, but for most of the time he had little to do. He spent the day wandering about doing nothing in particular. This kept up for some time. By then spring had started. He could see new growth of leaves in the trees. The grass also started growing again. Winter was leaving, time for spring again. He was now a three-season male. That made him a full adult. He was out walking near the open fields when he heard it.

"Crack," it was from a distance, but someone had broken a twig. He stood up carefully and tested the air. He caught a scent on the breeze, it was the scent of a male deer. It smelled familiar, but he could not tell who it was. It was not one of the deer he knew from before. There was also only one of them. He slowly moved toward the scent. As he crept closer, the scent got stronger. It smelled like a large male. He moved and then the noise stopped. He looked carefully and saw a large male, maybe five seasons old. He was shedding his winter coat like he was. Although thin, he had come through the winter well. He was still many length away, when the male turned and faced him.

"I have been looking for you," he said loudly. The voice was deep and powerful.

"Well you have found me. You look familiar, but I do not recall your name," he said.

"I am Balin," the deer said. "I am one of the senior males in Ellis' herd."

"Why have you come here?" he wanted to know.

"Ellis sent me to bring you back," the male said.

That was what he was afraid of, but he expected they would have sent more than one deer. "What does Ellis want with me, I left the herd."

"That much we know," Balin said. "Karla came back after you left her. She was very upset. She said you left because you were angry at Ellis and Ellnor for trying to make you want to stay in the herd." 

Well they much they got right. "That is true and that is why I am not coming back with you. I want nothing to do with your herd."

"I do not know why," Balin said shaking his head. "Ellis likes you, Ellnor liked you, even Karla likes you a lot. I think she looked at you as a mate. Many of the senior males like you."

"They all wanted me to stay and tried to trick me to stay," he went on. "I will not be tricked. The idea that Ellis used his own daughter to try and make me stay really made me angry."

"Ellis stills wants you back," Balin told him. "He told me to tell you he needs you now."

He found that difficult to believe. "He has all those senior males, the herd males, all the doe and he has Ellnor. What does he need me for?"

Balin dropped his head. "No," he said in a low voice. "The sickness spread through the herd. Most of the deer got it. Most recovered from it, but we still lost many deer, especially the herd males. We also lost Relco, Tunos, Jolo, and Ellnor. They all died. That was about half the herd males and half the senior males."

He was shocked. He did not expect the sickness to be that strong. He was glad now he left. It might have been him suffering and dying. He was especially sorry to hear about Ellnor. Although he disliked him for trying to trick him, he did not want to see the old deer dead.

"I am sorry to hear about that," he said sincerely. "I am sorry so many died, but I am still not interested in coming back."

"Why?" Balin asked as if completely confused. "You would be a senior male. You could have the herd leader's daughter as a mate. You would be respected and liked. Why not come back?"

"Because despite all that you said, I still do not care about your herd. I have no feelings for any of you.  I do not want to be a senior male and I am not looking for a mate."

"That is what I do not understand about you," Balin told him showing some disgust. "Most males would give anything for this and you throw it away."

"I am sorry, but I will not be responsible for a herd that I do not care about," he went on. "In fact, I care about very little. You all be better off without me and I certainly would be better off without you."

"That is foolish," Balin argued. "Ellnor told us before he got sick he felt sure this not caring about anything that you have would pass in time. You would start to act like a normal deer."

He felt like laughing. "No, it is you that are foolish. You think that you caring about me, or me caring about any of you will make one bit of difference to the forest. The forest does not care what we feel. The forest does not care what we do. We are meaningless to the forest. I simply refuse to allow myself to do things that mean nothing and caring about your herd is one of them."

Balin shook his large head in revulsion. "You are not a normal deer."

"I never said I was," he spat out. "I am only a deer that wishes to be left alone."

Balin let out a deep breath. "I will tell Ellis what you said, but he still wants you back. You have not heard the end of this."

"If you are all wise, this is the end of this," he said bluntly. "Try and force me back and there will be blood here. I do not want to fight any of you, but I will if you try and force me back."

"That will be decided by Ellis," Balin said.

"Goodbye, Balin," he said and turned his back on the senior male. He heard Balin walk back the way he came.

He looked around. It was open enough where it would be easy to find him here. If Ellis was serious, he would send several males to bring him back. They could either force him or even kill him trying to bring him back. He could not hide from them here. He had to leave this place. He could not go forward or to his left into the open fields. He could not go back the way he came, he would walk right into Ellis' herd. That left only to the right as the only way to go.

Almost without thinking, he turned to his right and walked into the forest. He stopped several times to make sure he was not being followed. Satisfied he was alone he continued. The stands of trees got thicker as he crossed the stream. There was hardly any brush growing between the trees, and those few bushes were just growing back leaves.  He walked and continued to walk through a warming day. As before he found very small streams he could barely drink out of. He found some acorns and pine nuts to eat. Many of the other plants still looked dead, waiting for the spring to regrow for another season. Up in the trees he noticed some of the birds were starting to build nests. A sure sign spring would be here soon. He walked until the late night when he started to feel tired. He found an open area and lay down. He had just fallen asleep when he heard it.

"Bark," he heard from behind him.

He quickly got up and turned to face the sound. He heard nothing more. The wind was blowing onto his left flank. He could not smell in the direction of the sound. He could not tell if it was a coyote or other dogs. They would not be able to smell him with the wind blowing as it was, nor could he smell them. He hurried anyway. They could come across his scent trail and follow that. He continued to move on and listen. If anything was behind him, they were not following closely. As the greater light was overhead he stopped. Several familiar scents were being blown toward him from deeper in the forest. He took in several large breaths through his nose and found the scent of other deer. These were all doe.

He walked on some ways longer and saw another small stream flowing through the forest. He followed the stream back into the deeper forest and found a small spring. Around the spring were the scents of several doe.  Beyond that spring was a larger clearing. He could tell it had been eaten out during winter, the grass was eaten almost to the ground. Around this clearing there were the scents of several doe. The same ones as around the spring.  He could not pick up a sign of a male. By now the greater light was setting. He decided to rest by the spring and see who would come.

It was late night when he heard movement from the open clearing. He was lying off to the side of the spring, mostly hidden behind some trees. A few moments later the scent of several doe came to him. He remained perfectly still. With the wind, blowing the scent toward him, there was little chance the doe would find him unless he wanted them too. He waited and six doe walked next to the spring. Three were older and heavily pregnant. It was near to the time to give birth to fawns. The other three were now two-season doe and did not look they had bred last season. He watched them come up to the spring and drink their fill. One of the two season doe looked ragged, but the others were fine looking. They must have been food around here somewhere. As one of the older doe bent over to drink, she sudden shot up and turned toward him.

"A male is here," she called out.

So much for being hidden. He slowly stepped out into the open and looked at them. "Greetings," he said with a bow of his head. All six doe looked up quickly and were shocked at his sudden appearance.

"A male, here," one of the older doe called out. They all looked afraid.

"My name is Enna and I will not harm you." he said calmly. "I was moving through the forest and decided to stop here to rest."

"One of the pregnant older doe looked at him. "You are the first deer we have seen since The Season before Man came."

He knew that six doe did not make a herd. Something was wrong here, "What happened to your herd?" he asked.

"They are all gone," the same doe told him. "After the Season, Man came with his dogs and chased us onto the open fields. More Men were there with killing sticks. Afterwards it was only us. Our two senior males and four yearling males were killed along with several doe. Since then we have been here by ourselves."

"Where have you come from?" another of the older doe asked.

"I come from many places," he answered. "I left my old herd and I am now wandering through the forests looking for a place to stay."

"You can stay here," one of the younger doe said. "You are nice looking"

"Wanna, quiet," the first older doe told her.

"Thank you," he said, "But I am not interested in becoming a herd leader or senior male. All I am looking for is shelter." He decided not to mention the possible problem with Ellis' herd.

The doe all looked at each other and started whispering. "Excuse us," the lead doe said and all six walked away." 

He watched them walk away. They were all nice looking. None of them were great beauties, but none of them were ugly either. The younger doe especially would be nice looking by the time The Season came around. Although he was not interested in them, if given the opportunity, he be glad to breed all of them. It was then the six doe came back out.

"If you want to stay here, you are welcomed," the lead doe said. "You do not have to be our leader, but we would ask if you could help protect the fawns when the time comes."

That sounded alright to him. They were not trying to make him stay, and at least they were telling him what they wanted from him. It was not like before when they tried to trick him to stay, these doe wanted him because of what he could do for them. They in turn could be a comfort for him. It was a situation they could both benefit from. To him that made all the difference. He was being asked, not told, or tricked into being here. Most important, he felt they were being honest with him.

"Very well, I will help out the best I can," he said.

"Thank you," the old doe said with a smile. "My name is Laene. The other two are Tela and Asla who are sisters. The three younger doe are Curri, Ila, and Wanna."

"I am pleased to meet all of you," he said again with a bow of his head. "I mostly stay by myself so I will not interfere with you."

"Thank you," Wanna said and looked at him with delight.

It was an interesting arrangement, at first. He stayed by the stream and fed mostly a night. The doe drank at the spring and ate mostly in the day. They looked to have no problems with him being here. There was plenty of food in the forest since there were no other deer in this part of the forest. Food was a little thin. Little near the spring or the clearing had been eaten out. That would soon change as spring continued. There were still acorns, pine nuts from last fall, and new grass starting to grow in the clearing and other open places. As he hoped, he and the doe stayed apart. Being very early spring, there was no need to get close to the doe. That would happen with the approach of the Season. For now, he had no desire for the doe; he felt no deep feelings for any of them. Although he had to admit to himself the idea of being able to breed six doe was interesting. They appreciated his presence and were friendly. That was more than he felt in his own herd.

As winter left the forest and was replaced by spring, the forest broke out into a change. The new leaves were growing back on the trees and brush, many we delicious. The grass started to grow in the clearing. He looked around the forest and even after walking for most of a night in any direction, he found few signs of other deer or anything else. The few deer here meant fewer predators. He looked for signs of any danger, but found only linger traces of a single coyote at times. He and the six doe appeared to have this part of the forest to themselves.

The only thing that bothered him was as he walked around, he occasionally noticed Wanna and Curri following him. Why, he had no idea. It was far too early for them to have an interest in him. One night as he walked toward the end of the forest to looking into the large open field, he heard them again behind him. They were certainly not trained in moving silently. He hid behind some trees and watched the two of them look for him. He hid downwind of them so they did not smell him easily. Still they should have found some sign of him. These young doe looked to know little about how to stay alive in a hostile forest. He thought that since they were young and spent their yearling season alone, they were few deer around to show them what they needed to know. He waited until they passed and then silently stepped out behind them.

"Looking for me," he said sternly. Both turned around quickly, looking frightened. He had surprised them completely.

"We did not see you," Wanna said.

"No and you should of, " he told them. "If I was a bear, you both be dead by now. Do you not know how to look for danger?"

"No danger ever comes around here," Curri explained. “I have never heard of a bear or coyote coming here."

"They are in the forest. I smelled a coyote near here two days ago," he told them.

That also seemed to startle them. They suddenly looked afraid. Wanna finally spoke up in a low voice. "Our mother showed us some things when we were fawns, but she was killed when Man came. After that is was just us."

That is what he thought. He did not want to involve himself in their lives, but they would not last long in a forest where everyone looks at them as food.  "You need to know how to move without being seen if you are to stay alive long," he told them. "Not just from predators. When Man comes back, he could also find you. You have been lucky so far. Luck does not always help. You need to be quiet when you move."

"Can you teach us what we need to know?" Wanna asked nicely.

That was the last thing he wanted to do. The more distant he kept these doe, the better for all of them.  Emotional attachments would only complicate his life here as they had in the other places he lived. Then he looked at them and realized if someone did not teach them, they might not be around come The Season. He knew he might be making another mistake, but he felt trapped. It was show them or maybe not having them around when The Season came.

"I can show you what to do," he said. "I can also show you how to walk quietly through the forest so other animal cannot hear you."

The faces of both young doe lit up like the greater light. "When do we start?" Wanna asked.

"We can start right after we feed," he said "Let us go to the clearing. There is fresh grass there now."

They all went to the meadow and ate, and then he started showing the young doe what his father and Ellnor had taught him. It was not hard. They spent most of the night at it. The doe took what he said seriously which surprised him. They did not strike him as deer who took anything seriously. Ila and the pregnant doe also came over to listen to him. He started with how to approach something if you sense danger. Then he showed them how to hide. He also suggested they walk around in the night and not in the day. There were more predators around during the days and it was easier to see them. When the greater light first showed, they were all tired.

"If you want, I will come tonight and show you more of what I learned," he told them.

"We would like that," Laene said.

With that he left them and went back to his sleeping place. The next night he continued and he made them practice walking, hiding, and looking around. All the things his mother, father, and Ellnor taught him, he taught them. This went on until mid spring.

One night, after he was done he went back to his sleeping place.  He lay down and closed his eyes and was almost asleep when he heard two of the doe coming next to the spring. He thought they came to drink. Instead they both came over towards him. He then thought they were trying to sneak up on him for practice. It was two of the younger doe, Curri and Wanna.

""I can still hear you, but you are quieter," he said with a smile.

They both walked over to where he was and looked down at him.

"Thank you, but that is not why we are here," Wanna said.

"Oh," he asked, "Is something wrong?"

"No," Curri said in a soothing tone of voice. "We wanted to know if you would mind if we slept with you?"

That surprised him. He got up quickly. That idea left him cold. He did not want that. That amount of affection was not something he was willing to give. He would also mean him getting more involved with these two young doe which he did not want. Forming attachments was not something he wanted. He did not feel for them. He wanted no part of them for now, other than to keep them alive for later.

"NO!" he said bluntly. "It is too early in spring to do that. Maybe later when we get closer to The Season, but not now." he told them.

Both looked disappointed and turned around and left him alone without another word. For once he was glad about the silence.

As spring returned in full force, one by one the older doe disappeared into the forest. That was common at this time. Doe did not like having fawns where they could be looked at. Tela was first to go and she came back with a single male fawn a few days later. More by instinct he examined the fawn and found him healthy. While Tela was gone, her sister also disappeared. Two days after Tela came back, Asla came back with a doe fawn, also healthy. Laene was late, but she left and came back with two fawns, a male and a doe. The doe looked good, the male looked a little small. His sister was taller than he was.

He made a point of having as little to do with the fawns as he could. He would not ignore them, but he would not actively play with them. They were not his fawns and he felt no responsibility for any of them. For the most part the fawns stayed close to their mother, which is what most fawns will do at this age. He avoided them all when he could. The fawns would come up to him and wanted to play, he would push them away and see what would happen. He also continued with Curri and Wanna teaching them what he knew.  Although he did not encourage them in the least, he still felt they were growing too close to him.

It was after a mid-spring rain that Laene came to him one day after he had bedded down. He was awakened by her approach and stood up as she came near to him. She was alone, one of the others must be looking after her fawns.

"I wish to talk to you," she said in a serious tone.

 "If you must," he said and expelled a long breath.

"I have seen you with Wanna, Curri and the rest of us. You do not seem to want to get close to any of us."

"That is true," he told her.

"Why, is it because of something we have done?" the large doe asked.

"Not at all," he said. "I do not get close to anyone. I have found getting close to anyone does not do anything for me. I do not have much feelings for other deer. It is not that I dislike you, it is that frankly, I really do not have any feelings for any of you. It is the way I am."

"Why," she said. "Both Wanna and Curri like you. The fawns also like you and you do not play much with them."

He decided he would just tell her. "Whether any of you like me or not means nothing. Whether I like any of you means nothing. Whether I like the fawns or not means nothing. The forest does not care if we like each other. The forest does not care what we do. The forest cares about nothing. It is always here, and we can do nothing about any of it regardless of how we feel for each other or how we act. I do not bother myself with things that I know do not make any difference. Therefore, I do not keep deep feelings for anyone."

Laene took a step back almost in shock. "How can you live like that if nothing means anything for you."

He tried to explain. "I live one day at a time. I am not here for any reason, I am just here. One day I will not be here. The forest will not change. The deer in the forest will not change. Things will go on exactly the same way whether I am here or not, or if you are here or not. What that tells me is that our lives, and our children's lives in the long run mean nothing because our lives will change nothing."

Laene continued to look at him as if he was some vile creature. In a way, he felt sorry for her. She still believed that there was importance in how we feel toward each other. He simply did not believe that.

"Enna, you are the strangest deer I have ever seen," she said. "I feel I have more in common with the bears than we have with you. They will eat me, but only to stay alive. You tell me whether I am alive or not does not mean anything. That my two new fawns will have lives that mean nothing. I do not believe that."

"Believe what you want," he said. "What you chose to believe or not believe will mean nothing to the forest. It will simply continue."

"It will mean something to me," she said loudly."

"As you wish," he answered. "I will not tell you what to do, what to say, who to like, or what to think. Believe what you want and I will believe what I want. There is nothing personal in this. It is just the way I am. Now is there anything else you want to know?"

"I have learned quite enough," she said abruptly.

"Then if you do not mind, I will lie down and sleep," he said getting down on his knees.

Laene turned and stormed away from the spring.

Their talk had some effect because after that, both Curri and Wanna never came back to him again. The only time he ever saw the doe or the fawns again was when they all came to the spring to drink. Even then, they said nothing to him. That was fine with him.

That was how spring passed with him mostly alone. They did not ask him to leave and he felt like he had no reason not to go as before. All the fawns grew larger with the exception of Laene's male fawn. It did not grow like the others and did not run like the others. He realized early on that male fawn would not survive the winter, that is if he even lived that long. The other fawns were growing normally. Sometimes he would watch them playing; however, any time any of them approach, their mothers would call them back. Just because he did not feel any affection toward the fawns, he was never going to hurt them. It was turning to late spring when one morning after he bedded down, he was awakened by footsteps. It was Curri and she was trying to be quiet.

"That is good," he told her. "You are learning."

Curri ignored the comment and spoke to him like she would to a tree. "Laene would like you to come and look at her fawn. There is something wrong with it. We know you do not care about the fawn, but could you look at it. We hope you may know what is wrong."

"Very well," he said and allowed Curri to lead him to Laene's resting place. There lay the little male fawn fidgeting heavily and fighting to breath.

"Can you look at him," Laene asked.

"Yes," he said and leaned over and smelled little brown spotted figure. He sniffed the fawn. It did not smell normal. As he smelled along the flank he could pick up odors of decay from inside the little body. This fawn would not live long. He then stood up and looked around. There were three other healthy fawns here. He knew what would happen once the fawn died. He looked up and looked at Laene.

He tried to be respectful, but there was no good way to say this. "I am sorry, but your male fawn is dying. He will not live much longer. There is decay already inside of him. You must all take your fawns and go someplace else and leave that fawn here."

"But he will die," Laene said looking at him in horror.

"There is nothing that will stop that," he said calmly. "What matters is this. Once the fawn dies, it will bring the scavengers. They will come for the fawn and eat the remains as they do to any dead deer. If you are around with the others fawns, they may go after the healthy fawns also. Perhaps they will also go after you if you are nearby. That is why you must leave here."

"My son will die alone and in agony," Laene said loudly. "I cannot do that."

"You must, otherwise what I told you will happen," he said.

"If you stay here you can protect him," Laene told him.

He looked down at the male fawn. Whether he was here or not would make no difference and he knew it. He was not going to risk himself for fawn that was about to die anyway.

"No," he commanded. "I will not stay with that fawn. I will not protect that fawn. I will go with you if you leave so no harm comes to the rest of you, but that fawn is already dead. There is no sense in anyone else dying."

Laene looked shocked at his response. "You do not care about that fawn, or me or anything else," Laene spat out. "You care about nothing. That is what you told me. Well that is my fawn and I care about it. If you cared about anything you would stay here."

Now he was getting mad and told her angrily, "Do you care enough about that fawn to risk yourself and your other fawn. That is what you are doing. If you wish to do that, go ahead. I told you before I will not tell you what to do, but I will not risk myself because of it. Neither you or your fawns should be risked because you are too stupid to realize this." He turned to face the other doe standing next to him. "What I told Laene is the truth. If you want to leave and go someplace else until the scavengers are finished here, then I will go with you. If you want to stay here with Laene, that is your decision. I will not remain."

"Then GO!" Laene shouted. "Leave and go find someplace else to live. I don't want you here. You care about nothing. This is my fawn and I will not leave him."

He again turned to face the other doe. "What about the rest of you. Will you stay or go?"

The five looked at him in silence. All looked to afraid to speak. They just stood there. Finally, Tela walked over to Laene and stood next to her. The other doe followed. If that was their decision, so be it. It was not his.

"Very well," he said to all of them.

With that he turned and left the clearing and walked past the spring. He followed the small stream back to where it flowed out of the forest into the large open field. He accepted that he was no longer welcome here. Just before he got to the open field he stopped and looked back. No one was coming. He turned to the right and walked into the deeper forest.

 

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