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The Unicorn

Story by Skylar Alexander (Read author interview) September 18, 2017

Art by SmokeLong Quarterly

You meet the unicorn at a bar where you know no one will find you. You stare at the unicorn because you don’t know how not to stare at the unicorn. Even the man in the dress stares at the unicorn, but the unicorn doesn’t seem to notice. The unicorn stares at you. The unicorn thinks you’re a fair maiden, even though your face is masked with blood. You are not a fair maiden, but rather a plague. You do not know how to tell the unicorn this. Who are you to tell the unicorn anything?

At the party for the Malaysian, you see the unicorn holding an alien baby. Everyone at the party is an installation artist or a political revolutionary or a unicorn or you. The unicorn smells you everywhere, calls you lily of the valley when you’re really everything and nothing. You and the unicorn walk home, carrying alien babies. When you get home, the unicorn lays its head in your lap and weeps, and you run your fingers through its rainbow mane.

You don’t know how your life grew to contain a unicorn, but here you are, at the grocery store with the unicorn; at the DMV with the unicorn; at the climate action rally with the unicorn. You and the unicorn watch The Last Unicorn together. You’re afraid of the Red Bull, but the unicorn protects you from being driven into the sea. The unicorn is good to you. You try and try to love the unicorn, but you’ve never loved a unicorn before. You think about the particulars before the feelings; how do you tell your parents you love the unicorn if you can’t even tell them you voted Democrat in the last election? They find the mark of the unicorn on your body, and the shame you feel grows into a date palm in your heart.

The unicorn leads you into the tall prairie. The hill is steep, but the unicorn is graceful, picks the path like a mapmaker. The unicorn sees many bats, but you only hear them chirping. The unicorn shines like an opal in the dull, dead grass. The unicorn lets you touch its horn, and you suddenly are a fair maiden, virgin again. The unicorn kisses you and kisses you and kisses you until you’re at last shameless.

About the Author

Skylar Alexander is a writer, teacher, and freelance designer living in Iowa City, IA. She serves as the assistant director of the Young Emerging Writers Program (Midwest Writing Center – Rock Island, IL) and as vice chair of the Iowa Youth Writing Project’s Community Advisory Council (Iowa City, IA). Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from Forklift, Ohio, Hobart, PromptPress, Poetry City, USA, and elsewhere. She received her BA in English and Entrepreneurial Management from the University of Iowa in 2015.

This story appeared in Issue Fifty-Seven of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fifty-Seven

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