John at the Eclectic Contrarian nominated me for this challenge. You can read the original post below.
John gave his nominees a photo to use for the challenge, and asked us to be as creative as possible and then nominate at least three more bloggers to keep the challenge going.
So without further ado, please enjoy The Stag
Samuel sat on the edge of his bed, cleaning his favorite Winchester rifle, which he would use to show his son how to hunt tomorrow. After receiving the news from the doctor a few months ago, he decided to forgo treatment and live out the remainder of his days to the fullest. His son, Jacob, had been begging him to take him hunting for months, and Jacob was absolutely elated.
“Would mom have let you take me hunting?” Jacob asked his father.
Samuel chuckled, “She would have eventually given into me.” He smiled down at his son.
“Do you miss her?”
“Everyday.” Samuel sighed. “She would have adored you, you know?”
“That’s what you keep telling me.”
There was a moment of silence as Samuel packed their lunches and poured coffee into his thermos.
“Do you ever wish it would have been me instead of her?”
Samuel looked at his son with wide eyes. “Jacob, have you spent your entire life wondering that?”
Samuel walked over to Jacob and crouched down a little, so that he was eye level with his son. “I want you to listen to me. I have loved you since the moment I found out I was getting you. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and while I wish your mom could have lived to see you grow into the outstanding young man you are becoming, it is not your fault that she died giving birth to you. I would never wish that it had been you. Do you understand?”
“Good. Now grab your coat, it’s time to go.”
They made the short drive to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Samuel took in his surroundings,moss covered most of the bare oaks who had lost their leaves as they prepared for winter. The brown, dead leaves covered most of the ground, their crunch was heard with every one of his and Jacob’s footsteps. The hoot of a rain owl echoed through the forest, and Samuel pulled out his binoculars trying to spot it. He had to make numerous stops to catch his breath, feeling the affects from the cancer in his lungs. Samuel hadn’t found the words to say to explain to his son that he was dying. He knew he needed to because his time was drawing to a close, but for today he would enjoy this time with his son, teaching him how to become a skilled hunter, and with any luck, maybe he would witness his son shoot his first deer, just like his father had with him.
They trekked up the hills to the tree stand, where they sat in silence while they searched for deer. Samuel taught Jacob how to use the scope on his rifle, to be at the ready when he did finally spot a buck.
Samuel relished being back in nature. It had been a long time since he had been at this tree stand, hunting, feeling the cool wind kiss his skin, breathing in the fresh, crisp, autumn air.
He bonded with his son as they continued to sit and watch, they had spent the entire day spotting all kinds of wildlife, eagles, a fox, squirrels, rabbits, and a raccoon, but no deer.
Jacob was growing impatient, ready to call it a night, when they heard the wrestling of leaves. Samuel snapped his head to the side and that’s when he saw it, the most beautiful, large stag he had ever seen. He somehow felt drawn to the creature, but he couldn’t put his finger on why. He felt himself growing weaker, his breathing more shallow. He felt the need to cough, but he held it, afraid it would scare the buck away.
“Alright son,” he whispered. “Aim your rifle like I taught you, use your scope, aim for his rib cage, and quickly pull the trigger.”
Jacob did as he was told and the deer turned and started to run. Samuel was afraid he had missed the shot, but he saw the deer starting to stumble and eventually fall.
“Come on,” Samuel grabbed Jacob and climbed down from the tree stand.
Jacob ran up to his deer. He jumped for joy, “Dad, Dad, did you see that? I did it!” He exclaimed! He turned around, but his dad wasn’t there. “Dad?” He called out. He looked around and finally spotted his father lying on the ground. He ran over to him. “Dad?” He asked again.
Samuel looked up at his son, blood staining his lips, as he continued to cough up the red liquid. Samuel wheezed. “Congratulations.” He started coughing again, and he noticed the tears in his sons eyes. “I”m so sorry, I never……” He trailed off, mouth agape, staring just beyond Jacob.
Jacob turned around and saw a woman, wearing a white, flowy dress, she had blonde, curly hair, and she was walking towards them. Jacob stood. “Hey, where’s my deer?” He asked her.
She didn’t respond, she just continued to walk towards them. She placed a gentle hand on Jacob’s shoulder as she continued to walk towards Samuel.
Samuel tried to speak, but all he could do was cough. She knelt down beside him and ran her fingers through his hair. “Shhh…. it’s okay my love. I’m here now.”
Tears were falling from his eyes as he stared at his wife. “How?” He managed to ask her.
“Do you remember me telling you about the woman who approached me on our wedding day, and started speaking gibberish to me?”
Samuel nodded his response.
“Well, it wasn’t gibberish, and that woman was your ex girlfriend, who was mad that you chose me instead of her. It just so happens that she was also a witch and she placed a curse on me. I didn’t actually die. My curse was to watch my son grow, but I couldn’t contact him, I couldn’t touch him, hold him, I could only love him from a far through the eyes of a beautiful stag. You broke the curse,” she turned to Jacob, standing and walking over to him. “I understand how this must sound, but I’m your mom.”
Jacob recognized her from her pictures, but he wasn’t sure what to think about all of this. He lied down on the ground, next to his father and sobbed as he realized his father was dying. “I love you,” he whispered.
Samuel kissed the top of his sons head before turning his gaze back to his wife.
She knelt down next to him once again, tears in her eyes, she grabbed his hand. “It’s okay my love. I’ll look after him. You don’t have to fight anymore.”
Samuel closed his eyes and inhaled for the very last time.
Jacob couldn’t control his sobs, he looked up at his mom, and he wanted to hate her, but the truth was he knew this wasn’t her fault, and as she wrapped her arms around him to console him, Jacob thought she felt like home.
Thank you so much for the nomination, John. I really enjoyed this challenge. I also have to give a shout out to my husband, who helped inspire this story by throwing out random ideas as I spoke of what this picture brought to my mind. So, thanks Neil!
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