I lie with her in bed one night, stroking her silken hair, humming Out of Darkness under my breath. She is still awake, her eyelashes casting shadows onto her cheeks. She quietly grasps her velveteen terry-cloth blanket and watches me with her big, round eyes. I am most content and happiest for moments like these. These quiet nights, with the gentle hum of the air-conditioning in the background, my table lamp casting dancing patterns on the fuchsia walls. I stroke her smooth cheek, kiss her and take in the smells of Johnson’s baby powder from her person.
“Do unicorns exist?” she suddenly asks me.
I think for a moment. “Of course they do”.
“So why don’t we ever see them?”
“Because they’re shy creatures. And you must have a heart pure as crystal before you have the privilege of even catching a glimpse of its shimmery horn”.
“My friends say there is no such things as unicorns. They are not real. They’re made up for stories and by people.”
“Who are your friends?” I sound almost indignant now. “That’s because they’ve never seen one. How do you think stories about unicorns came to life? There must have been some unicorns in the world in the beginning, so that people could write about them. Am I right?” I am treading on thin ice here, and I have strange beliefs- but in a time like this, I am conflicted if I should share these beliefs with her… or if I should take the path of the righteous and lead her to believe what “normal” people would.
How do I explain to her- and to people, in general, that I believe in the mystical and life beyond? How do I say, “I believe in fairies” without sounding like a complete nut-job to the general population? How can I explain that there is so much more to our lives in the Universe, and that in a mystical realm parallel to our world, we are but minute creatures of existence? How do I tell her that I have seen beyond the stars, and felt the magic of a force beyond our world? How can I go on to pretend that I am “normal” when I know that I am not, that I am capable of feeling the touch of a sad and deprived soul?; the smoothest, lightest touch that lingers for a moment longer on my skin, making the tiny hairs on my arms and neck stand up. How can I say “Unicorns were once creatures of the Devil, but they flew to the Red Sea one day and burnt him with the sacred water from there” without sounding ominous, mad and eccentric? What happens then? Would I be committed to a mental institution, declared unfit to be a mother to my child? I am the only parent she has in this entire world, and like me, I want her to grow up with big dreams, believing in the infinitely impossible, and having the courage to converge dreams and reality.
“Yes”, she says, but a little more furtively. “But there is no Santa Claus. So how can there be unicorns?”
I lean in to her and hold her in my arms, and touch her cheek. “Do you like unicorns, my sweet?” I ask her.
“Yes”! she exclaims. “I wish I could have one as a pet”.
“And so you will,” I whisper. “But you must believe with all your might and all your heart, and maybe one day, you will see a unicorn. But you can never make it yours. Remember that they are special creatures and they belong to everyone. You cannot make them yours. Do you understand?”
Nodding. Vigorously. “So how can I see a unicorn one day?”
“By doing good. By caring for others and loving with honesty. By having a crystal-pure heart. And….going to school everyday and finishing up your school homework.” I couldn’t resist adding in that last bit.
“OK!” she snuggles deeper into her pillow, breathes heavily. “Good night, Mommy. I love you.”
“I love you, too, baby”, I tell her, kissing her head.
So strike me down with your rod, o’mighty Gods, if I have lied to my child and led her to believe in the same twisted things I do.