A ribbon of gray pavement ran through the deep woods, holding back the thicket of bare tree branches that grabbed at it and tried to swallow it up. It was closed off to cars, allowing mothers pushing strollers, dog-walkers, and runners like me to have the path to ourselves. Only today, I was its only visitor, or so I thought.
Down the straight path, in the early morning darkness, I noticed silhouettes ahead of me. It looked like...dogs. A pack of dogs in the woods? I had just seen the "The Grey" the previous night, a movie about man-eating wolves in Alaska, and suddenly slowed my pace. I squinted. Not wild dogs, greyhounds! I could tell now that their lines were slender and sleek, and for a moment, I rationalized that there was a dog park just a mile up the road. A greyhound lover must be out walking with their dogs and let them off the leash. I jogged forward and all of the sudden, through the shadows cast by the rising sun behind the trees, I saw a spec of white on one of the dogs. One by one, these white specs popped up as they trotted across the road. It was the white tails of deer!
With the mystery solved, I continued onward until I came to the spot in the road where they had crossed. I looked to my right, preparing to stretch my eyes once more and capture a glimpse of them bounding away. But there they were, standing still. Feet away from me. There were 5 that had inched down the side of the hill, and paused to turn their heads back. And one that was right next to the road. He had turned around to face me. They waited for me to catch up to them.
I stopped running and turned towards the deer. "Hello." I said.
And we stood staring in each other's eyes for nearly a minute.
Finally, his rest was over. He must have told his friends, "Come on, let's keep going." And off they went into the woods.
I said, to no one in particular, "I better keep going." And off I went down the path.