Heather and the Unicorn



“Granny?” said the little girl, “Tell me that they’re real.
“Beth at school – she said they’re not. I don’t know how to feel.”
“No, my child, no, they’re not. They simply don’t exist.”
Granny’s voice was soft and sad like rolling mountain mist.

“What about the stories, and the pictures in my book?
“There’s Unicorns on every page. Come and have a look.”
Granny dried the apples she’d been washing at the sink –
“Heather, Darling, stop it. This is silly, don’t you think?

“Why not come and help me make a lovely apple pie?”
But Heather wasn’t there because she’d crept away to cry.
Unicorns weren’t real. So had all the books been lying?
Heather wasn’t just upset – inside she felt like dying.

She crawled beneath the stairs and sat, her chin upon her knees,
And in the musty dark she whispered, “Someone, help me, please!”
The next thing Heather knew, she was lying down in bed.
A monitor was bleeping – there was bandage round her head.

Granny sat beside her in a lilac plastic chair.
She looked like she’d been up all night – she hadn’t done her hair.
A nurse was standing solemnly. Granny’s eyes were red.
“The doctor saved your life,” she said. “I thought that you were dead.

“I found you in the cupboard in a flood of silver paint.
“You must have knocked it over – you’ve had quite a nasty faint.
“But now you’re getting better and your head is on the mend –
“Tomorrow I shall take you home – I’ll tell your little friend.

“He’s been waiting in the corridor. He’s ever so polite.
“Arthur. Yes. That’s what he said. What a ray of light.
“Shall I send him in now? He’s been waiting here all day.
“If you want some privacy, I'll send the nurse away.”

Heather weakly nodded though she knew that when he entered,
This boy would be a stranger. In this knowledge she felt centred.
Granny rose and took the nurse and as they reached the door,
Granny smiled warmly like she never had before.

And then there was a silence, then the sound of someone’s feet
And the ‘Someone’ wasn’t Granny. Who was Heather going to meet?
And there he was – The Boy with eyes as dark as Deepest Space;
On his wrist, a bracelet shining fractals on his face.

“Hello Heather,” Arthur whispered. “Are you feeling better?
“This is not your time so I have written you a letter.
“I cannot tell you everything; the things you want to know.
“But learning is a process, and the pace is often slow.”

Heather couldn’t speak, but only gaze upon his eyes
And out into a cosmos of a trillion fire flies.
Mountains grew and seas froze over. Planets rose and shone,
And Heather knew that this was where the Unicorns had gone

And where she too would one day venture, leaving Earth behind,
And with it all its concepts – save for clarity of mind.
“That’s enough now,” Arthur whispered, pushing her away.
“Tell you what. I’ll let you read some more another day.

“But next time, when you want me, you don’t need to send me pain;
“It sometimes seems to ease the hurt, but goes against the grain.
“If you send me feelings that I’m standing right here with you
“I’ll be here before you think Me – there is so much I can give you.

“Talk to me forever ’cause you know I’m always there.
“Go to sleep now. Get some rest. I’ll see you soon. Take care.”
As Heather lay her head back down she smiled into sleep.
In the hallway Nurse and Granny also rested deep.

Arthur crossed the shiny floor and stepped inside the lift.
And when the doors had closed there was a silent, seamless shift.
Heather felt him leaving from her slumber down the hall.
She’d seen enough that night to know she hadn’t seen it all.

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