Pretty Doe

Peeing, crouching between two doors of a car in a layby. A dead ditch and bitter; beyond fields so green they’re violent like church spires and a man growling, “Can’t you read the damn map, woman?” Busy lorries shudder past and shake everything; a splodge of mayonnaise on my summer skirt, fine red lines on my ankles. A few years and I’ll have become my mother. It might rain, a headache coming on and many miles to go.

Hops clean over the hedge and settles into the passenger seat as if she’d just got out to stretch her legs, impatient to be on with her journey. Hares are big animals, even the females.  Long, cloudy ears surprisingly strong; her feet are huge. No point telling her to belt up, she’s not my son. He’s at home telling my ex-husband that I’ve run away again. They roll their kind eyes.

She’s quiet as flight so I do the talking. Of course it’s not running away exactly, not like other times. I never got far in school uniform, embracing cold platforms until my father appeared. Driving home in silence. I swore I would never let them down again. She sniffs disapproval and rolls down the window. I’m avoiding the issue.

I’m not as defiant as I was. Chose a man over boredom and squeezed so hard he popped. My son had just learnt his name and looked out windows in disappointment. She flutters her long lashes with impatience. She’s right: I don’t know where I’m going. She falls into a fitful sleep of loons and bone-thin leverets.

The next big thing, indulge, have a man go crazy, open the fridge and find peace, a plane out, forever turquoise, sex on a stick, rolling bubbles that tickle, sleek diving, wealth, the same joy my son has with dinosaurs or snow days. I’m scratchy, impatient, losing my shine.

This doe is silk and still now. I turn the radio to Neil Young but low. She twitches, stretches, wakes, looks gently but offers no counsel. I’m too much even for her. Her eyes are worthy of songs.

We drive in silence watching green fields streak, getting farther from our homes, a pretty doe and a restless mother.

She’s tense now, strong legs twitching, craning forward until her forehead rests on the windscreen. She’s looking for something too, but gives scant details and grinds her teeth. I know I could be going faster but that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past. Surely she understands that.

She starts kicking impatiently. I regret into the forecourt of a lonely petrol station. She smells the air around, tells me I should go all the way or just go home. Some people are there for the ride and that ride isn’t always an adventure. With a flick she sleeks away. I sob into the wheel until dusk then turn that car around.

Julia Ruth Smith
Julia Ruth Smith

Julia Ruth Smith is a mother, teacher, and writer. She lives by the sea in Italy. Her writing has been published by Flash Frog, Miniskirt Mag, and Reflex Fiction, and she will appear in the Bath Flash Fiction Anthology for this year. She has recently been nominated for Best of the Net by Full House Lit and a Pushcart by Seaside Gothic. You can find her on Twitter @JuliaRuthSmith1 or at the beach.