Some days, she is a hare. Hopping and leaping and dashing away from me. Ears prick when she hears me approaching. Wide green eyes observe until she decides I am too close for comfort. Then she is gone with a flick of her cotton tail.
Some days, she is a fox. Watching me with a growing boldness as I try to sketch her. It’s definitely her. I could never mistake those eyes. They looked otherworldly in her hare form but today they nestle comfortably like emeralds in her red fox fur. She lets me get about halfway through my sketch before she runs.
Some days, she is a field mouse. I barely even notice her at first. It takes her practically standing on my shoe before I see her there. The green eyes make her look like a tiny ornament and not at all like a real mouse. Whiskers and nose twitch, sniffing me out and working out how much she can trust me. I make the mistake of lowering my hand and she vanishes. At least, I think she does. Before leaving altogether, she stealthily sneaks around me and steals some berries from my lunch pail.
Some days, she is a dog. A strikingly happy border collie. As soon as I enter the field, she barks. Her playful face is all smiles and her tongue lolls out of the side of her mouth, making her look ridiculous. Not knowing which form she would take today, I brought apple slices. I throw one her way and she catches it with glee. Next slice is mine and then we comfortably share a small lunch together. Once the food is gone, she bounds before me and her green eyes glimmer with joy. She eggs me on with yips and howls and I quickly give in. Hitching up my skirts until my legs are mostly free, I grin, knowing that I look just as ridiculous as her. We run through the field without a care in the world. My heart pounds and the fresh air burns at my lungs. But it doesn’t matter and I don’t care. We fall about laughing and she licks my face while I scratch her ears. I feel free.
She jerks her head up as if she hears something I cannot. Before I can reach out to her again, she scarpers in a panic.
I sit alone until the farmer calls for me. My lunch break has overrun.
Some days, the farmer does not let me go for a walk at lunch. He makes me sit in the kitchen with the other milk maids, listening to their mindless prattle. It’s so noisy in this bloody kitchen. I while away the time by staring out of the window and nodding whenever they ask me one of their pointless questions. None of them are interested in me, they just like listening to the sound of their own voices. I sigh and hurry through my lunch. I hate it here.
Some days, she does not come alone.
The farmer has finally started letting me go for walks again. But when I reach the field, there is a great stag waiting down by the river. Waiting for me. It does not have green eyes.
He looks me up and down and takes all of me in. A snort escapes his huge nostrils, letting me know exactly what he thinks of me. I do not move. He lifts his head high. I see the full glory of his antlers and it is a terrifying beauty.
For a fleeting moment, I imagine the horror of being impaled on them. My feet stay rooted to the spot, as if that will save me.
There is a commotion across the field and another deer nears. Green eyes flash with panic. She rushes over and stands between us. She pants as if she has been running for a long time and has come a long way but still, she manages to stand strong. A silent confrontation goes on between stag and doe. It feels like it lasts for an eternity. Eventually, the stag rears up on his hind legs and cries out angrily. Front hooves land with a stomp and he storms off, defeated. This time, at least. I fear he may return.
She turns to me and lowers her head. I press my forehead to her soft fur and rub her neck. We can only stay like this for a moment before me both must return to our mundane lives.
Most days now, we cannot meet. But on those days when we do – few and far between as they are – we run. And we run. And we run. We treat each meeting as if it is our last.
Those days, we feel alive.
Emma Kathryn is a horror fanatic from Glasgow, Scotland. You can find her on Twitter @girlofgotham. When she’s not scaring herself to death, she is either podcasting as one half of The Yearbook Committee Podcast or she’s streaming indie games on Twitch.
photo by Elisa Stone (via unsplash)