Mama always said that angels were a load of hooley balooley. I was 19 when I found out that Mama sometimes didn’t know what she was talking about.
Riding my bike home from work usually found me daydreaming about some fantastical creature. Except for the small forest between the Hudson’s and the Carey’s farms the landscape was flat, often brown, and boring to look at. Daydreaming let me turn those browns in to lions hiding in wait for their prey, or great desert dunes where the camels outnumbered people. At times I imagined them so large, the camels I mean, that I knew the ridges between the dunes must have been left as they ran in great herds searching for humans to trample and drive from their lands.
One day as I rode, I was imagining that the giant rock that stood at the entrance to the forest was perhaps a griffin, lying in wait to pounce if I got too close. Behind the deathly still griffin I felt rather than saw movement. I placed my imagination firmly behind my curiosity so that any danger would be minimal. After all, my reality was a slash of greenery in a landscape drowning in dreary.
Throwing the bike against the rock I headed towards the trees. Perhaps there was an animal injured. Although, if I brought one more home to Mama she might make good on her threat and make me move out to the woodshed.
After the heat of the afternoon ride, stepping under the trees, the shade felt wonderful. A small path covered with tiny fallen branches, leaves and moss announced my journey and I ventured further in to the damp cool.
My brother Jared always muttered about his spidey senses after seeing Spiderman. For the first time I figured he might be on to something. The back of my neck tingled from more than my hair brushing against it. Once again I felt movement. My head turned in the direction it registered. No other part of me moved, not even to breathe, for at least a minute. Then, as I gasped in some much needed air my legs took over and began running. Not as any sane person would expect, in the opposite direction of what I was seeing, but towards it.
It focussed on me as I approached. As far as I could see, or feel, it did not seem threatened by my fast and ungainly approach. When I was close enough that I could reach out and touch it, which my hands were twitching to do, with a grace I had never imagined, the unicorn curled up on the ground, tears flowing down its face like melted silver. As they dripped on to the forest floor a pool formed. As the pool grew so did its turbulence, eddies of mist circled out of it before dropping back in to it only to rise and fall over and over again.
With the cool, the forest now seemed to be bathed in a dark and damp sadness. The weight of it made drawing a breath difficult. I did the only sensible thing I could think of, and curling my legs under me lay my head against the unicorn’s neck and closed my eyes.
It should have been shocking but when an arm slid around me all I felt was peace. Opening my eyes I lifted my head and watched with such fascination as the transformation ran down the limbs. Gone was the softness of the fur, replaced with smooth fair skin. Long nails protruded from both his; yes this was definitely a male, misshapen and large toes and fingers.
All that remained from my unicorn was his head. The large eyes still flowed with tears and the horn glowed softly in the dappled light.
‘It is best you go,’ the unicorn said.
‘Why do you cry?’ I asked. Of all the things happening it seemed the most important question to have an answer to.
To be continued…