In our pediatric office, we have different themes for the rooms. An airplane room, a jungle room...this is the castle room. Wallpaper displaying ivy covered turrets and wooden drawbridges cover three walls. This is the fourth wall...and the chair where she sat.
On my schedule, it said that this teenager was coming in to see me about a sore throat. I'd known her for years and we caught up a bit while I examined her. Right in the middle of our discussion about sinus drainage, she informed me that she'd been molested.
By a family member.
I think I stopped breathing. My thoughts scattered for a moment. I told her that I'd call the police... that I'd call the Children's Advocacy Center. But all of that had already been done. And then she started telling me what happened.
I'll confess, I didn't want to hear. Don't get me wrong, I would do anything to make sure she was ok. But stories like hers spread like poison in your brain...you can't unhear those molestation accounts. She needed to talk...so I listened.
She described how he pushed her down onto a table. Her gaze shifted to her feet as she spoke, now reluctant to meet my eyes. I looked up, didn't want her to feel any more awkward than she already felt. Saw the unicorn above her chair.
Unicorns were a symbol of virginity in medieval times. It was thought that the only way to capture a unicorn was to have a virgin sit quietly in the forest. The unicorn would come out of hiding and lay its head gently upon her lap.
He held her hands so she couldn't push him away.
I looked at that unicorn and it was as if the unicorn was looking back at me. Right there, in a field of flowers, I imagined it faltering, staggering as she spoke of what happened next.
He pulled down his zipper.
I was silent. My chest felt so tight that I found it hard to breath. The unicorn crashed down as she spoke, disappeared, leaving a empty space in the green field.
My throat hurt from the urge to scream at the injustice, the pain.
Unicorns also had a reputation for their ferocity in medieval times. It was not uncommon to find them on shields and banners, along with lions and dragons. That horn, after all, was not just decoration.
In my imagination, a second unicorn took the place of the first. Where the first unicorn was white, this unicorn was dark, with slashes on his hide from previous battles. It was massive like a Clydesdale and it was furious. Steam billowed and rolled from his nostrils. He drew up on his hind legs, opened his mouth and let out an unearthly roar of rage. His tail whipped, slapped his thigh, and dust flew up when he slammed back into the earth.
His eyes bore into mine and I saw what I wanted to see...a promise of vengeance. A promise to inflict punishment for what had happened to her.
I wrote a book about unicorns. Probably different than the unicorns you're used to seeing. No rainbow colored horns over snowy hides. They're darker and their sole purpose...is to keep her safe.