"Unicorns are eternal," you said, defiantly. I nodded slowly and walked through the pale blue stable door. The red suede couch looked a bit out of place in the straw, although quite at home in comparison to the dull bronze hooves of the creature delicately perched above. As I hunched over the sink, clumsily mixing five packets of Quaker Oats, flavored like peaches and cream, with lukewarm well water, I listened for the slam of the mailbox down the drive.
I listened so hard that the clacking sound of Etcetera's hooves, even dampened by the straw, seemed to shake the air in my lungs. He ran his horn against my leg, dull at the tip from your insistent nail file, and, without looking into his eyes, (which I knew would contain a solemn warning), I moved the silver bucket full of lumpy oatmeal towards his dark gray nose. He ate slowly, pausing to snort in a way so horse like that I was tempted to once again examine his horn, to insure that he wasn't some sort of Harold Hill. I had first questioned the unicorn's authenticity when he had trotted up to me from the wrong direction; from a paved road originating in Boston rather than a shady lane born in the forest. At this point, you had cuttingly pointed out that I was certainly not a virgin.
It took less time to remember this than it did to walk from the stable to the still open back door. My Converse shoes beat down the unkempt pale grass, and a path was formed by the day I got your mixed tape in the mail. You ought to have titled it "cliché" rather than after our poem. I remember that the first song was by Elliot Smith, and had no effect on me, but the last song was Kim, You Bore Me to Death by Grandaddy, and the resulting tears tasted a bit like peaches and cream. I installed a tape deck in my car.
Another time I came in from the stable, sweating like a whore in church to find a ransom note style letter, with carefully cut out letters (probably from Victoria's Secret or J Crew catalogues), that simply spelled out the crooked works "I loved you". This seemed to be the second profound statement you had ever made to me, but Etcetera's continued presence and your lack thereof made the first, on the eternal nature of unicorns, undoubtedly more useful. I put it under my pillow, and ordered a azure bra in your size and pinstripe pants in mine.
Life with a unicorn is much less rainbow sherbet flavored than you might imagine. I'm no naked chef, so my attempts to bring some variety to his diet were mediocre at best. I cannot speak to the tastes of mythical creatures at large, having only known one, but he was most pleased when brought a mimosa in the morning, followed shortly thereafter by loganberry crepes. Midmorning called for the more traditional choice of sweet grass; he preferred that spot under the magnolia tree, where we ... Supper, however, usually called for culinary innovation of some sort, most notably with the invention of a crab apple seed cake, a mint and turnip quiche, and asparagus braised and over cous cous. You would have hated all these foods. I did not like them either.
I did, however, enjoy immensely our long walks though the lanes and fields of gold. I knew as well as the Last King of Narnia did that unicorns are only for riding in extreme situations, and was comforted by the coconut sound of his hooves to the left. The dripped of leaves after it rained made a lovely sound as they turned to I couldwax poetic for hours about the glory that was inherently tied in the differentiation of seasons, a thing I had never noticed until an autumn out West had come and gone with barely a leaf approaching crimson in the first cold ghost of rain. I talked, too, of ships and sails and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, admiring all the while the clear bright eyes of my quiet companion, and the gray dapple that was nothing like your freckles. I wore neutral colors, and we must have been positively picturesque, kicking up leaves as we walk along.
It was after one of these delicious walks that I found a message from you on my answering machine, in that voice of yours that was always lathered in lilac and clove cigarettes. You said, clearly intoxicated, that you had met someone new who had the capacity to set off the nuclear explosion writhing within you. You also said some other things, that struck me as rather odd, although I may have been mistaken, for your words ran together and my ears were ringing.
My first inclination involved a complicated theory about the longevity of my answering machine tape, and an attempt to calculate the number of rewinds it could handle. My second, which slowly became reality, was to bravely press "delete" and wander out to the stable. "My Sweet Old Etcetera," I mumbled, only to find that he was sprawled over the suede couch, worn now with months of contention with hooves and horn. There was pink froth covering his soft lips, looking more like misplaced bubble gum than blood and salvia. I sat down stiffly on an orange ottoman, and absorbed the fact that you had lied.
Unicorns are not eternal.