The crash startled Edith from a sound sleep. She sat up in bed and listened as the sound of breaking and falling glass seemed to go on and on. It had to be the picture window in the living room; nothing else in the house was large enough to produce that much noise. Glancing at the clock that flashed 3:11, she eased out of bed and shuffled down the hall. Though she lived alone, she wasn’t afraid. No thief would brave the temperature and travel so far out of town in the middle of winter. It had to be something else.
In the strong moonlight, Edith saw the stag as she stepped in the room. It lay sprawled and gasping on the hardwood, a small dark puddle spreading under its head. By it’s labored breathing, Edith guessed it wouldn’t last long. She picked her way through the shards of glass and knelt beside its head. Reaching out her bony fingers, she stroked the deer’s fur as it gave one last shudder and lay still. Sorrow filled her and she spoke aloud, “I wonder what on earth made you leap through that window?”
As the cold crept through her nightgown, she shivered and wondered what to do. She hated to wake anyone at this hour but she couldn’t leave the gaping hole till morning. At eighty-one, she wasn’t up to dragging a dead animal out of the house or boarding up the window and there were no neighbors nearby.
Still weighing her options, she became aware of a strange mist beginning to rise from the stag’s corpse. At first, she thought the heat of the animal was rising visibly due to the cold air, but then the mist began to glow and twist.
Mesmerized, she watched as the mist formed into the shape of the deer, which lingered a moment then turned and leaped smoothly out the broken window. It bounded towards the edge of the frozen lake and stopped, looking back towards the house.
As Edith watched, a strange feeling grew in her mind that the stag was waiting for her to follow. An icy breeze filled the room and a bright flutter near the floor caught her eye. Looking down, she saw her gown glowing just like the stag. She raised her hand to her face; it had a transparent glow too. Realization flooded through her and with a smile, she went to join the stag.
Natalie sat sobbing on the sofa across from the picture window as the EMT wheeled the gurney away. The coroner patted her awkwardly on the shoulder, glancing at the sheriff for help.
“When Grandma didn’t answer the phone, I knew something was wrong. We talk every day…” Natalie trailed off.
“If it makes you feel any better, she died in her sleep. It’s always the heart.” stated the coroner.
“We should all be so lucky to die in peace,” added the sheriff.