“Follow me,” the man says.
The young boy doubts the man’s intentions, wishes he knew what life was like for his friends whose fathers still live with their mothers.
He could refuse, tell the man he has to get home, but Mom doesn’t kick a soccer ball back and forth or watch baseball games on television. It’s not her fault, the young boy knows.
The man walks into the forest and the young boy follows.
Fallen leaves crack beneath the young boy’s feet. Barren tree limbs sway with the breeze. The sun fades from view and everything changes, birds cease to chirp and squirrels freeze in place, dropping their acorns in unison.
The boy stares at a deer trotting toward them, its face transforming. The deer’s body remains but its face becomes that of Santa Claus, then the Devil. The boy is more scared than ever before in his life, but he doesn’t scream or say a word. Now the face of Jesus Christ replaces the deer’s head before it runs away, out of sight.
The man leads the young boy out of the woods, holding his hand. The boy goes home and when his mother asks him about his day, he says it was “fine.” He says nothing of his trip into the woods, remembering only the deer, but keeping it to himself.