posted by dave on Saturday, October 8, 2005 at 2:49 PM in category general

(This is taken from my memory of that day. The dialogue is not exact, but I think it's pretty close. You'll get the gist anyway. This is also very long. Just remember that I hate writing dialogue, and maybe that'll make you feel better for having to read this monstrosity. This is killing me at least as much as it's killing you.)

First, I want to say how we met. I want to say it first because it has a lot to do with how we ended.

Fate is a silly concept to me. The idea that everything is preordained, that our lives are mapped out by some higher power, that free will is only an illusion - this just strikes me as ludicrous.

So I don't think it was fate that caused us to meet. I think it was mere random chance. That deer, no hand reached down from the heavens and pushed it onto the highway. It was probably running from a hunter or something.

The deer was struck by the car in front of me. Struck hard. Hard enough to send it flying. Hard enough to make me wish I hadn't found its body when I went to check on it.

The car in front of me screeched to a stop on the side of the road, and I pulled over as well. I ran up to see if the driver was okay.

I don't believe in fate. Fate is a silly concept.

A girl, her knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. A girl, her eyes clenched shut, tears running down her cheeks, her mouth moving constantly. A silent prayer perhaps? Nope. As I got close I could see that she was mouthing the same word over and over.

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck...
I tapped on her window. "Are you okay, miss?" I asked. I'm always formal with strangers. I don't know why.

She turned to me, and gave me a funny look. "Was that a deer? Please tell me that was a deer!" she cried as she rolled down her window.

"It was a deer," I answered.

"Did I kill it?" she asked.

"I don't know. Probably. Are you okay though?"

"Will you please check on it? Maybe it's just hurt?"

"If I can find it," I answered.

I'd thought the girl was going to stay in her car, but after I'd walked 50 yards or so back the way we'd came, back towards where the deer was, I heard her walking behind me. I turned and waited for her to catch up.

"What did you think it was?" I asked her when we started walking again.

"What do you mean?"

"You said, 'Please tell me that was a deer.'"

"I did? I mean, I guess I hoped it was a deer and not something worse," she said.

"You mean like a person?" I had to ask.

She nodded. "Or a dog. I thought maybe I'd killed somebody's dog."

"Oh. I thought when you said 'please tell me that was a deer' that maybe you just really hate deer."

She allowed herself to smile. "After this, I might just start hating them!" Her smile contrasted sharply with her tears.

"Really though, are you okay? You're not hurt?" I asked. She seemed fine, physically anyway. More than fine. Hot in fact, I was a little ashamed to catch myself noticing.

I don't believe in fate. Fate is a silly concept.

When we got to the place where she'd stuck the deer, she stopped walking, and I kept going. The deer had been knocked down the hill at the side of the highway. Its body lay about 30 feet down. I could already tell that it was dead. What was left of it was dead.

"I see it," I told the girl. "I'm going to go check it out. Wait here."

"Okay." She didn't seem capable of going any further anyway.

The car had struck the deer about halfway back its body. As a result, everything from its ribs back was completely smashed. Its rear half looked like an empty sock. As a result, it was dead. Its eyes were open. I stood for a second, just to make sure it wasn't breathing, then started back up the hill.

"Is it dead?" she asked when she saw my head reappear.

"Yeah. I don't think it suffered," I answered.

We started walking back. When we got back to my truck a state trooper pulled in behind me. I guess somebody passing by had thought to call them.

"Everything allright here?" the cop asked, walking up to us, with his hand on his gun for some reason.

"I killed a deer!" the girl was crying again.

"But you're okay? Do you want me to call an ambulance for you? How about a tow truck?"

The girl hadn't even thought about her car. "I'm fine. I don't know how bad my car's hurt. I didn't look at it."

"Let's go take a look, okay?" the cop asked.

They walked up to her car. I leaned against the front of my truck. The leftover heat coming from the radiator felt good.

They got to the front of the car, and the girl screamed. She ran back towards me. I saw the cop pull out something reddish-brown and fling it to the side of the road. He then started to inspect the car.

The girl ran to me, leaned partly against my hood, and partly against me. She was crying quietly. I put my arm around her loosely, and she turned into me and laid her head against my chest. Like it was the most natural thing in the world for her to do.

"What happened?" I asked.

"The deer's tail was stuck in my grill. It was so gross!" She was shaking a little.

The cop came back to us. "Your car seems okay to drive, but you'll have to get that headlight replaced before you drive it at night," he said. He noticed me for the first time. "And you are?" he asked.

"I saw it happen. I stopped to help."

"Okay." He sounded dubious. "Ma'am, I'll need to take down some information. Would you please come sit in my car?"

The girl pulled away from me, an oddly disconcerting feeling. She asked me, "Will you please get my phone and call my brother? I don't want to drive. His number's in the memory. His name's Jay."

"Okay," I answered.

"And then you'll wait for him with me." It was a statement, not a question.

"Of course I will."

So, I went up to her car and found her phone. I used it to call her brother.

"Hello, Jay? Your sister asked me to call you. She hit a deer, and she's pretty upset and she doesn't want to drive. She wants you to come and get her."

"I'm just a guy that stopped to help. My name's Dave."

"No, I don't think she's hurt, she's just upset. She's talking to a cop now. The cop says that the car is okay to drive."

"We're just before mile marker 88 on 64 Eastbound."

"An hour? Okay, I'll tell her. Bye."

I don't believe in fate. Fate is a silly concept.

So I went back to my truck and I waited. After a bit, the girl and the cop came back.

"You saw the deer?" the cop asked me.


"It's dead?"


"Where is it?"

"Just on this side of the bridge back there. It's down the hill," I said, pointing.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, ma'am?" he asked the girl.

She had resumed her place at my side, and was once again crying softly. She shook her head against my chest.

"I called her brother, and he's on his way. I'll wait with her until he gets here," I translated the head shake.

"Okay." He still seemed dubious. "I'll just go check on that deer and then I'll be on my way."

"Okay, thank you," I said as he started back toward his car.

The girl shook herself gently, and pulled away from me. She gave me that same funny look she'd given me when I first saw her.

"I need a cigarette," she said. "Will you go get them? They're..."

"In your car," I finished for her. "I already got them." I took the pack and the lighter from my pocket and handed them to her.

"Now you're really my hero!" She allowed herself to smile for the second time. I liked her smile.

She leaned back against my truck, not touching me this time. "Thank you for doing this. Stopping and helping. Waiting with me."

"It's not a problem," I said. And it really wasn't. It was taking my mind off my own problems for a while, if nothing else.

"I'm cold," she declared.

"Do you want your jacket from the car? I'll go get it." It was a little chilly, now that she wasn't leaning into me.

"No, that's okay. Let's just sit in your truck and run the heater."

I don't believe in fate. Fate is a silly concept.

So we climbed into my truck. I was very thankful that I'd just given it its annual cleaning, the empty Coke bottles and Twix wrappers weren't too bad. I started up the truck and we just sat for a while, not saying anything.

She put her cigarette out, and started crying again. She was looking away from me, out the window, like she was trying to hide her tears from me.

"You know, I've already seen you cry, and my shirt is already soaked. We've got an hour before Jay gets here. If you want to cry, go ahead and cry. And if you want to soak my shirt some more, go ahead and do that too."

She smiled for the third time, and she scooted over next to me. I put my arm around her, and she just started bawling.

We stayed like that for a long time.

Her hair smelled like heaven.

I tried very hard to keep from looking down her shirt.

Her bra was black.

Every now and then, she'd look up. Every time she did it, I wondered if I should kiss her. But those moments never lasted. She'd look up at me, and then she'd put her head back down and cry some more.

One time she did look up and ask, "So, you got a name, hero?"

"My name is Dave."

She put her head back down on my chest, then quickly looked back up.

She said, "I can't believe you called me 'Miss', and then she cried some more.

After about an hour had passed, an hour in which I felt like both the most useful and the most useless person on Earth, a car pulled in behind me.

Her brother, I presumed. And some other guy that I, for a horrifying instant, thought might be her boyfriend.

She pulled herself away from me and wiped her face with my shirt. She gave me a little smile...

That was the fourth time.

...and got out of the truck.

The three of them walked up to her car and stood around looking at it, digging around in it. The guys, every now and then, would cast a glance in my direction. I wondered what she was telling them. They probably figured I was some ax-murderer or something.

I just sat and waited. Two's company, but four is definitely a crowd.

The one dude that wasn't her brother got in her car and drove off. The girl and her brother walked back in my direction. They stopped at my truck.

I got out.

"Hi, I'm Jay," the guy said as he extended his hand. "Thanks for your help."

I shook the guy's hand. "Dave. It was really no problem," I said.

He looked at the girl. "Well, we should be going," he told her.

Then he just stood there, watching us.

The girl pulled her hand out of her jacket pocket and extended it to me.

Okay, fine, I thought. After all that now we're going to get all formal and shit?

I shook her hand. There was a piece of paper folded into it.

"Thank you so much," she said. "It was really great, what you did."

"Not a problem," I said. I say that a lot, it seems.

I watched them get into his car and drive away. She held her hand up to me as they passed, and I waved back.

I got back into my truck, and I opened the piece of paper.

I used to have that note somewhere. If I could find it I would just scan it in. But I can't find it, so I'll just quote it:

My name is [private]. What you have done for me today will probably make me cry every time I think about it, and I plan to think about it often. I know I can never thank you enough, but I would like to try. My number is [private].

PS: My last boyfriend's name was Dave and I don't want to call you that, so I will call you Hero, because that's what you are.

PPS: I still can't believe you called me Miss! I liked it though.

And so that's what I called her. In my 'blog she was always MixedSignalGirl, but to me, to us, she was Miss.

And me, well I was always Hero. Even when I made her cry. Even when we'd broken up. Even when we said goodbye.

comments (2)

I can read this a dozen times a day and it makes me cry every single time. You are my hero, Dave.

You made it easy. You always made it easy. I was the one that made it so hard that it failed. Can a person be a hero and a failure at the same time? It is really the thought that counts?

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