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The Girl and the Unicorn


A clear sky, the roof-top bathed in pale moonlight. Her breath formed clouds in the air but Eleanor didn’t feel cold. Nestled into the unicorn, she watched the night passing over the city. How many nights, how many days, had she been up here? She no longer knew ……. Everything was merging one into the other. As was awareness of being awake and asleep. She thought it was a dream, the warmth that came with someone picking her up, wrapping her in their arms and carrying her away.


He sat on the floor and watched her breathing. So cold and pale when he found her, at first he thought she was dead. Both breathing and pulse were weak and she appeared to be unconscious rather than sleeping. Once he got her inside and wrapped in his sleeping bag, he heated up some soup. She only took a couple of sips before she dozed off again.

Gently, he placed a hand on her cheek, reassuring himself that her body was recovering its heat. In a little while he’d wake her again, make her sip a little more of the soup. De-hydration was a concern. He didn’t want to have to take her to a hospital. Her eyes opened, focused on his face. She smiled, patted his arm then held it to her. “One day we’ll have to face the world again,” she whispered, “….. but for now, dear one, we can take refuge here.”

“A little more soup,” he coaxed, taking this opportunity to get more liquid into her. Helped her sit up and watched her obediently drink a little more of the broth. When she was done, she called him ‘dear one’ again as she thanked him, then snuggled back into the sleeping bag.

Strange girl. Her language was not the language of today. Much too polite and gracious, like she was from another, gentler time. Who was she? He’d already gone through her back-pack, and the few things she had in there only added to the mystery. A runaway, was the gut feeling he had, but running away from what? This was no street kid or drug addict or whore, no, she was something much weirder than that. How long had she been up there on the roof, hanging onto that unicorn, looking like she was part of the statue herself? The romantic in him rather liked the idea of her being a statue come to life, but the realist was worried. Worried about what he should do with her. This was a complication he didn’t need at this point in his life.


from The Girl and the Unicorn


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