You were only twenty when you saw the unicorn. The land around you was arid; the two lane highway was the path on which you followed the black beast. Standing at the yellow center line his eyes fixed firmly on yours and sleep overcame you until you could only see the black sheen of his coat, the opal of his horn, the inconceivable depth of his dark eyes. Everything in the morning landscape melted into the earth, away from the light and the sky became twilight and cloudless and then blackened as it filled with stars and it was just your two feet and the unicorn’s hooves making all of the sound.
You followed him for twenty miles, passed twenty totems carved of precious gemstone. You tried to remember them all as you walked but you could only remember the train. It was the second totem, the first, was a replica of the beast you followed, but in grey with amazing green emeralds inlaid for the eyes. The train was the only inanimate, soulless statue. It seemed to follow you for your entire journey. That journey seemed in all appearances to be a dream, but was not. In fact, it was the road to the other side. A place you feel you have been before, a place that is coming back to you slowly…
You began to see the silhouettes of the great rocks against the sky, where the unicorn stopped and became a silhouette as well. His great mass and blackness seemed to move although he stood perfectly still, although he fixed you unnervingly, within his gaze. Only moments passed and finally you began to enjoy the closeness to the beast.
In that moment the sun blazed around you so brightly it was as if it had collided with the planet. The unicorn’s eyes had changed as well, and then, instead of ebony hollows, you were peering into emeralds. Beyond the crystal lens of the eye was a forest, illuminated in an even brighter light. Your gaze was drawn deeper and deeper into the forest until finally you realized, you had actually mounted the magical beast and it had brought you into the forest of its own eye. In the forest the unicorn had changed the color of its coat into a magnificent slate grey.
The realm that you knew of, the world of driving your little white truck through the Four Corners area had vanished forever at the moment when you fell asleep and began to follow the black unicorn. And suddenly, you remembered all twenty tokens and saw each year of your former life and how each totem represented each year. You learned a lot from this connection, you reflected on your faults and what made you proud about how you lived.
The unicorn, in its new form with emerald eyes and a grey mane led you then to your final gate, a place where you would go to your next life and new destinations would be realized. You might be a piper, you might be a banana plantation worker or you might be a librarian. But you would always be the amazing artist you were from 1978 to 1999. You would always have the gentle soul and compassionate heart. Everyone would know you wherever you went even though your name would change over time. You would touch the hearts of so many, fill them all with laughter. In this next life, you might live until you were eighty-six. You could realize a wife, children, see your siblings grow up and become strong like you. Bury your parents in their old age.
And your hair may be grey and the journey through the darkness may be very long and slow on your old feet. You may ponder all of the totems with a greater exertion the next time you meet the unicorn. The next time you meet the unicorn.