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it seems like a mistake at first.
I guess this is a mistake she says. it probably doesn’t know where it is.
then the deer begins dragging in grasses and leaves from the woods.
it spreads them out into a nest under the kitchen table.
all day she and her grandfather watch the deer.
it gets tiring over the next few weeks, living with this creature.
the deer eats their food, nibbles on her sweaters.
it doesn’t help with the dishes or sweep the floor
or pay its share of the rent.

the deer has no understanding of the salient history of her town,
a place nicknamed The Village of Fatherless Children.
when she was young, the dads of
half the kids in town disappeared.
the other half did not have dads to begin with
either they had two moms or single moms.
she often wonders why it is called The Village of Fatherless Children
and not The Village of Many Mothers
or even The Village of Mostly Mothers
which would be a much more positive and progressive way of viewing things.

one day she finds that a framed photo of her father is missing.
the deer, when interrogated, discloses nothing.

Nikki Caffier Smith is a writer based in Brooklyn. Her writing has appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, Typishly, and Awakened Voices Magazine, and is forthcoming in 42 Stories Anthology and on the podcast Kaleidocast. She works as a fiction editor for Cleaver Magazine. She lives with her partner and their two ill-behaved cats.
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23 Jan 2023

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