The Deer on Stone Road

I take Stone Road part of the way to work. Part of the reason is that I avoid traffic, and part of the reason is that for the first twenty years of my married life, I lived way out in the country. Country relaxes me. Stone Road winds along the river and is bordered by trees on both sides. I like it.

This morning as I turned onto Stone Road, I noticed a pickup stopped by the edge of a bridge. It was foggy, so I slowed down. As I got closer, the pickup drove away, but not before I saw a deer dance awkwardly out from the other side of the bridge and land in a sitting position in my lane. After that, she did not move. Seems obvious that the truck had hit her.

I had to go to work, so I drove around the deer as did the car behind me. School was a few minutes away. I did not know who to call, and if she was alive, I certainly did not carry a gun with which to end her misery. People at school assured me that school buses take that road and they do know who to call. Not to worry.

But I did worry. See, a couple of years ago when my husband and I were visiting with our son and his family in DC, we had RJ and were going to spend a day sight-seeing. We got off the freeway to find a McDonald’s so RJ could have breakfast, and we had a hard time finding which way to go when we got back on.

I saw something on the other side of a concrete wall at the same time my husband did, and he pulled over. So did the car behind us. He got out of the van and told me to stay put. Not to look. The woman who stopped in front of us did look. Then she got sick.

A bicyclist had been run down just before we passed by. Whoever hit him had driven on. I had seen movement and thought there was hope, but my husband said nothing that flat could live. Someone had a cell phone and dialed 911. We had RJ, so we drove away. What kind of person, I wondered, could hit someone and just drive on?

That evening, I scoured the news for word on what had happened. Evidently, the bicyclist had been hit by a dump truck, and the driver, in panic, had driven on to Maryland. In true CSI style, he had been traced through various traffic cameras. The police had matched the tread of his tires and hunted down the truck, which still carried some of the bicyclist’s blood.

That driver drove on, just as I drove by the deer this morning. I know it was “just a deer.” And I know that there was nothing I could have done to help. I had not hit her.

But driving on really felt wrong.

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