|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
It was one of those times again when Rosalind's need to be alone overwhelmed her common sense. She would almost certainly be missed in the great kitchen of Roland's Farm and punishment would soon follow but that was in the future. For the present the constant noise and scurry of the kitchen seemed worse than any likely beating.
Seizing a moment when everyone seemed to be looking the other way she took up a small pail, her alibi should she be stopped in the farmyard, and slipped out. For good or ill the coast seemed to be clear and in a moment her escape was complete.
There was no call for any to be using the lane she chose at this time of the morning and her luck held. With relief she slipped through a familiar gap in the thorny hedge into an arm of woodland that formed a rearguard of Shereton Forest as yet unconquered by the plow. It was rare that anyone but herself came here. The forest has a sinister reputation amongst the superstitious inhabitants of the farm. Tales of man-eating wolves and of worse things not described saved it from all but the most superficial wood gathering. Rosalind had never seen anything more threatening than a roe deer and defied the legendary with the scepticism of her fourteen years. For her the silence of the forest had an almost positive quality, it was a balm to her abused ears.
Always when she came to the forest her first moments were spent in dreams of running away for good. She knew that there was a world beyond the farm. She new there were such things as towns of many times more people than she had known in her lifetime. But she could not picture these things. Her fantasies were starved for lack of raw materials. Then, as ever, the stillness of the forest would find its way into her and thoughts and dreams would make reluctant space for the sights, sounds and smells of the life around her. Her thoughts, when they intruded, were gloomy ones. It had seemed to her for longer than she could remember that her future was a fixed thing, almost as if it had already happened. She would marry one of the farm boys, probably Sean, whom she had allowed a kiss the previous night. She would continue to drudge at the farm chores. She would probably die in childbirth like her mother before her. Lately she had begun to feel the stirrings of sexual desire; living all her life around livestock that came as no surprise to her, yet while she was attracted to Sean the fact was that she didn't like him. He was so very predictable. She could practically tell word for word what he would say in any set of circumstances. That she was far more intelligent than he was not a thought that would ever have occurred to her.
She let her feet take her where they would and, as they usually did, they carried her deeper into the forest to a small glade in which a small stream widened into a reedy pond. To her this place seemed to distil the stillness of the forest to a special intensity. She had occasionally felt such stillness on those rare occasions when she was left alone for a moment in the small, ancient, stone chapel that the family visited each Sunday but here in the glade it was available all the time. She sat on a log, careful of her thin dress, and let it soak into her.
When the unicorn emerged from the trees on the opposite side of the glade he seemed so right that she wasn't initially startled. Her first wordless reaction was not to question his presence, let alone his existence, but simply to rejoice in his beauty. He watched her as he lowered his head to drink, so graceful that his movements seemed to intensify rather than disturb the stillness of the place. Then it seemed to her that she had woken within a dream, the uncritical acceptance of the dreamer falling from her. "My God!", She thought quite distinctly, "I'm looking at a unicorn, and I'm wide awake."
The unicorn finished drinking and raised his head to look squarely at her, a few drops of water falling from his muzzle. As she sat in silence his nose was about level with the top of her head. He was pure white and his coat looked soft, more like that of a cat than a horse. She could see one of his hooves and it was small and cloven like that of a goat. His horn reminded her of an icicle, it was cloudy glass with a spiral twist. His eyes were the colour of the sky. His penis was fully extended. Without realising it she had stood up and taken a step towards him, her hands itching to touch that coat.
Did she dare? She'd seen a man once gored by a cow and how much deadlier was the alicorn than the blunted weapon of the cow. Brought up on a farm she knew the unwisdom of an incautious approach to a strange animal and yet there was nothing of fear or anger in his look. Rather he calmly met her gaze like an equal he had made no movement in response to her approach. She took another step and then a third, scarcely aware of the water running over her bare feet and soaking the hem of her dress. That put her in range of the horn but the unicorn was still as a statue. Very slowly she extended her right arm and placed her hand on the side of his head just above the eyes. For a moment she felt the soft fur, smelled the fragrance of his breath and body then suddenly something happened to her vision and she stumbled away, confused and frightened. In that instant she had seemed to be in another world. A world that seemed to be on fire, making her think of the hells that the vicar so lovingly described each Sunday. As her vision came back to normal she fled from the glade, running all the way back to the safety promise of the farmyard as if Lucifer himself were on her trail. Her mind was full of fragments of the tails of witches. She thought of the goats' feet, the penis. Had she unknowingly worshipped Lucifer himself? Was that vision a sending from God or the Saints to remind her of the penalty.
The image of the transfigured forest lingered in her mind, indelible. Every leave of every tree burned with its own unconsuming flame. The burning forest was but a backdrop for a glorious being also sheathed in multi-coloured flame. Had it been an angel come to save her soul?
By the time she got back to the farmyard the worst of the fear had passed. She was panting and full of thirst. She found the pale that she had carried from the kitchen and filled it from the well to drink. For a moment she saw her own face reflected in the water and she almost dropped the pale in shock. There were no mirrors in the farm but she had seen enough. The transfigured being in the vision had been herself. She had seen herself for a moment through the eyes of the unicorn. The glory, the transfiguration of her image was because he loved her.
The rest of the day passed like a blur. The scolding, even the caning for her unexplained absence and her torn dress found nothing in her to hurt. The unicorn's vision was always before her mind. She was beautiful. That was the amazing thing. It had never occurred to her that she was beautiful. Had anyone said it, she would have ignored it as flattery but the unicorn hadn't said she was beautiful, he had shown her. Her flight now seemed childish. An opportunity lost, perhaps, for ever.
That night, when it was fully dark, she felt him call to her. Apart from the farmer, his wife and their infant Son the whole farm household slept in the great hall, precedence measured in proximity to the fireplace. With a score of people sleeping in the same room there was always someone stirring, finding a more comfortable position, using the pisspot so it would normally have been impossible to sneak off unseen. Yet, when the unicorn called, the stillness of the forest glade seemed to have invaded the great hall and Rosalind's seemed to be the only awareness in the room. It was almost as if time had stopped for the sleepers allowing her to leave between one tick of the clock and the next.
There was no moon and the darkness in the yard ought to have been absolute yet a little of the vision's fire seemed to have found it's way into her vision so that she saw each living thing by its own light and the unliving buildings silhouetted against the fire of the trees. The night was cold but warmth seemed to well up within her so that she loosened her clothes rather than huddled in them. The forest welcomed her, its night sounds comforting rather than startling, each sudden scurrying or owl hoot, somehow expected, part of a known pattern. Her body seemed to have come by its own knowledge of what to do. She walked to the glade without ever looking at the ground yet there was not a single misstep. Not once did a dry twig crack beneath her feet. As she approached the glade she began to discard her clothes. There was no shame in her tonight.
Naked, she entered the glade, her eyes at once finding his on the other side. The two of them walked forward to meet in the shallow pond. This time she reached out with both of her hands, placing one on either side of her head. The vision came again but this time it exhilarated rather than frightened her. She saw her own face and how with infinite care he placed the tip of his horn against the centre of her forehead. A kind of tingling spread from that point of contact through her body and through her mind, scattering thoughts like frightened fishes. The tingling seemed to soften all her bones and she felt the horn sinking painlessly into her head. One final thought briefly held. "Is this death? Why would anyone fear it?". But it was not death, it was transformation. The substance of her body writhing into new shapes, her own sight coming to match his and finally as he drew back the alicorn her own alicorn growing to follow it. Moments later she bore his weight on her back as the second penetration sent a fire through her that burned away thought, past, future and left her joyous in an eternal present. Of the months that followed she retained no memories of the human sort for she was not human.
Afterwards she was able to remember only sensations. The taste of grass wet with dew. The joyous, transmuted pain of birthing. The suck of her foal on the teat. Above all the shear joy of her love's presence. Then at last a day when she found herself naked, shivering and above all alone on that fallen log in the forest glade. Humanity seeped back into her and she wept. Finally the cold drove her to return to the farm. At first she was unable to remember how to walk on two legs and she crawled for a distance but the damage to her hands and knees became too painful and she taught herself the trick again. Her clothes were long gone, of course. When she reached the edge of the forest she almost turned back. There was so much life in there. Suddenly she realised that although human in most respects she still had the eyes of the vision. Living things still burned and were glorious in her sight. She wondered if her eyes would have changed in appearance as they seemed to have done in function. It seemed a question of little importance. She shrugged and returned to the farm.
She had expected to cause consternation, returning after disappearing for who knew how long. What did surprise her was the fuss that her nakedness caused. She wondered how long it would take her to relearn the old stupidities. There were endless questions. At intervals she told them she simply didn't remember much. So much talk, so little meaning. She found that her attitude towards these people she had lived most of her life with had radically changed. Instead of reacting to them she found herself studying them. In the past she had found people frightening, irritating, kind but she had never realised that people could be interesting. In turn they distanced they seemed almost afraid of her so that she checked that first day to see if her eyes had changed. They hadn't but she did discover a strange dimple in her forehead exactly where the alicorn had first touched her that she was fairly sure hadn't been there before.
After the initial bought of weeping she was surprised to find herself free from grief. She had loved him and given him a foal. He had given her the sight and other and other gifts she was gradually discovering, such as a total knowledge of the properties of the forest plants. She knew that, having lost her virginity she would never see either of them again. Such was their nature. Yet she did not need to see them to take joy from their existence.
Within the year she left the farm. She still knew little beyond farm and forest but her fear of the unknown had gone for ever. In the years that followed she made her living as a prostitute, a witch and finally became a nun. Even though she enjoyed sex as she enjoyed most things she never again felt any trace of sexual desire, nor did she feel the lack. She never again became pregnant.
Unicorn copyright 1996 by Malcolm.
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