Artwork by Annie Stegg
The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless color of sea foam, but rather the color of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea.
Unicorns are mythical beasts, most commonly depicted as a white horse with a horn. Growing up, I had been enamored with many fairytale creatures, such as mermaids and faeries, but none ever captured my heart the way unicorns have. In my adulthood I've come to be a bit of a snob in my preference of depiction of unicorns. Peter S. Beagle put it best: unicorns are cloven hooved, with long slender necks, with the finest, softest hair imaginable, the males sporting a majestic beard, and a spiral horn that shines with its own seashell light. Unicorns have the oldest, wildest grace that horses never had, that deer have only in a shy, thin imitation, and goats in dancing mockery.
As you might have guessed, I'm a big fan of The Last Unicorn. I watched the film when I was four years old, though whether it kickstarted my lifelong love for unicorns or it was already there prior to my mom purchasing it for me, I don't remember. Years later in my adulthood, I would finally read the original book the movie was based on and it has surpassed Watership Down as my favorite book. Beagle is truly a poet for the ages!
The unicorn, transformed into the Lady Amalthea. Her song, Now That I'm a Woman really resonated with me when I was growing up and struggling with the painful transition of a girl to a young woman, especially as an early bloomer.
"The most professional curse ever snarled or croaked or thundered can have no effect on a pure heart."
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a young maiden in order to see a unicorn. You only have to be pure of heart. Unicorns are a little vain, and more than anything they want to know they are recognized and celebrated for their beauty and power. Be willing to chase their shadow and recognize them for what they are, and maybe you too will be lucky enough to see one.
"Unicorns are not to be forgiven." The magician felt himself growing giddy with jealousy, not only of the touch but of something like a secret that was moving between Molly and the unicorn.
"Unicorns are for beginnings," he said, "for innocence and purity, for newness. Unicorns are for young girls."
Molly was stroking the unicorn's throat as timidly as though she were blind. She dried her grimy tears on the white mane. "You don't know much about unicorns," she said.