Ok ok, one more story, little one and then we must sleep, with big eyes shut tight and little mouths shut even tighter. Or the dreams will pass us by and we won’t have any for tonight.
Have I ever told you about the horns of the unicorns at dawn? No? So settle in now, and don’t wiggle so much. Far far away, past the forests and the seas and the Milky Way, was a tiny kingdom called Nrthri, so happy that they had make up sad stories just to clear out their tear ducts. People were nice to each other and there was plenty of food and toys and the movies were always Oscar worthy. No, the Oscars are what we call them here on earth. They were called something else there, now Hush.
But what was best of all was that when every little nrithrin kid was born, it got its very own special unicorn. And every where the Nrithrin kid went, the unicorn would go with it. The kids loved their unicorns, who were their bestest friends, and went everywhere with them. They told them all their secrets (yes, well, language was not a barrier, now shh!) and had lunch with them and thus no child ever felt left out or lonely. They always had a friend.
The unicorns were pretty and glittery and colorful. Azures and turquoise and sea foam, and corals and peaches and periwinkles, with swirls and spots and stripes and paisley, their wings feathery and lacy and softly organza, some glowed from within and others caught the light and gleamed. And every where they went, people smiled, for who could resist the sight? Except for one.
Zum, a little Nrithrin girl, had, ummmmm let’s say … a very different unicorn. He didn’t move like the other unicorns. He wouldn’t gracefully dart here and there like the others, he would trot, or even gallop, his splendid shanks bunched and lengthened, his deep heavy breath filled his enormous chest, his tail streamed out behind him proudly waving. He didn’t look like the other unicorns. For he was the color of early dawn. The color of smoke just before it disappears into thin air. That color that isn’t really a color just a suggestion of being.
And so when the poachers came to steal the horns of the unicorns… What? Didn’t I tell you about the poachers?? Non sense!! I’m sure I did. The greedy ones who thought the horns were magical, the source of all this happiness? Bzzt. I did. I know I did. Pay attention child.
Yes the poachers came, in their trucks, determined to steal the source of all happiness, the colorful horns, so that they could crush them up and package them into little bottles and sell them, little bits and pieces of stolen joy which would give someone a tiny spark of … Something. They didn’t need to keep any of the horns because they would have piles of paper, which could buy things and everyone knew buying things was so much better than happiness any day.
Every time the poachers came, first they looked for the Nrithrin kids, and then they would catch the unicorn and carefully slice off the horn. they carefully sampled the horns, some blues and some pinks. Reds and browns and greens and yellows all made it into the mix. Ochres and ambers and aubergine too. Oranges and purples and teals hues. So Zum knew the only way to escape them was to pretend there were no kids, no unicorns, no wings, and thus no horns and so she got all the kids together and the unicorns too. The Nrithrin kids practiced looking like adults. They sat in front of screens and typed into spreadsheets. Some stood and talked, and others argued. A few said No over and over again and a bunch of others got onto trains and went away to cities. And the unicorns practiced folding down their wings and changing colors, and becoming boring, clumping around on hooves rather than flying, their horns slowly leaching color till they were invisible, transparent. They practiced over and over again till they were really good.
And so when the poachers came, as their trucks came rumbling over the bridge, they searched for the Nrithrins and unicorns in vain but all they found were boring adults “working” and just regular horses, munching grass and buttercups. Bewildered they searched behind the fridges and under the tables. They peered up at the sky and shimmied into mole holes under ground. But nope. They didn’t find any magical horns. And so defeated they left, grumbling and mumbling.
The girls cheered and the boys hurrahed. They had defeated the evil poachers. And that made them even happier than before. It was quite obnoxious. But ever since then all you can find during the day are adults and horses, and you can only see the Nrithrin kids and the horns of the unicorns at dawn when they glitter and glow in all their glory and fly about on their great wings.
But you have to sleep now, and maybe tomorrow we can tip toe to the barn and catch the unicorns.

The horns of the unicorns at dawn
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