The Accidental Miracle

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James Horner “Nash Descends Into Parcher’s World”

The first I knew of the accident was my mother’s frantic cry
“Baby, look out!”
It’s funny
Even in flirtation with disaster and devastation, she still found the time to apply such terms of endearment
A split second later, the car ground to a screeching, skidding halt
But not before a shunt so all-encompassing that I surrendered the half completed Rubix from my excitable grasp
At the one and only forceful time of asking

The next few moments felt like an entire life cycle spinning by way of freeze frame and I wondered if I’d ever get to see the beach again
That was where we had been headed on this day
My parents took us to the same place every summer
Such was time-honored tradition
Only, this was the middle of the coldest winter on record
And unfamiliar to the route I recalled from vacations passed
My sisters huddled together whimpering as they echoed my mother’s high anxiety
Yet, dad remained strangely calm in the driver’s seat as he removed both hands from the wheel and released his seat belt

Come to think of it, I seldom ever saw him anything but serene
You could place him before the Spanish inquisition
And he still wouldn’t surrender sense of calm
Mom instinctively checked her babies to make sure we had arrived at absolutely no harm
While my father very simply checked his mirror
Assuming then the role that he had always hoped not to be required to undertake in the presence of his loved ones
Protector of parity
In honor, not only, of the family he cherished more dearly than anything else in his world
But also the dying wish of the stag rapidly bleeding out on the roadside in result of the collision

As he stepped out of the vehicle and the bitter winds rushed in to steal my frozen breath away, I spotted its eight-strong spray of antlers through the tiniest crack in the door
Curiously, the only part of this fine creature absolutely in tact
Its red guts were spilling out into the formerly untouched quilt of snow beneath its twitching carcass
Painting this pale canvas with the insignia of the very saddest and most inescapable fact of life

Labored breath clouds grew thinner
End drew ever nearer
My father’s strong hands gripped all eight forward curving points at once
Preparing for the sudden jerk required to cease its suffering
My eyes duly widened as my tidy little existence was about to get real messy in a matter of seconds
Although, something told me everything was going to be alright
No question, this handsome beast was a solitary act of mercy from dying
But, in this moment, its eyes were even wider than mine
And I could discern something most distinctive inside them
Aside from the subsonic shock and pained acceptance that is
Light dancing amidst the thickening mist of imminent foreclosure
This stag a portrait of quietest composure
As my father jerked hard enough to snap its neck like a dead twig in one fluid motion
And dropped straight to his knees, sobbing uncontrollably

The girls were devastated by what they had witnessed at the cost of a fair throng of their innocence
Whereas, I was more fascinated than anything
Entranced by the liquid movements of a soul no longer confined
Privy to quite possibly the entire universe in one final blink of an eye
As the blustering snow no longer blinded so
I’d never heard my father cry before
Never seen him ordained to kill before
But his lonesome tears proved to be short-lived
For the spirit of this animal trotted with sure foot and demure into the long stretch of his shadow forlorn
Reassuring there was nothing whatsoever to forgive or forget
That he had done the only humane thing given unsuggestible circumstances
Should therefore feel blessed for resisting the arrest of development undressed by accidental calamity
Before launching into its measured stride
Beckoning I lend chase, take my place at its side

Inside the car, I sat in a momentary state of comatose
Relinquished of the essence of never prior ventured storm rider
And, very simply, not there

Outside it felt considerably warmer
Even in such harsh sub-zero conditions
And despite the fierce blizzard
Something to do with the heat of pursuit
As the stag raced deep into the still beating heart of the surrounding woods
Darting through the parting trees with an embarrassment of grace and ease
In the dance of the finally free
With apt pupil in tow, both huddled close within its slipstream and ever more distantly drifting
A vision in death’s sweet revision

Had I unwittingly befriended the end?
Or could this be just a means to something infinitely more exquisite?
I always was an inquisitive child
Indeed, what kid isn’t
But, as I reached for the phantom antlers with both hands outstretched to touch the void of this Rubix-esque prism
It pulled gently away
As though to say
Not yet

This isn’t your elected expedition
Your eyes still need to widen more
The soul within you needs to be adored by its beholder
Before it can run truly wild and free
Before it can adoringly be seen
One fine day
When you’re older and smarter
You will understand
Now go become a man
Like your father
No doubt I shall be seeing you again
At the grand feast of hereafter
Sooner still if you believe that I never got away
For now, I impart the sweet gift of inception
Upon such time as you are ready
Come find me
You will know where to look and with the right pair of eyes

I stared at my reflection in the frosted rear window from safely inside the vehicle once more
And shed a solitary tear in crimson
Which I still keep in a jar
Beneath my bed
And every night when I rest my head
I smile
Just as my father did upon his return to the car

The stag is never far away
Indeed, I sleep with its eight-pointed antlers above my head to this very day
And, each and every last time I compose my sleepy eyes in lullaby
Recline in the familiar warmth of my pillow
I ride the snow by its dignified side
Match it stride for magnificent stride
And, very simply, check my mirror

Richard Charles Stevens

Keeper of The Crimson Quill

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1 Comment

  1. This emotionally beautiful work reminds me of the many mercy freeing of souls dad and I carried out when we lived in Scotland. The country code MUST be adhered to. Rabbits leaped up over their furry costumes back into the warren. Owl impaled mice scurrying away too quickly to notice what had happened. And the many many birds continued to sing. Aw, I really love this one. At the face of it it’s tragedy but ultimately it’s love. Curiosity and compassion. Your dad was the stag’s (not slags, silly auto correct!) hero. I love how we both have this shared childhood experience 🥀

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