We found its decimated carcass in the morning, spotted it from the shore – the dark heap of fur, blood, and bones barely visible from where we stood. The ice was thick and covered in a dusting of powder snow. For some reason, we walked out to get a closer look.
I cried deep, heaving, uncontrollable tears as I stood over the mangled body. You held me, patting my back, but I couldn’t stop imagining how afraid she must have been. I pictured the moments before her death, when she must have sensed the encroaching predators, the scramble, the panic.
Over the next week the temperature climbed and the ice thawed until one day it cracked under the weight of the decaying carcass and the bones plus whatever blood and fur that hadn’t been picked away by corvids sank to the bottom of the lake.
We took the kayaks out in the spring and drifted over her body, the skeleton bright white against the sludge and reeds like a collection of broken shells. Bright spots of algae bloomed on the surface of the water and drifted over the remains like storm clouds.
Later that day, we sat in the lawn drinking warm beer and flicking our cigarette butts into the fire pit as the setting sun lit the sky ablaze. The crabgrass scratched at our thighs and we swatted the mosquitos that landed on our arms and legs. Blood leaked and left sticky puddles that mingled with our sweat.
When I noticed the fawn, I thought she was a cat at first because she was so small. She was maybe only a few weeks old and was crouched and hiding, camouflaged in the dusk except for the white speckles in her fur and totally alone.
I finished off the rest of my beer wondering if she would make it out there on her own but knowing the odds were against her. When dark fell and it got too cold we went inside. In the morning she was gone.