Unicorn in the Attic (A Christmas story)
© Peter l. Barnes and Peter Barnett
A Unicorny story.
“Can you get the tree down, please,” called Jamie’s wife, Susan.
Another trip up into the dusty attic, he thought. He never remembered where he had put the tree or all the lights and decorations. Christmases never lived up to their expectations since the family split up across the globe.
He dropped the attic hatch, pulled down the ladder and climbed up. He switched on the light, which created a series of bright spots and many dark shadows. He had never explored some of the shadowy areas, not that he was worried about what he might find, in fact he imagined hidden treasures, tucked in ancient trunks. But there was still enough space in the lit areas, for some suitcases, toy boxes and old soft furnishings that they stored up here.
Climbing up and stooping low to avoid the low beams, he began his search, sweeping the tiny torch across the humps and lumps of cloth covered boxes and small furniture discards.
“What,” exclaimed Jamie, spinning around and hitting his head on the rafters, expecting to see her pretty head over the top of the hatch.
“Did you say something Susan,” he called down.
Not a peep from below.
“That’s strange, I’m sure she called. It must be my imagination.”
“Am I a figment of your imagination,” said the voice, from the black depths of the attic.
“Who are you?” Jamie asked, swinging the beam of his small torch around the dark recesses.
“Me,” said a creature, appearing out of the shadows.
A beautiful Unicorn with a glistening golden horn in the middle of its forehead appeared from the gloom. The exquisite Unicorn, only two foot tall, was adorned by red and blue ribbons in its perfect white mane, stood in front of Jamie, swishing its feathery tail, stirring up dust and sweeping it from the rafters.
“Careful,” said Jamie, hiding his eyes from the perilous dust. “How did you get up here.”
“I had gone to the South Pole, but got lost, I was battered by the wind and confused by the fluttering leaves and blown back home.”
“Why did you go to the South Pole,” said Jamie, humouring the apparition.
“I wanted to find Santa and volunteer for a reindeer job.”
“But Santa lives at the north pole.”
“I know that now,” said the Unicorn. “None of the penguins had heard of him and anyway they were too busy going to a formal dinner party.”
“What I want to know is, what are you?” said Jamie. “I can see you are a Unicorn but of course they don’t exist.”
The Unicorn span around, rearing up on its back hooves and splaying out his front legs and waving them in front of Jamie’s eyes. “So, what am I then?”
“Well, you certainly look unicornish, but do you really only have one horn.”
“Actually, they are two horns twisted into one, my mother wanted me to have curly horns, as hers are so straight and now I can’t do a thing with it.”
“Them, to be truly accurate.”
“Ever since, I’ve been trying to find someone to take me seriously.”
“Don’t do that.”
“Sorry. So now you now have a unique horn hence your name,” said Jamie. “Do you grant wishes.”
“Your name is Grant?” said the Unicorn. “Mine’s Oliver.”
“Yes, Oliver Twist.”
“Actually, my name is Jamie and I shall call you twisty.”
“That’s not nice.”
“Where did you come from originally?”
“Your little girl put me on the tree last year.”
“Oh Aimee, my niece.”
“But you were tiny, no more than a couple of inches.”
“Well, it’s been a year.”
“So, what did you eat?”
“Only the silver garlands.”
“And where’s all the poo,” asked Jamie. “I hope that’s been disposed of suitably.”
The Unicorn sheepishly pointed with his front hoof, at a pile of glitter. “Sorry.”
“No that’s fine, I suppose.”
“Well it should be fine its been right through me.”
“Enough of this nonsense. Now, do you know where the tree is?”
“So where is it then, bloody logical Unicorn.” (unique Horn)
“I’ve hidden it.”
“Hidden it, why?”
“I want a better role this year.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well I thought I could replace the donkey in your stable scene.”
“Don’t be silly, there were no Unicorns in the stable.”
“Nevertheless, you’re not going to be the donkey.”
“Then I want to be placed at the top of the tree instead of the fairy.”
“You’d overbalance, fall to the ground and be smashed into a 1000 pieces.”
“I’m a soft toy how could I be smashed?”
“Because I’d stomp on you for being such a pain.”
“That’s not very nice.”
“Nor are you demands,” said Jamie. “What if I drape some lights around you.”
“Blue and red to match my ribbons?”
“No thank you. I’ve seen the movie and I’ve decided, I want to be a talking Donkey.”
“But that’s not a Christmas movie.”
“Shrek is a Christmas movie.”
“No. It’s about fairy tale creatures.”
“Well there’s a fairy on top of the tree.”
“True, but actually it’s supposed to be an angel.”
“Fine, I’ll be an angel then.”
“Have you got wings?”
“Of course,” the unicorn unfolded a backpack and extracted its wings. “Da dahh.”
“Where did you get those?”
“Umm, just lying around.”
“And is that angel dust mixed in with the sparkles?”
“No, no. I’m sure its fine.”
“You’ve eaten the Angel, haven’t you?”
“Maybe some of her.”
“Bring her out.”
The unicorn cantered to the dark areas of the attic and returned with the ravaged angel
“You’ve eaten her legs, how cruel.”
“But she was trying to help me. She said she didn’t need legs, and that a cone would be fine.”
“Angel. Is that right?”
“Yes, although I’m still waiting for Twist to get a cone for me.”
“I’ll sort that out when we get downstairs,” said Jamie. “Meanwhile I need to fix Twist. Now where is that toybox.”
Turning around he found the old toybox they used to get out toys for visiting nieces and nephews, when they came to visit.
“Bullseye, where are you?”
A clippety, cloppety sound rose from the toy box and up popped Bullseye.
“Hello Bullseye. I hope it’s not too cramped down there.”
Bullseye nodded enthusiastically, not understanding a word.
“Let me have your halter,” said Jamie, slipping off the leather straps.
“Now then Unicorn, you’ve been a very naughty boy, come here.”
The Unicorn came close and hung his head down and Jamie slipped the halter over his neck and strapped up his mouth. “That’ll stop you being a talking unicorn which can be very annoying.”
Which is why I have a flying unicorn on the top of my tree.