So you close your eyes.’
‘You close your eyes, and —
You can smell —
Thick and velvety.
The air heavy with honeysuckle.
The kind of warm after a scalding day, when the sun’s going down —
And the ground is hot to the touch still.
The smell of sweltering earth.’
‘Can I open my eyes?’
Look above you.
Tall trees, sweeping the edge of a burnt orange sky.
Leaves rustling —
Branches dusting the top of your head, murmuring to you.
There is dappled evening sunlight filtering through the canopy —
Tracing shifting patterns on the soft dirt path ahead of you.’
‘I’m following the path.’
‘You’re following the path.
You’re carrying a wicker basket —
With a red and white checked piece of cloth covering it —
And inside you have —
Beautiful shiny green apples —
And warm, crusty bread —
And a crystal bottle of something that’s icy cold and fizzing.
As you make your way up the path, you see a flash of movement to your right —’
‘Is it a monster?
‘Something stirs in the trees behind you —
You hear it before you see it —
A soft huff, a gentle exhalation —
A beautiful unicorn.’
‘With a silvery mane, shot through with ultraviolet and pink and blue —
And a coat so bright white it’s almost too much to look at directly —
And a horn, long and straight, which looks like it’s carved out of —’
‘And the deer and her faun bow their heads to the unicorn —
And what’s that?
There are —
Of all colours —
Shimmering iridescent in the sunset —
Fluttering about its mane and tail —
And after a moment, it opens its majestic mouth and it speaks —
And it says —’
Do you need a lift?’
You’d let me ride on your back?’
‘And he shakes his mane with a hint of impatience.’
‘I am the guardian of this wood.
I choose to do exactly as I please.
Now, where do you wish to go?’
‘What do you think?’
You hop up onto his smooth back —
And you twist your hands into his mane —
And you say —
“To the cottage at the end of the lane!”’
‘To the cottage at the end of the lane!’
‘Ah, of course.’
‘And he sets off at a gallop!
So quick that the trees become dark smudges and your eyes water.
The forest seems to move around you —
Out of your way —
The trio of yellow birds swoop down and follow you as you speed down the lane —
They pull at your sleeves, singing sweetly —
And the trees shake their branches out and soft petals rain down on your skin —
And the unicorn gallops so fast it’s like you’re levitating —
Like you’re going up up up —
Out of the forest —
Out of the trees —
Bursting into the sky above —’
We’re actually flying!’
‘You soar over the trees —
You can see the earth curving in front of you —
The sun’s dying rays spilling out over the horizon —
Just this expanse of blue and bright and orange —
For a second, you’re really flying.’
‘And then, the unicorn turns his gaze down.
He tucks his hooves under his body and you glide, gently down —
Back through the trees —
Past the birds, who stopped in awe to watch your flight —
Welcomed back by his bevy of butterflies, who cluster around him once more —
The trees part to let you both land on the soft, lush grass.
You hop off and the unicorn paws the ground.’
‘Here we are.’
‘He springs away, ready to get back to work.
You turn, and —
There’s a beautiful cottage at the end of the lane —
With a thatched roof and flowers growing thick in the garden and a cobblestone path
leading up to a front door painted candy apple red.
And you run up to the door and pull it open —
And she’s there —
Holding a basket of wheat and apples and leeks —
Her cheeks are rosy —
Her hair tumbles down her back —
She looks —’
‘Like a princess.’
‘And she says —’
‘Now, where have you been?
Food’s almost ready.’
‘And you —’
‘I run to her —’
‘And she takes you into her arms and holds you there and —
You feel —
You feel —’
‘And then you walk into the house together —
And the door closes behind you.
Happily ever after.’