02/06/2016 by paulinebsc
In a Rut
I looked at the small blood stain on my sheet. Fate was laughing at me but I didn’t like the joke.
I pulled out my phone, and pressed ‘Matt’ without looking at the clock.
‘Uh? What?’ I had obviously woken him. ‘Fay? Whassup?’
‘I’m going to be in the rut this year.’
‘That’s great, Fay! I’ll fight for you.’ His voice was excited.
It wasn’t the response I wanted.
‘I don’t want you to fight for me; I don’t want anyone to fight for me. It’s too barbaric.’
Matt was always pretending that he wanted to have sex with me, ever since midway through high school, but it was just teasing. We had been best friends since playschool but never anything more.
I had been assuming that I had another year to go before I faced up to the indignity of being fought over by the male weredeer of the area, but with only six days to go Mother Nature had hit me with this. I was going to have to get birth control organised quickly too, it would be a long time before I was ready to put up with the patter of tiny hooves.
‘Fay, are you still there?’
Matt sounded worried. He was awake enough now to sense my distress.
‘Are you okay? Can I do anything?’
‘Can you come round later, when it’s light.’
‘As soon as first light hits your beautiful eyes.’
I smiled as he rang off. Behind the tough-boy image he gives the world Matt has a poetic soul. I’m probably the only one who knows it.
Unable to sleep I wandered around the house until six in the morning. Mum woke when I was making myself breakfast, and took over. I heard the growl of a big motorbike.
‘S’that Matt’s bike?’ she asked. ‘It’s a bit early for him. He’ll wake all the neighbours with that thing.’
‘Hi, Mrs G.’ Matt greeted her a minute later, pulling off his helmet and helping himself to a piece of my toast.’
Mum looked resigned and put more bread in the toaster.
Mum had always had a soft spot for Matt.
‘Have you told her?’ He asked me as he munched on a second slice of my toast.
‘Yeah, she needed to know. I need to get contraception fast.’
Matt blushed as most men do when faced with anything connected to a woman’s female functions.
There was an awkward silence until he had more toast in front of him.
‘Fancy going out today?’ The question was for Mum’s benefit. He knew the answer.
Matt left his bike at my place and we headed for the local park, always a good place to talk. The sun was bright, but it couldn’t dispel the cold wind. We were well wrapped, however, and spent some time acting childish and kicking brown and red leaves at each other, using up energy and enjoying the rustling as we shuffled through them. October is my favourite month. As we passed the park café phones were busy taking photos of the deer known to gather in the area. This near to the rutting season crowds tended to gather. Most of the deer were true deer, but I could see Janie, Tommy and Wyatt amongst them. It has become quite a tradition among the less mature of our group to see how many of them can get a ‘cute’ photo on-line. So far weredeer, unlike our aggressive cousins, the werewolves, have managed to keep our presence secret from humans.
Matt led me off the path to a log hidden deep in the undergrowth.
‘Talk about it.’ He ordered, pulling me to sit next to him.
‘I don’t want my first sex to be with somebody who has won me in a fight like a silver cup. I wanted it to be with somebody I love, and somebody who loved me back.’
Matt tucked me under his jacket where I could feel the warmth of his body.
‘Well, you’ve got another five days to find somebody. Better start looking.’
My eyes opened wide with shock as the thunderbolt hit me. Before I had absorbed the thought Matt’s lips were against mine, his tongue pushing inside. Matt was my best friend, I had never thought of him as anything else until now. Yeah, he had joked about having sex with me, but the hunger in this kiss made me realise he hadn’t been joking. Had I hurt him by misunderstanding? I didn’t remember standing up, but I could feel hardness against my thigh. I pushed back against him, causing a gasp.
‘Not here. I want your first to be comfortable, warm and safe’ he murmured, comforting my eagerness.
We were both embarrassed at buying condoms; especially since the only person serving in the chemist was Leanora, a friend of Mum’s and also a weredeer. She didn’t look at us with horror as I half expected.
‘About time you two got it together’ she smiled and threw a pack of tissues into the bag with a wink which I didn’t understand until later.
Later, spent, I relaxed on Matt’s chest, feeling his heart beat next to mine and his chest hairs soft against my breast.
‘Was I good enough for you?’
‘Stop fishing for compliments, you were marvellous, and you know it.’ Matt replied softly, his breath tickling my neck.
We lay in comfortable silence for a long time. I thought he was asleep, but suddenly he turned his head so that he could see my face.
‘Do you feel happier about the rut now?’
‘No. Now I just want you, not some deer prize-fighter.’
‘I won’t let anyone else have you, I never would have. I will fight for your honour.’
‘Now you sound like Lieutenant Worf.’ It never hurts to bring a Trekkie reference into a conversation with Matt. ‘Humans have more emotions.’
Matt had sat up and taken hold of me again.
‘But we’re not human. Not totally. Embrace deer within. Didn’t you think I’d fight for you?’
‘Matt, darling, I’m not the only one facing my first rut, it might make you feel macho and fierce, but you haven’t the experience that James and Stanley have.’
The two men I mentioned were seasoned fighters, both in their late forties as human, in their prime as deer. Their fighting skills were legendary, and both would mate with as many females as possible during the rut. Out of the rut they appeared to be ordinary married men and their wives seemed proud rather than shocked by their rut behaviour.
‘You haven’t seen my deer lately, have you?’
I had to admit I hadn’t. Not since he was still fawn-like. I wasn’t comfortable with my heritage and changed rarely. I could relax a bit more now, knowing that Matt would be there for me when it was all over. He was right; I was going to accept ‘deer within’ for the rut, much as I hated it. There was no choice.
Deer hunting laws in the UK mean that we do not need to fear guns and dogs during a rut. Instead we have photographers. According to my mum, it used to just be press photographers who intruded on our rutting grounds. Nowadays the internet spreads word and a crowd gathers. I know most of them just want to see wildlife in action, but it is a distraction. Would you like to have a crowd of people snapping photos of you when you are mating? Nor do we, but it’s a price we have to pay for our freedom.
I was nervous and stood close to Mum and Leanora as the male deer started to roam the area acting like boxers before a match – challenging each other, feinting with their antlers. I knew theoretically that my deer instincts would take over when the fighting started but as yet I felt no different. I was worried for Matt more than myself. Males were seldom killed, but they could be badly injured. Some weredeer believe that the psychological impact of failing to breed was worse than any physical harm. Suicides among my people tended to peak in November and early December.
Cameras around us were raised as Stanley roared a challenge. Without warning he and James interlocked their horns and started pushing at each other. First-timers were considered fair game and very soon a medium sized male nuzzled against my rear. I walked away, turning to make my disinterest plain, and he wandered off, only to return a few minutes later.
‘Whoa, that’s it girl. If you don’t want to you don’t have to.’
The woman was an idiot to stand so close to us, but I appreciated her approval. The male, however, wasn’t getting the message.
Again I turned away from him. A taller, more muscled opponent looked at him with arrogance before locking horns with him. The coward submitted within minutes and walked away, humiliated. I had no way to recognise Matt as a deer, but somewhere deep inside I knew he had issued the challenge. It was so like him. He nuzzled me for a minute before he turned and roared a challenge to the whole field, keeping me close behind him. A few of the older males attempted to challenge this newbie, but he was strong, and determined. Instinct drew me to him. I had heard people say that being mated as humans before fighting as deer made a difference. By the end of the fight I had changed my mind about the rutting competitions. I no longer felt like Matt’s prize, I felt honoured by his willingness to fight for me and allowed him to celebrate his victory as male deer do. Afterward many retired to a local hostelry, Matt and I retired to his bed to celebrate his victory as humans do. I needed to thank him for loving me in vain all these years.