54 comments

Drama Romance

I see her through the smoke.

She is still. Too still.

My heart is not.

I sense the flames nearby, gulping everything that resides on the forest floor. This fire, like all others I have been unfortunate to witness, is unforgiving. Unflinching. I have observed many of my family perish, too slow to escape the burning fingers, engulfed in a blaze so powerful that ash rains for days and weeks and endless years in the forest and in my nightmares.

I will not let this fire take her.

Suddenly, there's a cracking sound so thunderous that I snort, leaping backward.

I swivel my head from side to side quickly, attempting to locate the source of the noise. I narrow my eyes. Only smoke and blurred trees and the solid, warm ground beneath me exist.

And then, a series of cracks and groans and whining fills the air. My head snaps upward. I whip around.

A tree falls behind me. The fire has finally consumed it. I bound out of the way as the trunk teeters, unstable. Slowly, so slowly, it begins to sink to the ground, the trunk cracking and burning. The raucous crash is frightening and humbling; I skip further away, toward her, as the fire begins to saunter closer to me. To us.

I prance across the forest floor to her, my lungs filled with smoke. I cannot breathe.

But I cannot breathe without her, either.

Over branches and rocks and tree roots. I see other rodents and animals and birds sprinting alongside me, their frightened cries accompanied by more falling trees and the roaring crackling of the flames. 

Finally. She lies in front of me, still and––and––

No. She cannot be lifeless.

I nudge her with my nose hurriedly but softly. When she does not stir, I shove my nose against her flank––hard.

Movement. A twitch in her shoulder.

She must wake up.

I ram my head into her, digging my antlers beneath her body, lifting her head into the air for just a fraction of a second. It falls to the ground with a thump.

And her eyes open in shock.

She leaps upon her hooves so quickly that I step backward in surprise. She wobbles slightly on her rear legs, her front legs struggling to stay rooted to the earth. Quickly, she recovers, and meets my eyes. I see her own widen as she looks to the scene behind me. The flames flicker and dance in her beautiful, terrified pupils.

We do not have time to convey our joy at finding one another after so many weeks apart. We do not have time to celebrate.

We only have time to survive.

I nudge her with my antlers. She blinks in understanding, swiveling her lovely head in the air, her nose twitching. And then, she beings to run––fast.

I follow behind her closely, watching her hooves with concentration. They veer left and right and straight and curved––she endeavors to evade the flames.

I can only hope that she will.

The smoke is thick now. My eyes water. She drifts in and out of vision; I pump my legs faster, keeping so close to her my nose nearly bumps into her rear during several instances. If she notices, she does not convey it; she only runs faster, harder, deftly leaping over any obstacle in her path. 

Other animals join our side. Animals we do not and could not expect––moose and bears and mountain lions. No soul hunts while fighting for survival; we are all kin now, desperately banding together to overcome the roaring flames licking at our heels, to find a life of natural order and love once again.

Some do not last. I wrench my eyes away when I see a wolverine fall, unable to clear a particularly thick tree trunk laying on the ground. She screams in pain at what I presume is a broken limb, preventing her from any chance of safety. I turn my head back only once as we run, just for a moment, to assess any chance of helping her. And as I look back to the pure horror spilled across her kind face, the fire encloses her in its grasp, and she is lost forever.

I tear my face away, back to my love, to the only aspect of this forest that gives me a reason to fight.

And then the heat is behind me. I can feel it.

I snarl ferociously to indicate the proximity of the flames. For a brief moment, my love glances back, and her eyes widen with a fear that shatters my heart. She bursts forward with a new bout of energy––a pace which I match.

A hill. My love careens up the steep side. My breathing becomes shallow and labored as I fight my way up the incline, the fear eating at me once again as the hot tendrils lick my hooves, taunting me. I see her slowing down, fighting to continue moving, struggling to make it up the bluff, beginning to stumble and sway and gasp for air––

There. I see it. At the corner of my eye. Just at the base of the steep cliff face on the right side of the hill.

An opening in the rock. A cave.

A haven.

I nudge her rear forcefully in the direction of the cave. I see her head search wildly for the source of my touch; and then, I see her eyes lock onto the site of the cave. She veers toward it.

The energy is depleted from both of us. I watch as she stumbles now, swerving, unsteady and weak upon her hooves. Every few seconds, I nudge her rear, prompting her to right herself, to push forward, to fight, to––to––

My vision is hazy. Blurred.

The flames are everywhere.

For a moment, I see her there, ahead, just in front of the cave. I see her stumble. Fall.

My vision grows darker. The heat diminishes.

For a moment, there is only blackness.

And then light.

It becomes brighter.

And brighter.

And warmer.

And warmer.

I brace myself, preparing for the fire, for that agonizing blaze.

Brighter and brighter and warmer and warmer.

I open my eyes.

My love gazes down at me. She presses her nose to mine.

I lean into the warmth and light of her body, finally at peace; finally at home.

October 18, 2020 06:54

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

54 comments

Hello Lina!! I just read your story and it is an amazing one!! Great job on writing it because I think you did phenomenal! I am really looking forward to read more of your stories! :)

Reply

Lina Ozz
01:35 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind reply! I will read your new stories as soon as I can :)

Reply

Thank you! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Claire Lewis
03:49 Oct 19, 2020

Hi Lina, I’m in love with this story! I agree with Leilani that the ambiguity of the ending is a nice touch and I think it reads really well. I also love that the beginning is ambiguous, too, and you don’t fully reveal that it’s an animal POV until you’ve drawn us into the characters. The setting is so real and urgent. teeny edit: “she bursts forward with a new bout of energy, a pace which I match” instead of “a pace to which I match.” I can’t wait to read more of your work!

Reply

Lina Ozz
03:55 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind comment and for giving my story a read, as well as the edit! I really appreciate it :) Love your stories, by the way. I have a lot to learn from you, especially when it comes to description!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Leilani Lane
15:56 Oct 18, 2020

I'm so glad you did an animal POV! I am not a huge fan of romance, so writing one from a perspective of a deer is so refreshing. Love it. Even with animals, you still made this tender and touching, yet also horrific (with the fire). I think it's fitting with the wildfires raging across the country. I also enjoy the open-endedness. I think most would read it as the deer losing to the fire, but I'm going to read it as them making it into the cave safely, because I love these characters. ;) Apologies if I was just too into the story, but ...

Reply

Lina Ozz
16:35 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you so much! I also struggle with romance––with humans, lol. And I love your perspective because that's exactly what I wanted readers to leave with––ambiguity! Appreciate your kind and thoughtful words, as always :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Olivia Larsen
16:45 Oct 29, 2020

I love the animal POV! I've never read a story on here with one. I loved this!

Reply

Lina Ozz
06:49 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment and for giving my story a read, Olivia! Much appreciated :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rayhan Hidayat
09:26 Oct 26, 2020

Omg Lina why didn’t you tell me about this?? I love love love anything told from an animal’s POV, especially if it’s done as well as this. The absence of dialogue worked well because it made the characters feel like deer while still maintaining a degree of relatability. Awesome as always!! 😙

Reply

Lina Ozz
18:04 Oct 26, 2020

Ah thank you so much for this comment, you are too kind!! I always appreciate you reading my stories and I'm so glad you enjoyed the animal perspective. I'm truly horrible at writing human romances, so deer were the next best thing I could think to write about. Thanks as always! :D

Reply

Rayhan Hidayat
12:32 Oct 27, 2020

First Leilani and A.G. with their roach romances and now you with your deer... damn, I need to write a non-human romance soon 😅

Reply

Lina Ozz
17:49 Oct 27, 2020

Bahaha I love the cockroach romances xD Yes please!!! Tell me when your submit one and I'm reading it immediately!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
T. S. Burkhardh
17:32 Oct 25, 2020

Really really good. Evocative and emotional. I am enjoying your stories so far.

Reply

Lina Ozz
01:00 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you so much! I appreciate the read and the kind comment :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Water Is Deep :D
10:32 Oct 25, 2020

At the start of the story I thought that it was a human and then when you said "nudged her with my nose" and "digging my antlers beneath her body" I was like "Oh my god. This completely changes the whole thing." This story is blazing with awesomeness.

Reply

Lina Ozz
00:51 Oct 26, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind compliment and for reading my story! I really appreciate it :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
20:07 Oct 24, 2020

I love the concept of writing from an animal's POV! I submitted to this prompt as well (my first time trying my hand at any sort of romance), and found it to be difficult to convey such raw care and compassion for the "partner" character, but I think you did so brilliantly here. Looking forward to reading more of your stories!

Reply

Lina Ozz
23:43 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much for giving my story a read and for your thoughtful comment! I definitely struggle with romances, so I feel you there. I’ll absolutely check out your story (a little slammed these next few days with work but will read yours as soon as I can!) :)

Reply

23:47 Oct 24, 2020

Oh that would be lovely! Thank you! I’m always eager for feedback. Best of luck managing your workload in the coming week!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Spencer Steeves
18:41 Oct 24, 2020

As an aromantic science major, animals and love is always a strange concept for me, but I quite liked this story. The moment I saw the title, I knew I had to read it(if only because I love puns more than life itself) and the story didn't disappoint. When I read books where authors delve into the perspectives of animals, I'm always enraptured, and your work has done the very same thing. Great job. Can't wait to look into some of your other submissions if this is the caliber I can expect!

Reply

Lina Ozz
23:46 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much, Spencer! I really struggle with human romance stories, so I figured I’d have to take an alternate route. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment and will take a look at your stories as soon as I can (a little slammed with work this week) :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
16:52 Oct 24, 2020

Love it!!! It was refreshing to read from a completely different perspective. Animal trying to escape fire is much more heartbreaking and I had never though about it. Great work!!!

Reply

Lina Ozz
23:47 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your lovely comment :) Also, I love your pen name and your profile pic!!

Reply

09:29 Oct 25, 2020

Haha thank you!! Hopefully one day I will be comfortable enough to use my real name.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Molly Leasure
18:42 Oct 22, 2020

This made me real sad. Like, humans running from fire, sure, I guess. BUT DEER. I have deer hanging out in my yard all the time where I live, and I can't imagine any harm coming to them. It'd be horrific. That aside, you really made this vivid. I could see the animals running from the bursting flames, and that death scene for the poor wolverine was almost too real. I saw her moist, fearful eyes. But I think my favorite moment was when he was nudging her with his nose in the beginning. There was just something SO powerful about his movement a...

Reply

Lina Ozz
22:49 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you so, so much! And same. I started writing this story about humans, and was like, "nope, that ain't gonna cut it." So, deer. I cry real tears. And thank you for your comment about the nose-nudging and the wolverine! I was hoping those parts would get to someone (muahaha?). I currently live in a state (CO) that is literally on fire, and I wanted this story to represent the thousands of creatures that are fleeing their homes. And the thousands of creatures that won't make it. Appreciate all your comments and feedback; really mea...

Reply

Molly Leasure
00:13 Oct 23, 2020

Animals just do me in. THEY DID GET TO ME, definitely a muahaha. How very ironic and coincidental that I also happen to live in CO haha. We're literally burning down as we speak! (I was thinking as I read that it was very reminiscent of previous CO fires I've been through, but I didn't know if I was crazy or not) Forest fires are the saddest. It hurts to think how many poor creatures don't make it through. :(

Reply

Lina Ozz
03:06 Oct 23, 2020

What no way?! Also from CO? So cool!! And yup, it is so sad––I just saw the news about people not being able to get their horse trailers ready in time, so owners wrote their phone numbers on the horse's fur and set them free to get away from the fire, hoping that they'll show up in the future and someone will call them to let them know. So sad :( Hope that you are staying safe and well!!

Reply

Molly Leasure
07:20 Oct 23, 2020

Yeah!! Oh man, I hadn't seen that news. That's really sad :(. I could never imagine the fear and sorrow of losing a personal animal in a fire like that. Where I used to live I was right on the mountains. So way back when—during the Hayman fire—I was right on the other side and had to evacuate. But I was SO worried about my dog, like irrationally worried. I was convinced that if we didn't evacuate at the right time we'd forget her or something (I was really young mind you) and that fear just sticks with me now. I'm like deathly afraid of fire...

Reply

Lina Ozz
18:08 Oct 23, 2020

Ahhh I completely relate. My dog is my everything! That would be absolutely terrifying and I would definitely have lost my mind in that situation. Very happy you are doing well and away from the fires.

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Ray Dyer
20:26 Oct 20, 2020

This is a great, creative take on this prompt! I love it! The characterization, the struggle, the resolution - they all work. I love the tension right from the beginning, and the release that comes at the end. Thank you for sharing your story!

Reply

Lina Ozz
01:38 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much for giving my story a read and for your kind comment, Ray! I really appreciate it. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
S. M
21:50 Oct 19, 2020

This was so good!

Reply

Lina Ozz
00:07 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
20:10 Oct 19, 2020

The animal POV was really interesting! I like that you never announced it, and at first I was confused: "Wait why are they prancing in a forest fire?" But then the story revealed itself. Well done on the prompt, It offered a nice new perspective of taking romantic love form a non human standpoint.

Reply

Lina Ozz
00:07 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much Isabel! I really appreciate your comment and thank you for giving my story a read. :)

Reply

00:08 Oct 20, 2020

No problem!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Charles Stucker
10:00 Oct 19, 2020

I might be tempted to title this, "Oh, Deer" or even "Dear Hart" Fairly early, I noticed the little clues you put before nudging with a nose, so I was not surprised by the reveal. You start quickly, with the inciting moment in opening sentences which arrange poetically. Everything in the scene flows naturally, though I might be tempted to have the observation of running beside predators be more along the lines of, "Nobody hunts while running for their lives." The ambiguity of the end is wonderful. Are they safe in the cave or is it the anim...

Reply

Lina Ozz
00:14 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you for the feedback! I think I may leave the title for now, but I'll definitely think on it. Love that quote you used, too. Appreciate the kind and thoughtful comment! :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sjan Evardsson
15:18 Oct 18, 2020

Well written, and bittersweet. Stay safe and keep writing!

Reply

Lina Ozz
03:54 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you for your kind comment! You as well :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
A.G. Scott
07:35 Oct 18, 2020

I really enjoy the idea of the ending, but I'm not a big fan of the interrupted-- thoughts-- Just my two cents.

Reply

Lina Ozz
07:40 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you!! I went back and altered the ending slightly, removing the interrupted thoughts; I'm going to keep messing with it. Thank you for your advice, as always!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Len Mooring
07:17 Oct 18, 2020

Wonderfully told. From a distance I visualise the plight of animals unable to flee fast enough. I'm not sure if it was a photograph or a description of an animal who would normally be food for a leopard, I think it was, riding on its back to get over a river whilst escaping a fire. Unfortunately, the fire hazards will increase over the coming years, I think.

Reply

Lina Ozz
03:53 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you so much, Len! And that's an incredible visual. Gives me shivers, actually. And yes––I'm from Colorado, and I have friends who are currently evacuating their homes. Smoke clouded the entire sky this weekend. Devastating.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Lina Ozz
07:10 Oct 18, 2020

I'm not sure about the ending; wanted to leave it ambiguous. Let me know what you think, and/or if I should adjust the conclusion.

Reply

Tom .
10:45 Oct 18, 2020

It is a good ending. Simple. It gives them a resolution. They lose the race but win through finding each other.

Reply

Lina Ozz
03:52 Oct 19, 2020

Thank you, Tom! That's a beautiful way to put it. I appreciate the comment :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Willow Byrd
14:17 Nov 17, 2020

Wow, this was absolutely incredible in every way. Such a perfect and heatwarming take on the prompt! Incredible job!!

Reply

Lina Ozz
18:18 Nov 19, 2020

Thank you so much, Helen! :)

Reply

Willow Byrd
18:49 Nov 19, 2020

You're very welcome. :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply