Infe’s daughter Felfen was thrilled by the Unicorn sightings, not in small part because the Factory bosses were so unhappy about the whole thing, because the grumpus-grownups (not her mother and not her father, but the others, the dour sour-puss-faces who didn’t like smiles or laughter or fun) were so miserable about it, because her horrid teacher had been telling all of them that Unicorns Did Not Exist, they were a fairy-tale figment of fevered fantasy.
Felfen was happy, too, because the unicorn was beautiful, and because most of the adults and even the older kids couldn’t see them, so they were something special, just for her and the other kids. Only they could see the bright creatures eating the flowers, and the laundry, and the pies left out to cool. Only they could tell their mothers when it was safe to keep the washing out, and when they should bring it in. Only they could tell which plants the unicorns seemed to turn up their noses at – there were only a few – and suggest those to the gardeners who suddenly wanted their opinions much more than they ever had.
Kids who had been, until now, underfoot, obnoxious, brats, were suddenly being called Valued Members of the Community, and not just for their ability to handle small machinery and get things out of tight places. And in the lead of this child Unicorn-spotting force was Felfen, daughter of the shift supervisor and the town clocksmith, proud as could be and being very virtuous about the whole thing.
“They don’t like coriander,” she told her mother, who told the foreman. “They make a face at it if they even get just a leaf. And they really hate mint, of course.” Everything hated mint. Even Felfen. “But they like the wool socks the best.”
As the Townfolk began hanging their socks with coriander in the toes, and leaving their boots wreathed in mint, Felfen noticed that one unicorn in particular – the one with the horn with no pink in it, and the mane with the golden streaks – had begun following her around.
At first, she thought it was a coincidence – the Town was big, but it wasn’t that big, and she and her gang of Unicorn Spotters were all over its streets now, forgoing classes and sometimes even work. There were, she thought, about twelve unicorns that liked spending time in and around the Town. You could tell them apart, if you knew what to look for, by horn shade and mane color, height, and shagginess of the fetlock feathering. And the one following her was, she was pretty sure, always the same one.
Once she was sure it wasn’t a coincidence, Felfen began to worry. What was it the thing wanted from her? Were they unhappy at being spotted and pointed out, spied on? Did they want her to stop? She started taking shortcuts through buildings, trying to sneak away from the unicorn. She started hiding inside more, even when it meant someone else got the praise for spying. She started going back to class. And yet, every time, when she stepped outside, there it was. It was chasing her.
Looking into its red eyes, Felfen wasn’t as thrilled by the Unicorn sightings anymore.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/279109.html. You can comment here or there.