By the time I walked into the backyard Bumble had already raced down the ravine and up the other side and was streaking after a deer on the ridge, right to left—I could see him—then across the road and into the further woods, and so I hurried after him, running along a grassy ledge through the trees and around the edge of a small pond I hadn’t known was there, until finally I saw them, not six inches apart, the deer and the dog, lunging at each other and taking turns trying to bump each other with their heads, Bumble wild and barking, the doe leaning against a tree, sick, it seemed to me, or starving, too exhausted to run.
Piper says I shouldn’t clench my fists when I tell this story, I shouldn’t be afraid, but when I grabbed for Bumble and the doe skittered away, brushing against my arm as it jumped, and Bumble bounded after her, whirling, knocking me backwards onto the soft, forgiving ground, and the doe dove into the pond and started swimming, breasting the thick green layer of algae, and Bumble leapt in after her, paddling furiously and bumping against her with his shoulder,and the doe bumping against his with hers, the two of them veering in circles in the water, left, then right, until Bumble started to struggle, until he seemed to panic, looking up at me with wide, frightened eyes, drenched and bedraggled, trying, frantically, to make for shore, and reaching it finally, and trying to scrabble up the muddy bank, and falling back, again and again, and me pulling and pulling him by his collar, his fur, trying to heave him up and out, trying not to tumble in myself, trying not to get pulled under—I wasn’t roaring anymore. I was trembling. I was holding him in my arms. Gasping. Soaked with mud. The both of us.
Where the doe went I don’t know, whether she managed to clamber out of the pond and slip away into the trees again, or even if she drowned, in her weakness and her panic. I’ve worried about her since. But I wasn’t panicked anymore and I wasn’t afraid. I was amazed.
At how close we’d all been.