Stella in Autumn

Deep in the mountains, black under the veil of the clouds, where a thousand flowers adorn the trees and a thousand beetles scurry under the leaves, lived a small deer-child, a faun. That day it was morning and she was stepping slowly, cautiously, over the leaves, and her hooves were black and glossy in the drizzling rain. Up in the trees a hawk looked down, gave a screech, and flew off. What kind of life is this? What kind of life is that? A deer in the forest under the scowling sky has no answers to questions like these, and indeed what good would the answers be? 

Imagine some wise man stepping lightly through the trees, his hand on his beard, a concerned look on his face. He finds our deer and lifting her ear whispers this secret knowledge to her. Will she change? Will she better? Unlikely. It’s as they say: wisdom wastes the wise as much as it is wasted on the vulgar. 

The doorbell rang and the deer went to answer it. Even in this her every move is slow, cautious, steady. Her black eyes were watchful, her ears alert. At the door (there is a door in every forest, though often it is hidden), she waited a moment. She sniffed at the door, as if smell could smell what lay beyond. 

And then she opened it up. And behind this door set in a frame in the middle of a clearing in Autumn, there stood Autumn himself. At this, our deer smiled. She liked Autumn. He was playful with his breezes, not harsh like Winter. And not all sighs and soft moanings like Summer or gaudy leaping and laughing like Spring. Autumn was just right.

So Autumn bent his enormous frame and stepped through the doorframe, smiling at Stella (for that was the deer’s name). As he stepped through he seemed to grow taller and taller until his head was level with the trees. Stella craned her neck up to look at him, delighted. Still smiling, Autumn reached one massive leaf-covered hand down and gently picked her up and raised her to his face. He had kept growing and now the two were well above the trees, him standing tall and her small and fragile in his hand, gazing at his mottled brown face, his golden eyes.

For a while they stood there transfixed in one another. She saw herself reflected in his golden orbs, and he saw himself in her black eyes. At last he opened his mouth and in one bite tore her in half. Then he popped the other half still bleeding and kicking into his mouth, crunched her bones, and swallowed.

Autumn was tall now, taller than the oaks, taller than the cedars, tall almost as the mountains. He put his hand over his eyes and looked at the rising sun. 

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