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A Deer Night

Author: Judit Gonzalez
Year: Adventure

We were ready for adventure. My parents and I had planned our first trip to the Isle of Skye and we were excited. Perhaps it was the excitement that prevented us from seeing the signs that kept coming on the first day's journey. It was only later, during hours of reflection after the accident, that we came to glimpse the mechanics of the universe. But it is up to you, my dear reader, to form your own opinion about the facts.

Early in the morning we took the bus to Edinburgh Airport, although it took longer than expected due to the unusually heavy traffic. Arriving at the counter of the car rental office, we were surprised by the queue. At least two dozen people were waiting and only two workers were attending to customers. When our turn finally came, an hour had passed and the car we had requested was not available, so we were offered another one with the same features, but of a higher range. We accepted and headed off to the car park. When we found the car, a white giant that stood out from the rest because of its size and width, we looked at each other with apprehension.

Our first stop was the Kelpies, where we took photos and paused for a quick coffee. We then reached Loch Lomond, where we rested and had a picnic. The night before we had prepared fruit and sandwiches.

As we were savouring the food, we noticed a dog playing on the shore of the loch. His wet fur and sandy snout were certainly a most amusing sight. A few minutes later the owner called him and they both walked away. Suddenly, two ducks appeared on the scene and came out of the water in search of food. My father crept over and offered them breadcrumbs.

Later, after we had filled our stomachs and stretched our legs, my father confessed something to me, ‘I have a strange feeling, but I do not know why.’

Back in the car we headed north to Glencoe. There we marvelled at the sight of the three sisters whose green grass had dried due to the spring. However, the value of their beauty was in no way diminished. Fog shrouded the peaks and the cold was bone-chilling. We hiked for an hour and returned to the car, heading towards Fort Williams. There we stopped for dinner and I was aware for the first time of my father's concern as he watched the sky with a frown on his face.

‘It’s getting late and there are no lights on the road, we must get there as soon as possible.’

This time there was no music inside the car and my mother, whose lively nature always lent itself to conversation, remained silent for the last hour and twenty minutes. Our final stop for the night was Inverinate, where we had booked a room in a guesthouse.

Soon, an overwhelming sensation fell over us as we witnessed the descent of the sun behind the mighty highland mountains. The sight of darkness spreading across the landscape created a bleak and lonely atmosphere. Within minutes we were engulfed by the blanket of night. The only light that remained was the car headlights on the unfamiliar road. Then, two white dots emerged in the distance and we breathed a sigh of relief at meeting the first car after so many miles. That feeling was stripped from us and replaced by horror when suddenly a tall, hairy body crossed the road and stopped in front of our car. I will never forget the big, beautiful hazel eyes of the deer. A gaze full of serenity and depth. My mouth opened to scream and the impact threw me forward. The deer flew off to the side of the road where there was a steep valley slope and another deer, probably waiting for its mate, watched us in the darkness.

I will not go into details, but I can assure you that the accident could have turned out worse, and yet we walked away without a scratch. The robust body of the car and my father's reflexes saved us that night. The lack of connectivity in our devices and the absence of the other car, which continued its journey despite having witnessed the accident, made us drive the last few kilometres blind. By the time we reached the house where we were to stay, I had no tears left to shed. The owners were more than attentive and offered us the warmth and comfort of their home to get us through the shock. Slowly, we came out of our stupor and Mike took us out into the garden to see the starry night. Seeing the shooting stars brought a smile to our faces, although the shadow of the accident was still hanging over us.

The next morning we saw the wreckage in the bright sunlight and had to change our itinerary and drive to Inverness to change cars at the airport as the car was drivable, but without the digital support on board. In convoy mode, we followed the owners of the house who surprisingly had to go to a doctor's appointment in Inverness. There we said goodbye to our new and forever friends of adventure.

I will end this story by explaining the most amazing apparition on our last day of the trip. Leaving Skye, and passing the breathtaking highlands under the guidance of the blazing sun, we spotted a movement on the side of the road. My father slowed down and the three of us held our breath. A majestic deer approached with a firm, graceful stride a few metres from the road and stopped to watch us. I received their forgiveness with teary eyes and a lump in my throat. Sometimes things happen for a reason.