Driving home from class tonight, just about a minute off City Line Ave., I almost hit a deer in the road. I take a back way that abutts Fairmount Park and links up to West River Drive, but I’ve never seen any wild life up that way until tonight. I was going along, talking to my mom about how class had been that night, when I saw something in the road in the lights of an oncoming car. I tapped my brakes and stopped talking, my brain spinning in circles trying to interpret what I had seen. I looked like four brown poles, running parallel to each other in the road.
One and a half seconds later, the lights flashed again, and I realized that what I was seeing was a young deer. I went for the brake pedal but came to a gentle stop as opposed to the jerky one I had been expecting. The oncoming car had stopped too, and the deer stood in my lane, looking at both of us with expectation and curiosity. The other car continued on slowly, and the deer walked back to the shoulder of the road, to let me pass. I stayed stopped, seeing if I could be the car that would ensure that the deer would make it safely to the other side of the road. He looked at me, appearing to take my measure, and headed back into the woods with a clumsy first step.
The entire experience lasted less than two minutes, but I felt altered having lived it. I was once in a car that hit a deer. I lay stretched out in the back seat while two friends chatted quietly in the front. I didn’t see it coming but was jarred and shaken by the impact. As I shifted the car into first gear and rolled away, I felt grateful that I hadn’t had to have a collision experience and that my car had been so willing to come to an easy stop.