She took off her shoes and followed one of the paths the deer had made among the trees.


Dora loved to work in the garden. The feel of the rich, warm earth sifting through her fingers always took her into a world of peacefulness. In the garden, she even forgot the sweat soaking her auburn hair and cascading down her face.  This afternoon, the banter of chickadees in her favorite linden tree was punctuated by a rattling sound like dried leaves in autumn.

Looking to her right, she saw nuthatches taking off and landing. Their wings made the rustling sound that had caught her attention.

The linden lay in the untouched woods just beyond the land she had been cultivating. Leaving her tools behind, she walked to the tree and gently explored its rough bark.. She could feel the exuberant sap just below it, surging to the top of the tree.

Curious, she discovered a miniature shoot with tiny leaves just beyond her fingertips. She began nibbling on them, tasting their vague lime flavor.  She felt like one of the mule deer she often saw coming out of the woods at sunset.

She took off her shoes and followed one of the paths the deer had made among the trees.  It led to a meadow with a stream sparkling over a natural rock bed.  Overcome by thirst, she lay on her stomach and siphoned the water with her mouth, drinking without stopping to catch her breath. Satisfied, she rolled on her back, willing herself to absorb the delicate scent of the wildflowers covering the bank of the stream.

Butterflies began landing on her motionless body, their wings gently kissing her face.  She joined their intricate mating dance without moving until their colors blurred into the background and the cadence of the stream called her to join it at its source.     At the spring the sun promised twilight and perhaps a glimpse of the deer’s nightly amble. Caught by a movement to her left, she saw a deer peering hesitantly from between two yearling trunks. The doe held her head high, evaluating Dora.  Perhaps deciding Dora was no threat, the doe began to drink. Soon five more joined her. Not wanting to disturb them, Dora waited until the deer finished drinking and walked out of sight before she turned back toward the garden. She savored the last minutes of her walk, trying to store the wholeness it brought to her. When she reached the outskirts of the woods, she heard the insistent ‘Dah dah dah dah …..Dah dah dah dah’ that announced a call from her office.  With a sigh, she picked up her cell phone and answered, “Hello, this is Dora.”


P. F. Palm, is a former teacher, librarian, and systems analyst.  Her flash fiction (“The Black Jay”) has been accepted for publication in the Summer 2011 issue of Calliope magazine (


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