from Wild Thoughts: A Floral Guide to Feeling by Garrett Huon

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There are deer in the backyard, stepping out just beyond the brush. They sniff around the cherry tree growing in the back corner. It’s their fault we never see any of the fruit, but no one really cares. We didn’t plant it there. It’s just a leftover from the previous owners. We didn’t mind their visits either.

There are two doe and a fawn, but no one has given them a second glance. My family sees deer prancing around the neighborhood regularly. I stare as the animals idle in our yard, the way they wander about without care. They won’t leave unless something spooks them. I don’t try to spook them.

My three-year-old cousin waddles up to my side holding an apple slice in his balled hand. After I decline a bite, he too becomes enamored with the deer in the yard. His snack is lifted halfway to his open mouth but has yet to complete his journey. Slowly his other hand presses against the window.

“Is that a baby deer?” he asks, but his voice is soft and he can’t pronounce the words quite right.

It takes me a second to understand what he said. I poke him in the cheek, and he scrunches up his nose and giggles at me like it’s the funniest thing in the world.

“Yeah, it’s a baby deer.”

He leaves me for more snacks, and I turn back to the deer. The two doe are still at the edges of the yard, but the fawn is looking straight at me. At least, it seems to be. Maybe it noticed movement or maybe it’s seeing something far beyond me. I hold its gaze and wonder if it is as fascinated with me as I am with it.

It is the fawn that breaks eye contact. When it does, my cousin is back with more apple slices to watch the deer in the backyard. I feel close to him despite being seventeen years older. He sits on my lap and we continue to watch by the window.