When she first left me I stayed in the snowy clearing and waited. I made not a sound, like a fawn in the thicket. I estimated how long she would be and then doubled it so it would be like a surprise when she came back earlier than expected. There was never a surprise return, only me alone in a clearing full of whiteness and soft birdsong. Before night fell I picked a direction and walked. My mother wasn't coming back. She had threatened as much before, even left me for hours at a time until I was hungry and half frozen. It was winter and I was burdensome and slow to grow. She had other things to do.
Moving kept me warm. My wings lacked the longest and strongest of their flight feathers but they did serve to keep the oft falling snow off my back. When it started to get dark I found a quiet place beneath some heavy branches where a bed full of warm decaying pine needles and leaves waited to soil my creamy white coat as I slept. The snow could not reach this ground but piled up on the branches above to insulate my little nest a little more. I did not wonder if I would wake in the morning. I tucked my pink hooves beneath my belly and nestled my chin to the soft skin of my chest. I welcomed sleep. Somewhere in time I looked back at this moment and was grateful for a young flexible mind that could drift off into despite being so utterly alone and undeniably at risk. One day I would refuse to ever be as vulnerable as on this night.