Projecting Fear

“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.


  1. Wow, this one is a real mind challenge. I see it as the deer in the story, in the boys mind, is the man who violates the boy. I can understand Santa Claus and the devil, but don't get the meaning of Jesus Christ.

  2. Hi Linda, my hope for any story is that readers interpret meanings in their own ways, but because you've been such a loyal follower of my blog since its inception, I'll share with you my thoughts as I wrote the mention of Jesus Christ. First, for me, the deer was simply a separate being the boy uses to distract his mind. He "projects" onto the deer. When he sees the face of Jesus Christ, my thought was that the boy has accepted his role of sacrificing himself to the man. In writing this story, I tried to imagine what could possibly go through a boy's mind as he gets sexually molested, but I didn't try to include it all and I didn't expect it all to be rational.

  3. That was chilling in a sort of strange way.

    What do we fear the most? That we won't get the things we deserve - (Santa) or that we have done terrible things in our own mind (devil) or that we will not get forgiveness (Christ).

    What do we project into our world that colours it for us eh?

    Now I have lots of thoughts going on in my mind, maybe I'm on a different tract to what you meant, but it still has given me something to think on.

  4. Wow I've just seen your explanation up there - I certainly was on the wrong track, yet this piece is subjective to each of us is it not.

    Very good writing!

  5. Thanks, Karen! Always love to hear from you.

    Helen, thank you for your detailed comments. I don't think at all that you were on the "wrong track" with your thoughts. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and really like your interpretation. Per the first (and most important) line of my previous comment, I'm a firm believer that the meaning of a story is all in the mind of its readers; the rest of my comment was nothing more than a brief explanation of my thinking while writing one part of the story, in response to a loyal blog follower. Thanks again!

  6. The Jesus moment was really weird! I wondered if the man hadn't dropped a drug on the boy there. Yet I was relieved the story didn't end in a stock attack or youth tragedy. I desired to know what came of the events in terms of the boy's internal life. Since you've left it so vague, am I really free to interpret an intellectual happy ending after the final period?

    Minor typographical issue in second paragraph: if "mom" is used like a name, and that's how it reads, ought it not be capitalized?

  7. Thought provoking. For me its the fact that we see the potent images in the boys head but the mother only hears 'fine' that strikes me hardest.

  8. Interesting. I didn't quite understand it but I loved the imagery.

  9. John, thanks for the detailed comment. I think you're free to interpret it any way you please. Not sure whether "mom" should be capitalized or not, but I'm going to assume you're right and make the change, thanks!

    Hi, Peter, and thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I'm glad you were struck by how the boy keeps the day's events to himself, as this was a key aspect of the story for me as I wrote it.

    Cookme25, thank you, it's always nice to hear that the imagery used was well received.