Enna Part III

Part III of my story

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3. Chapter Eleven: Realization

 

“Enna, are you here?” he heard someone call.

He moved quietly toward the sound. He saw the young male through the trees. It was Lakco. He came in behind him. The young male never heard him.

“Did you want me?” he asked.

Lakco jump up half a length when he spoke. “Ahhhhh,” he cried out.

He smiled broadly. He was still good for something. “You should listen better. It may be a bear next time sneaking up on you. Now what do you have to tell me?”

Lakco swallowed hard and hesitated before he went on. “Enna, the herd males sent me. They held a gathering and most of the deer said they no longer wanted you as herd leader. They want you gone.”

“No surprise there,” he said out loud. “Very well, the herd will not see me again except in passing. Who is going to be herd leader now?”

Certist, because he was the oldest,” the young male said still seeming nervous.

“That deer is too afraid to do anything,” he said with a smile. “The herd gets the leader they deserve. You will all realize that soon. Hopefully before you are all dead.”

The young male looked shocked at what he said. “What will you do, Enna?” the young male stammered out.

“Leave,” he said flatly. ‘I only stayed because I had hope the herd come to is senses, but they did not so I am leaving right now.”

 

With that he started to climb the hill. He was going in the direction of the large pines. Maybe he could find the deer he and Guan found before. In any case, he was not coming back here.

“Goodbye, Enna,” Lakco called from behind.

He could not believe the herd blamed him for Man’s hunts. He remembers something his father told him long ago. “Most deer cannot lead. Other deer can lead, but are afraid to. Other deer lead and then fail. Only a few can lead and know they are the best for leading.”

What did that make him? It did not matter. He always knew the forest did not care. All he wished was that the forest would at least not oppose him. Since Artose and his family died, it has been one disaster after another. Artose taught him that he should care about the herd. He should care because he wanted to, and because few others would. Well he did care and what did it bring him: dead mates, dead fawns, dead senior males, dead friends, and then kicked out. It seemed a poor reward for his efforts. Now this herd did not want him. Very well, then the herd can live with the result. He no longer cared about them.

The first light of day was appearing. He went toward the trees. He did not go back to where he was before. He had no desire to see what remained of his friends and family after the scavengers were done with them. He gave that place a wide berth and instead found some trees to hide in just as the greater light started to rise. He stopped and slept well for the first time in many days.

The day passed in quiet. No sounds of Man or killing sticks. As soon as it was dark, he continued on. He ate grass from the open field and drank from a pool of water. He walked all night until he picked up several scents from nearby deer. He looked onto the field, but saw no sign of them. They must have already fed and went back into the shelter of the forest. He found a small stream. Near it there were the scents of at least five deer. They came here to drink. That would make this a good place to rest. He walked around the strange forest and smelled if there was any danger here. He smelled a bobcat, but that was all. He wandered through the tall stands of oak trees for a while before going back to the stream to rest there for the day.

When he woke up, the greater light was setting. He got up and went away from the stream. He then emptied himself. He then started to eat the leaves on nearby bushes. Shortly after it was dark, he could hear and smell deer moving nearby. He stood away from the stream and waited for the deer to approach. He saw the male he had spoken to before and several doe with fawns. He waited until they all drank before he called out.

“Greetings,” he said.

The doe sprang to attention and one started to run.

“Please do not run away. I will not harm you,” he told them and then slowly walked out so they could see him better.

“Who are you,” the male called out.

“I am Enna,” he said.

“I remember you,” the male said looking him over. “You were one of the lost deer that came this way. Are you lost again?”

“No I am not lost,” he said.

“Then why are you here?” the male said looking at him carefully.

“I am here because I want to be here,” he said with a smile. “It seems like a nice spot.”

“Why are you not with your herd?” the male continued to ask.

“That is a long story,” he answered. “If you like and have the time, I will tell it to you.”

“I am listening,” the male said anxiously.

He told his story from the time of his last visit until now. It was not a pleasant story to tell, but the other deer seemed fascinated. When he was done, he approached the stream to drink some water. The doe stepped back in fear of him, so he did nothing to frighten them.

“You tell an interesting tale,” the male said. “So, you are out on your own?”

“I am,” he said. “I decided to come here. You told me your do not have a herd here. Well I am also not interested in starting or being a part of a herd.”

He looked at the male. He was nice size, but was he strong, he did not think so. If the male did start something he could finish it.

“If you have not come to hurt anyone, you are welcome here,” the male told him.

He nodded his head in thanks. “That is fine. I will find a bedding place in the forest. You may tell you doe they can approach me. I will not harm them.”

“Thank you,” the male said. “I am called Icar.”

“I am Enna,” he explained. “Are you the only male here?”

“Except for the fawns,” Icar told him. “Most of us came from Artose’s herd. He is a good deer, but I did not like how he treated some deer. The doe came because they did not care for some of Artose’s senior males. Now that you tell me they are all dead, so I guess that no longer matters.”

“No, it does not,” he repeated. “Some of his teachings will go on, but it will be very hard for that herd to continue. They have no one there to guide them, and on their own they are foolish.”

“Because they asked you to leave?” Icar asked.

He could see where this was going and he did not like it. “Not for that,” he said remaining calm. “It is because they ask me to leave because they blamed me for something I had no control over. It was not my fault Artose and the senior males were killed, it was not my fault that Guan was killed, and it is not my fault that Man came and killed every deer he could find.”

“Maybe you should not have attacked those Men,” Icar continue.

“I did not attack them,” he told the male. “I was running for my life and I ran over them. If I would have stood still where I was, they would have killed me too.”

“Perhaps,” Icar said with a coldness in his voice. “However, that is no longer important. What has been done cannot be undone.”

With that Icar led the doe away from him and into the open field. He followed them and ate his fill of the grass. It did not seem as most or tasty as the grass in the meadows back at the herd, but it would do to satisfy his hunger.

The next few night passed in quiet. Neither Icar of his doe came to visit him. During his second morning here, he heard the clanging noise far in the distance. At least none of the Men came this way. The question to himself was now what. Did stay here and just live out his life, or should he leave this forest and try and find another herd. He did not know what to do so he remembered what Artose told him. “You should do what you feel like doing.”

Right now, he felt like doing nothing. The herd’s rejection of him still hurt, but he would never go back there. The deer here were nice, but did not go out of their way to talk with him. They accepted his presence, because they could not do anything about it. He was the strongest male here. Some of the doe looked nice enough to try and breed. That time was coming. His rack has almost grown out except where he injured it when he hit Delac. The days went on with nothing to bother him. To keep from getting bored, he decided to take a walk. He went through the stands of pine, walnut and oak and came out onto the field near the Man cave he and Guan had seen before. He picked his way carefully through the scrub brush until he came upon the Man vines near the Man cave. The brush and trees were shorter here, but tall enough to hide him. He decided to rest there were he could clearly see the Man caves.

There were several Man caves. The biggest cave was long and narrow and noted that some of the animals he had tried to talk to in the field were there. A Man walked into the cave and a short while came out on top of another animal much bigger than himself. They moved away from the cave into the open field.

A small Man went to a smaller cave. He saw small birds running along the ground in front of that cave. They made a racket. The small Man went into the small cave and came out with what looked like bird eggs. Another small Man went what looked like a large pile of dried grass and carried some into the long cave. He did this many time and then took other dried grass out. His nose told them that the animals inside that cave had emptied themselves on the dried grass. From time to time he could heard animal noises from inside the long Man cave. Toward afternoon he saw two dogs come out of the Man cave that had smoke coming from the top. They moved around the open area as if looking for something. He was still too far away to be smelled. Just before the greater light set, one large Man came out and went into another of the caves and got something out of it and carried it back. Almost immediately he could smell burning meat. At least is was not from a deer. Just as the greater light sat, the animal and the Man came back. Man put the large animal into the long cave and then went inside the other cave.

All of that was interesting. As soon as it was fully dark he left his resting place and started to eat grasses and leave. The only problem was there was no water. He got up and walked near the Man vines until he saw the raised pond again. He easily jumped over the vines and went to the pond to drink. He filled himself and then went back over the vines into the shelter of the scrub brush. He walked around the scrum brush all night, and other that the bobcat, he smelled nothing.

He rested in the same place the next day and watched the Man cave. As before, one of the tall men came out, got on his animal and left. Before long the two smaller Men and another large Man got into to a Man animal and left. Just after they did the Man and his animal came back with another animal from the field. The Man then went inside his cave and came out a while later carrying something. He wondered what it was until he raised it. It was a killing stick. He thought about running, but did not. The Man pointed the killing stick at the animal he brought in from the field.

“WHAM!” sounded. The animal fell over and lay still.

The Man then took out a claw and started to cut the now dead animal into pieces. He took each piece and put it in the small cave. When he was finished all that was left was a blood stain on the ground. He took some of the leg bones and gave them to his dogs. The Man then went inside the small building and soon smoke came out of the top. Man had started a fire. The tall Man then went into the other Man cave. What he saw bothered him. He only thought Man killed deer like that. Now he knew Man kills other animals as well. Did this mean Man had control over all the other animals? He did not know what to think. He stayed where he was and tried to get some sleep, but all he could see was that animal being cut to pieces by Man.

That night he went back to his forest. He had seen all he wanted to. He reached his normal resting spot as the greater light came up. He rested again until it was night fall. He went out into the open field and there was feeding Icar and several doe.  He got close to them and started to eat. After a while Icar came over to him.

“I have not seen you for a few risings of the greater light,” he said. “Did you go somewhere.”

He thought about his answer and then just opened up and told him about everything he saw. When he was done, Icar looked the same. Nothing of what he had said seemed to bother him.

“Does this bother you?” he asked.

“No,” the male said. “None of that bothers me. “

“Why?” he asked. “It bothers me that Man just gets to kill anything he wants to and no one stops him.”

“What can you do about, Enna,” Icar said with harshness. “What can any of us do about it. I will tell you, we can do nothing. I do not worry about things that I cannot control. I work only with things I can do something about like staying alive, or finding food, or looking out for my herd of doe. If you worry about things you cannot control, you will drive yourself mad.”

He listened carefully to the male. What he said made sense.

“That may be true,” he said and then looked over the doe.

“Thank you,” he said sincerely and pointed toward the feeding doe. “May I ask if all of them are yours.”

Icar smiled broadly. “That would be too much even for me. I have three or four that I like. The rest are yours. Actually, since you are stronger than me, you get the pick, I do not.”

He smiled. “No, you pick out the ones you want and I will look after the rest. I am no longer going to act like a senior male. My herd leader days are over.”

“That is a wise decision, Enna,” the male said.

Summer continued onward. He could feel his body getting larger. Come the spring he be a five-season male. He would then be as old has his father had been when he died. He stayed with Icar and his small herd. He even got to know many of the doe who stopped being afraid of him when he showed he was not interested in making himself the leader. It was a peaceful time. It was refreshing, calming and boring as can be. He hated to admit it, but at least as a senior male or herd leader, he was seldom bored. He spent his time wandering through this part of the forest. He did get to know it fairly well and discovered two small springs where he could drink. He also found berry bushes that provided food other than grasses and leaves. There were even some acorns on the ground. There was enough food here to keep twice as many deer as they had here satisfied.  He wondered why there were not more deer here, but as far as he walked, he could not find any deer. Not just deer, but most of the larger animals were not here.

From time to time he heard the clanging noise now well off in the distance. It was a part of his past that no longer had meaning for him. Sometimes he could hear a killing stick from his old forest. He was often curious enough to go look at his former forest, but he did not go. One reason was the herd had made it quite clear what they thought of him. The herd got what they wanted. He hoped they were happy about it.  The other reason he never went was, if he did go, it would only force him to get involved in a situation he no longer wanted to care about. Being herd leader no longer had the same draw on him.

As summer ended his rack grew out. One of the three-season doe told him it was a great rack. The biggest she had seen. He didn’t care much about that anymore. He was at the time of his life where such things have less meaning than before. For now, he was satisfied, if not happy. He was doing things because he wanted to and not because other deer wanted him too. Soon his rack started to itch and he spend time cleaning the skin off his rack. Icar’s rack was nice, but not as large as his.

It was after stripped off the skin on his rack that one night he caught a familiar scent in the air as he ate in the open field. It was the scent of a male deer and it was not Icar. He went over to talk to Icar.

“Some male deer is coming,” he told him.

“I hope it does not mean trouble,” Icar fretted.

“Just stand by me and try to look unafraid,” he told him and turned toward the doe. “Go hide in the forest until we see what this deer wants,” he told them. They all left at once. “He might just be a wanderer or someone else leaving the herd.”

The scent was different. If was not a deer he knew. It was not a powerful scent. The deer was not mature. As he looked, a yearling male appeared out of the darkness and almost stumbled into them, before he realized they were there. He stood silent and erect until the male was several lengths away from him.

“Can I help you?” he called out in a stern voice.

The yearling pulled up short obviously surprised they were there. “Who are you.”

He let out an audible laugh. “If I was a bear or a pack of coyote, you would be a meal right now. Now come forward. I will not hurt you.”

The yearling stepped forward. His small immature rack showing this was not going to be a large male when he grew up. Here was another herd male. No future with him. The yearling finally got close enough where he could smell them.

“You are Enna,” he said sounding amazed. “I remember your scent from the herd. I was hoping to find you.”

“Well you found me, so now what?” he asked.

“Enna, could you please come back to the herd?” the male asked.

That caught him by surprise. “Why, you all asked me to leave?”

“It is bad. No one listens to Centrist. There are always fights. Man comes and we do nothing. It seems like Centrist has no idea what to do. He looks scared all the time.”

“So far that was nothing he did not expect. “Why did they send you?”

“They did not send me. I came because I knew when Man comes with the Season, many more of us will die. We need a deer like you to lead us.”

Well at least one deer could think even if he wasn’t very strong. He also had courage to come here alone. That showed some promise.

“I will tell you and you can tell the herd that I am not leaving here,” he said. “They asked me to go and I went. They will have to get along without me.”

“But what of the herd?” the male pleaded.

“Again, this is not my concern. The herd asked me to leave,” he repeated. “I am not going back.”

The male backed up a step. “Then many in the herd will die come The Season.”

“I know that,” he said.

“Including me,” the male spat out.

“That is also true,” he said and then decide to try and help this male. “What I suggest to you is as soon as you feel The Season come upon you, go to the tall oak trees a night’s walk from here toward the doe clearing. Stay there hidden until your rack falls out. Then you will be safe. You are too small and too young to chase a doe this Season. Man also likes to kill only larger males, not yearlings, but they might kill you. When winter starts, get as much food as you can. Once you become a two-season male, you will have a better chance living with the herd males. Next Season you will be able to chase a doe.”

The male just looked at him in disbelief as if not believing anything he just said. “Goodbye,” he told them abruptly and then turned his back on them and walked back the way he came.

“That was a little hard on him,” Icar said after the male was gone. “After all he did take a chance in coming here.”

“I know,” he said. “That is why I gave him the best advice I could, but I am not going back to that herd.”

Icar looked directly at him with a stern face. “If you are not going back because you truly no longer want to be a herd male, that is one thing. If you are not going back to punish the herd for asking you to leave, that is something else.”

He looked down at the mature male getting a little angry. “Icar, this is my concern. I understand what you are trying to do, but do not get involved in things that do not concern you. You taught me that if you remember.”

“So I did,” Icar said and turned and walked away.

Now his rack was full and he felt ready for The Season. He could see some of the doe were interested in him. A few would rub their sides again him. For now, he was satisfied, if not happy. He and Icar sometimes even spared, but it was not serious fighting.  He even showed the smaller male some of the tricks he learned.

The leaves on the trees turned color and started to drop off. When that happened, he started to smell the scents doe give off when they go into The Season.  He started to feel the pressure built up in his body. As soon as that happened he went to the field while the other were eating. As he saw the smaller male, he felt the desire to fight him, but that was just The Season. Icar stood up straight and lowered his head. He was feeling the pressure too. He stopped several lengths away.

“Icar, The Season is here,” he said loud enough for all of them to here. “When that happens, even friends will fight each other. I do not want to fight you and it is unnecessary. There are enough doe for each of us. I think you should take the doe you want and leave here until the season passes.”

He could clearly see the male realized, as he did, that fighting would accomplish nothing. Icar nodded his head. “That is wise, Enna. I will leave now. I am feeling the Season too.”

Icar then turned and talked to all the doe. He then left and four doe followed him. That left five does standing in the open. By now this year’s fawns had left their mothers, but they were still around. He walked over to the doe now standing in a group.

“The Season is upon us,” he told them. “If you all wish, I will breed you when the time comes. If you do not want me to breed you. You should leave now and comeback after The Season is over.”

None of the doe moved. It was going to be an interesting Season.

It was a tiring Season, but fortunately for him, all five doe did not all come into season at the same time. Over several risings of the greater light he managed to breed all of them. The three-season doe that had rubbed his side before was particularly attentive to him. By the time he was done, he knew he had insured that his fawns would be here next spring. The idea that he could breed them made him happy inside. His two sons he lost with Curri and Wenna still hurt him, but at least these fawns would continue. It made him look forward to the spring. None of the doe kept their interest of him after The Season was over. Being honest, he did not feel much for them either. Soon he was sleeping alone again. Two risings later Icar and his doe came back. From the scents they carried, he could smell that Icar bred his doe also. So that made it more interesting in the spring.

Shortly afterwards he started to hear the sounds of killing sticks off in the distance where his old herd was at. He hoped Man would not kill all the deer. He also hoped that male they met followed his advice. Looking back now he regretted not asking him his name. Now that The Season was over, he had to concentrate in getting as much food inside him to help him through the winter. There were lots of acorns and lots of berries which he ate when he could find them. The air also started to turn cooler. He had made it through another year.

It started out as an ordinary night. He moved and ate and drank, yet he decided to rest near the edge of the forest that night. As the greater light rose, the light turned the open field and the trees around it golden. It was like the morning long ago when he stood on the top of his hill and came to understand what Artose had taught him.  He suddenly felt an inward peace. He did not know if that feeling was caused by the greater light, or his breeding of several doe, or just because he felt strangely at calm

He remembered when he came to Artose’s herd he cared about nothing and that nothing really mattered to him. Now he understood that was his first mistake: thinking the forest should care about him. The forest could not care about him, or even acknowledge he existed. It was not alive, did not feel like he did. The forest existed, nothing more. There was no hatred of the forest toward him because the forest did not feel like he felt. He was alive, the forest was just here. He would care, but only in those things that mattered to him. That was his choice because he was the one who saw and felt the flow of life around him. When Icar told him, you should only care about things in life you have control over, that seemed to answer most of his questions. He could decide who to lead, who to breed, who to teach, and from whom he would learn. Man, storms, winter and spring he had no control, so they just happened as they did. He had to adapt toward them, not the other way around. He had cared enough about Artose’s herd because he felt it was the best herd he had seen. He felt it should go on even after the forest took them away. When that herd rejected him for things that were beyond his ability to control, then he knew that he could not be their leader. They would have to work it out for themselves, because that was their lives. He could not live their lives for them. They had the right to choose and they had. He then had the right to react, and he did. In the end, it was this freedom to choose that controlled their lives.

In a moment to clarity he realized that the freedom to choose is what defined him, not the forest. He was free to do what he wanted, when he wanted. That lead into what Icar said. Care about things you can control. All the rest was just things that filled his brain with unnecessary worry. Why worry when you cannot change what you worry about. It was useless. That understanding freed his mind from all the other things he could not control. That realization also led to the peace he suddenly felt.

Then what could he do? He could live as he felt he should. He could breed more doe so part of him would continue after he was gone. He could choose to be the deer he wanted to be and not the deer everyone else wanted. He would no longer care about other things like position.  In that peace of mind, he suddenly opened himself to the indifference of the forest and all the other things he could not control. The realization came upon him: he would continue, and then he would not: in his freedom to choose, he would decide what to do as he decided best: in his ability to cast off unnecessary worry, he would no longer fill his mind with meaningless concerns, in his desire to be what he wanted to be, he would the deer he was meant to be.  He realized that he felt at peace because he finally understood his place in the forest.

It all crystalized in his head and he felt relaxed. He slowly got and took one last look at the open field. He turned to go into the deeper forest.

As he turned he felt something hit his side. Inside his head, he saw a bright light and then nothing. The bullet that hit him in his flank had exploded his heart and lungs.

He was dead before he hit the ground.

 

 

The End

 

 

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