On the Day of Silence

January 22, 2012
It’s the Day of Silence again, and I am already tired of everyone being so quiet. I hate this time of the month. It’s always so upsetting. Everyone is sad because they are remembering what our ancestors have gone through over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I am remembering too, and I am thankful for everything my ancestors have gone through to protect their people. It’s just that I wonder sometimes how much mourning one can suffer through before there is nothing left to mourn over. It’s like we keep reliving the pain, over and over and over. Why? What is the point? Why can’t we just go on with ourselves? Stop making ourselves — our lives — miserable.

Out of everyone here, I may be one of the only ones that actually has a reason to mourn. My little sister was killed six years ago by a large dog that attacked her. She was only three and I was seven. And I witnessed everything: the biting, the screaming, the terror, the dying. And the gunshot when my father finally shot the crazed animal. But it was too late for Avery. She couldn’t be saved. And then, one year ago, both my parents died on a hunting trip, by an animal, just like Avery. It had to have been a bear; the scratches on their dead bodies we found days later said so. That’s why I can say that if anyone has a right to suffer, it is me. I’ve lost everything.

On this day of every month I go out into the forest, to my favorite tree, where I know, if I’m very quiet, I will see my unicorn in all his glory. The beautiful rosy hair over his back and face, his violet mane and tail, his white pointed horn in the middle of his forehead. He’s alone, like me. We are each other’s company. He is all I have left now, and I am all he has left, since he separates himself from everyone and everything. Even me.

He wants me — I can feel it. But he’s afraid of getting too close. He doesn’t want to hurt me because he knows if he loses control, he could. I know he won’t, though. His heart is too pure. He is too good to be able to hurt me. He thinks I’m naïve for thinking this.

There he is, hiding behind a group trees and brush, poking his head out to stare at me with his wide violet eyes. He is so beautiful. I wish he would let me near.

Today he might. Today I plan to approach him and beg him not to run. I don’t know whether he’ll stay or not, but I can only hope. The last time I tried approaching him, he vanished before my eyes, moving so fast, I hardly saw him leave.

Oh, how thrilling it would be to ride on his back while he ran. Zooming pass trees and landscapes so quickly I’d lose my breath. I hope he’ll let me ride him today.

Slowly, I climb down from the mesquite tree I’ve been hiding in. Aaron, my lovely unicorn, warns me. Don’t, he begs. I don’t want to hurt you.

“You won’t,” I tell him, speaking for the first time on the Day of Silence since I lost Avery six years ago. He takes several steps back, watching me carefully.

You have no idea, Ruth, he whispers in my head. I’ve killed so many people.

“You can’t kill me,” I remind him. And even if he does, it seems fitting, like it’s my destiny to be killed by an animal.

He doesn’t reply, but hesitates, swishing his tail back and forth. He knows he couldn’t kill me. He loves me, and that’s enough to be able to control his inner horror. The nature of the globally feared unicorn.

He was not always a unicorn, I remember him telling me once, when we’d first met, but a human boy, around my age. But he got too close to a unicorn, like he’s afraid of me getting too close to him now. The unicorn attacked, bit him, and left him to die in a pool of human blood — his blood. But he didn’t die. An old woman who nursed him back to health saved him. She knew what would happen to him in the year to follow. She knew the transformation was inevitable, yet she still saved him, because he was a life worth saving. Now, his humanity fights to control the aggressive unicorn inside him.

I take several cautious steps towards him. I don’t want him to run away. Not again. Not like the last twenty-something times I’ve tried getting close to him.

Ruth, he whispers. He sounds mournful, as if he’s already killed me.

“I know,” I whisper back, freezing in my steps. “I know you love me. I love you, too. Stop pushing me away.”

He whinnies once, and takes one step back, still afraid. But then he freezes when I drop to my knees, pleading.

“Aaron,” I whisper his name. He’s never heard me speak his name before. “Please. Don’t leave again. You’re all I have left.”

I’m a murderer, Ruth, he says. What if I can’t control myself when the monster in me rages and you’re around?

“You can do it,” I tell him. “You are strong.”

He doesn’t move, doesn’t speak. He’s a statue.

“Just one day,” I tell him.

If I kill you, I’ll have nothing left.

“If you leave again, I’ll have nothing left.”

We’re still for several minutes, me on my knees in the dirt, Aaron standing there, staring at me with his beautiful violet gaze. His matching tail is the only thing that moves, swishing; it’s also the only sound other than the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, and the occasional chirping of the blackbirds.

Aaron steps forward, finally realizing and accepting that he can’t hurt me; he loves me too much to let the aggressive monster inside him kill me. My eyes tear up as I reach out for him, being closer than I’ve ever been to my unicorn before.

He’s soft, like he’s wearing a rosy velvet coat. He’s still cautious as he helps me onto his back. I grip his mane, afraid he’ll change his mind and make me get off.

Then he’s running, and my breath is lost, but I don’t care. This is everything I’ve ever wanted. To be with my unicorn, my Aaron, running through the land lightning fast. He takes me away from Ashes, the sad town that remembers every bad thing that ever happened.

“Never look back,” I beg him, holding him tightly to me.

Never, he agrees. And he doesn’t slow down.

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