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Bedtime Stories: “Emilia, Who Was Not Like Other Unicorns”


Emilia was not like other unicorns. Because – she had been corrected all his life – she was only a horse. The horn is there, Emilia would insist, you just can’t see it. It’s secret. Galloping through the known meadows she would softly neigh the pain away, pretending to be a more mythical mare until the long shadow crept across Great Stable, the meadow of her birth. One evening as the long shadow approached, tired of being herself, she slipped across the border of Great Stable into an uncharted meadow, coming at last to a palace of glittering mirrors in the middle of nowhere. There at the gate she was greeted by a friendly blacksmith who invited her inside for her fill of oats and apples. Sure enough, throughout the palace interior were bottomless buckets of oats, apples, and more. To her surprise, Emilia found the mirrored walls displayed her with a triumphant horn atop her head. You can be as glorious as you appear in these walls if you’ll agree to wear my shoes, the blacksmith told her, then offered four silver horse shoes upon a platter which glinted under tinny lamplight. She imagined flaunting her new horn to all her naysayers. Agreed, she said, admiring her wishful reflection. That night though, attempting to leave the palace, Emilia felt her feet magnetized to the mirrored floor. Oh, the blacksmith spoke from the spiral staircase: There can be no leaving here I’m afraid, for that is the price. For weeks Emilia remained, admiring her image around every corner, eating oats, apples, until they began to taste like nothing, like water, like dirt. Soon the mirrors began to blacken, and Emilia fled to her host. It’s not there anymore! she complained. The blacksmith stopped hammering for a moment. Is it not? he asked. But hasn’t it always been there? Emilia, embarrassed, considered the question carefully. Sure it has. I mean, of course it’s there. At this the wise blacksmith smiled. Raising his hammer high to strike the anvil, he said: Then why does it matter whether or not anyone else can see it?





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