: Hunting Season :

an excerpt by Matthew Modica


The doe was in the brush beyond the persimmon trees. It lay on its side, the wound a bloody archipelago connecting its back to its white underbelly. Its mouth was open. A fly tiptoed along the jaw line. She crouched beside the doe, staring into its eye, round and obsidian and unseeing. The eye was lusterless; there was no reflection.


Beyond the persimmon orchard the north pasture was still emerging from a dawn fog, silver-blue and tinged yellow by the early sun. She hadn't heard the gunshot. Most likely the doe had been wounded elsewhere and had come to this place for its own reasons-the orchard was a favorite gathering spot for deer, and when Lyman was alive he was constantly after them, constructing all manner of fences and barriers to keep them out. After he passed she hired some boys from town to help her tear down the fences; alone on the farm, she no longer had the energy or motivation to pick and mill the persimmons, and she looked forward to the early evening hours when the deer congregated in the dusky orchard.


Another fly landed on the deer's lip, then a third, and the trio took turns peeking into the open mouth. She looked to the sky. The day would be hot, and soon the stench would draw the turkey vultures. She rose, her knees and back complaining, and taking one last look at the dead doe, walked back to the farmhouse.