Once there was a girl named Sunshine in the land of Gras whose best friend was a unicorn named Penrose. Because her father was King of Gras and her mother was the queen, she lived in a Scottish medieval castle.
Penrose went with her everywhere she went, protecting her from harmful beasts in the enchanted forest. She loved to play with him in her rose garden and splash with him in the hot, bubbling mineral springs.
“I love your horn,” 12-year-old Sunshine announced, touching the ivory knife-like spear on his slender forehead. Only the rhinoceros was known to have a similar horn on its head, and this unicorn’s alicorn had a red tip.
More than once, his horn had pierced the heart of beasts of the forest in Sunshine’s defense. Although she was a princess, she had many jealous enemies, trying to prevent her destiny to rule Gras as queen.
Sometimes, she would spend the night with Penrose in his unicorn lair next to her family castle. She brushed his silky white coat with her own golden hairbrush and braided his long flowing tail.
“No one dares come anywhere near me when you’re by my side,” she voiced, stroking his satin fur.
On days when Sunshine was sick, Penrose helped her get well quickly. His horn had magical healing qualities, and he would grind it against a rock and mix its powder in tea as a potion to cure her ailments.
Days later, his horn would grow back to its regular shape, as if he had never used it as medicine. When Sunshine would swim in a river or lake, he would dip his horn in it first, cleansing it for her.
He was always making sure that she would never be poisoned by the evils of the forest. In fact, the cup itself from which Sunshine would drink was made from Penrose’s unicorn horn. On the base of the cup was inscribed: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” So, whatever Sunshine drank was purified by Penrose’s purifying healing powers and virtues.
“Let’s take a nap together by the river,” Sunshine wisped, one afternoon in the beautiful forest.
The unicorn curled up next to her in the tall grass, neighing, and fell asleep with its head on her lap. That particular afternoon, beasts had been watching the pair from a distance, waiting to pounce. As Sunshine and Penrose rested, the beasts circled, and when Penrose was fully asleep, the creatures descended.
“Stop!” Sunshine screamed as loud as she could, as if waking from a nightmare. Penrose rose to his feet.
Although it was devastating, Penrose threw himself in front of the beasts, giving Sunshine a chance to flee. As she ran into the distance, she saw the beasts slaughter her most majestic best friend.
She cried all night until she could no longer produce tears, and she felt sick to her stomach. She sobbed: “Why did Penrose have to die? I will never be able to go on. I miss him so much that I can hardly breathe.”
“Why do you weep as though I am dead?” a sudden voice boomed in her bedroom, shaking the walls.
There stood Penrose in all his glory and stately heroism. “I am now more real than ever before,” he declared. She ran across the room and threw her arms around his neck, kissing his cheeks as she wept.
“I thought you had died,” she cried. “You’re my beloved companion. Never leave me again!”
Almost like an angelic being, Penrose accompanied Sunshine until the day she died, but only she saw him. Although unicorns from other lands would visit Sunshine in Penrose’s honor, even they could not see him.
Others could feel his presence and had been warned of his intervention in her life, time and again. Since Penrose was invisible, his ability to care for her tripled, compared to when he was seen by all.
“She has magical protection from Penrose,” the people of Gras whispered among themselves.
She was feared more than all women because of the unicorn’s legendary acts of bravery to defend her. One time, Penrose’s mystical shadow cast a dragon into the sea of forgetfulness to protect her. She even wore a beautiful, braided unicorn necklace around her neck carved from his ivory alicorn. If predators advanced against her, it would send a beam of blinding light into their eyes.
“Ah!” her enemies yelled. “What is that bright light in my eyes? I can’t see anything!”
Of course, she could never forget Penrose because he was always with her, even if no one else could see him.
“I have as it were the strength of a unicorn,” Sunshine sang, rising from bed each morning in her castle.
As queen of Gras, she sat on an ivory throne made of Penrose’s magical alicorn, reigning until age one hundred twenty. As time went by, the beasts of the forest never again attacked anyone of noble heart, for they had been eradicated from Earth with Penrose’s vengeance. In death, he accomplished more than he ever could in life, raising Sunshine like the golden queen that she was for her parents and her people.
Copyright 2020 Jennifer Waters
(Inspired by THE UNICORN TAPESTRIES, also known as THE HUNT OF THE UNICORN, a set of seven tapestries housed today at the Cloisters, in Fort Tryon Park, northern Manhattan, New York, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Numbers 23:22 KJV. Psalm 92:10 KJV.)