Troy Phillips was born like you, into a land overwhelmed with technology, and he immersed himself in it. He always had at least one if not two headphones in at a time. He could also beat any video game in under a week. This sometimes required that he sacrifice meals, and time with his family, but he was fine with that. His parents, on the other hand, were concerned.
“He’s still growing and maturing,” his mom said, “It’s not healthy for him to be sitting in front of his T.V. all day,” and his father agreed. So, Troy returned home from school one day to find the T.V. in his room had been removed. He was furious.
“How could you do this,” he said stomping around.
“We own five acres of property,” his dad said, “and you’ve hardly stepped foot on any of it. If you want to play your video games again, then you are going to have go outside and get a little exercise first.” Troy didn’t like the sound of this at all, but he decided it was worth going outside just to get away from his parents. So, he stepped into the backyard, and didn’t look back. He walked until he saw a little wooden shack. It was partially eaten away, but red paint still clung to it’s skeleton. He poked his head into one of the windows, and, to his surprise, there was a deer living inside. The deer stared at him without moving, but not out of fear. The deer looked offended.
“Don’t linger in the window,” said the deer in frustration. “Are you here for a tour, or not. I’m very busy.” Troy didn’t move, but the deer must have assumed that meant “yes,” because he stepped out of the house.
“Before we leave, I just need to know that you don’t have any weapons on you. It’s rude to shoot up ones home and kill ones friends.”
“That would be very rude,” said Troy, “I come unarmed.” So, the deer led Troy deeper into the forest.
“Have you ever experienced nature before?” asked the deer.
“Not really,” said Troy, “Do all animals speak like you?”
“When you keep your ears open,” said the deer, “There’s no telling what you might hear.” And just like that, a bird sounded.
“Hey, Buddy,” said the deer looking up in the trees,”That was Phoebe, don’t confuse him with a Wood-Pewee. He hates that.”
“Whatever,” said Troy, “How long is this tour?”
“oh, your one of those tourists. The heckling kind. That’s not going to fly with me.”
“I just don’t see what’s so great about the woods or the real world in general,” said Troy. “In video games you can be anything you want.”
“That’s one of the things that makes nature so special. It’s not about you. It’s bigger than any one animal. It’s not to be understood. It’s to be appreciated. You see that tree over there,” the deer pointed to an enormous oak, “That tree’s been alive nearly three-hundred years. It’s older than your town.”
“Wow, I had no idea.” said Troy.
“Of course you didn’t,” said the deer, “You’re only listening for the first time.”
“Maybe,” said Troy, and then he heard something else. The sound of rustling leaves. Something was running towards them. Instinctively, Troy hid behind the large oak tree. He only peered out when he heard high-pitched giggle. He could see a girl about his own age playing with a jack-Russell terrier. The girl picked up a bundle of leaves and tossed them into the air. The dog ran and jumped like mad trying to catch them.
“Too slow,” she said picking up some more leaves.
“Who is she?” whispered Troy to the deer.
“I’m worried about you,” the deer said, “She’s your next-door neighbor. Doesn’t she look familiar at all?”
“No,” said Troy, but he could never forget her now. Her face and giggle were lodged forever in his brain.
“Go talk to her,” said the deer, nudging Troy out from behind the tree.
“Alright!” Troy yelled at the deer, and, in shock, the girl screamed and pelted troy with leaves. Before Troy knew what happened, her tiny dog had knocked him to the ground, and snarled at him. He shut his eyes, too embarrassed to move. The next thing he heard was the girl’s giggle, and he felt a hand take his and pull him up.
“I’m so sorry, Troy. You just surprised me. Are you alright?”
“Yeah I’m fine. How are you…”
“Nicole. My name is Nicole.” said the girl, “Good job being on top of that one.”
“I’m sorry,” said Troy, “It’s just that I didn’t have my eyes and ears open before now. Trust me, I won’t forget your name again, Nicole.”
“I walk to school five feet behind you every day to school,” said Nicole, “I tried calling out to you the first few times, but you couldn’t hear me. Your headphones are so loud I feel like I’m following a hip hop marching band.”
“I’ll never ignore you again,” Troy said, “a deer friend of mine has reminded me what’s really important in life.”
Nicole took Troy’s arm, and lead him further into the woods. The dog was not happy about this.
“Do you know the fun you denied me,” said the dog to the deer, “How do you intend to make this up to me?” The deer said nothing. It simply walked over to a pile of leaves and kicked several up into the air. The deer and the dog played for hours that day, and Troy and Nicole explored the woods side by side. Neither couple understood what brought them together, but they appreciated every minute of it.
This story was written by Alex Schattner (7/20/12)