‘I can’t keep going’
‘You can. A few steps more. Count to thirty three and we will stop.’
Mia stood still and waited for the others. Huge flakes like feathers fell slowly to the ground. The air was silent and still, a night sky shimmered with stars. The hare in the large round moon looked down on the group with tears in his eyes.
Mia was tearful too. There seemed to be nowhere to stop and the tiny feet and bodies behind her were exhausted. She wasn’t tired or cold. Her blanket, like large wings, kept her shielded from the damp. Her feet were protected against the wet snow. They were sturdy and used to travel.
But she worried about the little ones.
‘Thirty three steps and we can rest beneath that large fir tree ahead,’ she said reassuringly to her little birds.
The spruce was thick and heavy. No snow lay around its base. It would be a good place to sleep thought Mia. The young ones picked up their pace, eager to reach the comfort of the giant fir.
‘They’re not looking for us,’ said a little voice. ‘They have forgotten us. We’ve been walking for hours and hours.’
‘Hush now,’ said Mia. ‘We have enough food for a week. They will find us.’
She didn’t want to say how afraid she was of spending another night without elders to protect them against salivating, hungry wolves looking for easy prey.
‘Come close, under my blanket and we will eat and sleep. It’s nice and warm in here,’ said Mia.
She beckoned the five babies towards her and enveloped them with her arms as they ate bread and drank water.
She started to sing and rock whilst they settled down around her. She stared up at the stars, tears rolling down her cheeks. As long as it kept snowing, it would stay warm. Warm enough to stop her babies from freezing. She hummed gently as the five around here started to fall asleep and she too could no longer keep awake.
Mia felt something warm against her face as she dozed. A tongue licked her cheek. She slowly opened her eyes, afraid of what she might see. She smiled. Beautiful brown eyes blinked at her. She put out her hand and stroked the young face nuzzling her.
‘Where’s your mama, baby deer? Are you lost too?’ she asked.
‘No, I’m not. I’ve come to tell you that we are going to take you with us, to somewhere safe,’ said the young fawn.
Mia rubbed her eyes believing she was still asleep, dreaming. But as she opened them wide she could see a whole family of deer stood in front of her.
‘Come on Mia,’ said the mama deer. ‘Come with us. Bring your babies with you.’
Messengers, thought Mia, are always deer. She knew she had to go with them. She slowly awakened her five children and placed each one on the backs of the four-legged animals, knowing she could trust them.
The snow was still falling. Deep and soft, a large feathered quilt, over the ground. Mia gathered her blanket, like large wings, around her and walked on with the deer, out of the forest, towards the moonlight. The hare smiled down on them all.