Unicorn Whispers

September seemed such a busy month to Heidi. School started with its usual hustle and bustle and pencil sharpening. Her birthday came as the first hint of autumn touched the trees. Then the plans began for Halloween. Halloween was always special to Heidi because she could pretend to be anything and Heidi loved playing pretend.

This morning was no different as she cut across the meadow. Heidi was pretending she was a brave hunter on African safari. She searched the grass for signs of animals. You never knew where a lion or an elephant might hide.

In the shallow place, near the pond, a hint of fog hung next to the ground. The misty layer gave the area a different look from the rest of the meadow. Here, in this little circle the fog curled around Heidi's legs as she walked. The sounds of meadow insects buzzed in her ears. The sounds began to sound like distant voices whispering secrets.

Heidi wanted to be in on the secrets. She strained hard to hear the sounds. Suddenly she did hear sounds. Voices! Tiny and raspy, but definitely voices. Heidi turned off the path just past the blackberry brambles to follow the voices across the foggy meadow and nearer to the pond. The fog began to thicken. It crawled up Heidi's legs and almost to her waist but the sounds lead her onward.

Finally, almost at the edge of the pond, Heidi began to make out some of the words. Each word had to be carefully picked out of the background of insects and birds coming awake in the morning sunlight.

"Look, diamonds, prince, treasure" were all the words Heidi could make out. When suddenly the sun broke into the meadow. It's long rays reached the tall meadow grass and suddenly Heidi was thinking of diamonds too. The dew on each blade of grass had begun to sparkle like diamonds. The spider webs were strung in jewels.

A noise near Heidi's feet made her look down into the fog. At first she thought the faint outline was of a dog. When she looked again she saw a perfectly formed but very tiny horse. His coat shone the purest of white, and his mane and tail sparkled like the dew. A few tiny wild rose buds had become tangled in his mane. He stamped the ground, lifted his perfect head to the sun. Heidi saw a long glittering horn in the center of that head. Heidi was watching a Unicorn.

Heidi stood very still. The Unicorn might vanish if frightened. She tried very hard to remember everything she had read about Unicorns. She wondered what kind of Unicorn this was. It was tiny, so that ruled out many kinds. It wasn't a garden unicorn, nor a forest unicorn, and it didn't seem like the blue eyed kind in the book mother had read to her. Heidi decided this must be a fairy unicorn.

With a toss of its mane the tiny creature turned and faded into the fog. Heidi stumbled and realized that she was right at the edge of the pond. The fog had tricked her making the distance to the pond seem further. The unicorn had fled toward the pond.

Since it was gone, Heidi headed back for school. She arrived just as the first bell of the day was ringing. Down the hall she ran and got into the second grade class just as the last echoes of the bell died away. Her teacher was a different lady from last year. For a moment Heidi felt a little frightened. Heidi saw her friends and the fear went away. Her day was filled with new books, new faces, new rules and Heidi was tired by time to go home arrived.

The next morning was another partly foggy morning. Heidi started out a little earlier. She wanted to see if she could see the unicorn again. As she reached the shallow area of the meadow she listened for the sounds.

"Diamonds, treasure, quickly!" was all she heard before she once again saw the tiny unicorn at her feet. This day she tried to keep an eye on the little form as the mists curled around them. Just as the sun broke she noticed that the unicorn didn't flee into the pond as she thought. It went into a little hole between two rocks just at the waters edge. Looking back into the hole Heidi could see something shining.

Try as she might, Heidi could not tell what the shiny thing was. So she lay down on the damp grass and reached deep into the hole. She felt the sharp edge of the shiny thing. It felt almost like broken glass. Heidi wanted to know what it was. She pulled hard at the thing.

Heidi pulled her arm from the hole and looked at her hand. The thing was a single crystal of rock. It sparkled in the sunlight like the unicorn's horn had. Heidi tucked the crystal into her pocket and hurried off to school. During her busy day she forgot all about the shiny piece of rock.

That night Heidi hung her sweater on the back of her chair and went to bed. In the middle of the night something woke her up. She heard a tiny raspy voice in the darkness.

"The prince's diamond! Hurry! We have to find the prince's diamond before the sunrise."

"The girl took it. I saw her put it in her pocket."

"Yes, but we have to get it back to the keep."

"If the Prince's diamond isn't in the keep the unicorn won't bring the meadow jewels."

"He means if the diamond is gone we will not have any more sunny days," the raspy little voices said.

Heidi squinted in the darkness. Finally she saw four squat little men. Each carried a small shovel or pick. Each one's little clothes was dirty and ragged. They were building a tall stack of books. They were trying to reach her sweater.

Heidi watched the little men for a while. No matter what they tried to do they couldn't get the sparkling rock. Soon the first hint of morning colored the sky outside. The little men vanished without a hint of where they went.

Heidi hurried and got ready for school. She tried to tell mother about the little men, but mother was too busy. So Heidi headed for the door.

"Don't forget your raincoat. It's a cloudy, rainy day," Mother called after her.

Heidi grabbed her rain coat and struggled into it. The day was a rainy cloudy day alright. At the shallow place there were only puddles and soft ground. There was no unicorn that morning, only rain. At school recess was held inside.

By the afternoon the puddles near the pond had reached so deep that Heidi had to go the long way home rather than cut through the meadow. She arrived home feeling grouchy and tired. Her wet hair hung in strings across her face and her jacket was a sodden mess. Rain was not Heidi's favorite weather, but this was really rainy.

After dinner, Heidi did her homework. It was mostly math and only added to her frustrations. She had never found math fun, and tonight was worse than usual. Her mind drifted every few seconds. At this rate she'd be working on this set of problems all night. Mother sat down and offered some help for a while but still Heidi couldn't concentrate.

Heidi's real problem was the memory of the tiny men in her bedroom the night before. She was beginning to wonder if all this rain was because she had taken the shiny crystal from its place. Silly as that sounded, she was thinking of it more and more often.

Later, when she was in her bedroom getting ready for bed, Heidi made a decision. She took the crystal from her coat pocket and laid it very carefully on the floor inside her window. Crawling into bed she watched the window for the little men. Suddenly a noise made her look at the floor. There they were! A quick grab and the crystal was tight in her hand.

"Who are you? And why do you want my crystal?" she whispered to the little men.

"She can see us!" one of the men whispered to his companion.

"Of course! You're right there in front of me. You have on a yellow jacket and brown pants and have a pick in your hands. You have dirt and stains all over you!" replied Heidi in a surprised voice.

"She has the sight! Oh, now what are we going to do. We have to get the crystal back and we can't sneak it away if she can watch us!" grumbled the shorter of the men.

"You might try asking. And you might tell me why you need it so." Heidi said in a firm voice.

The little men just looked at each other for a few seconds, then the largest one stepped forward to speak.

"We aren't used to being seen. Only special people with open minds and hearts can see us. We are part of the fairy folk. We are keepers of the Prince's keep and the crystal you have is the guardian of the keep. Once an old wizard blessed the crystal with the gift of the sunshine unicorn. When the dawn hits the meadow, and the field is filled with sparkles, the sunshine unicorn chases the glittering drops. He brings sunshine into the meadow and chases away the fog. Then he follows the sparkle of the Prince's diamond, the crystal you took from the keep, and brings sunshine and light into the fairy world beneath the meadow. Since you have taken the crystal, the Unicorn doesn't come, the sunshine doesn't come to us or to you. Can we have the crystal back? Please? Our home is nearly flooded from the rain and there's no sign of it letting up."

"Well," responded Heidi, "You may have the crystal back, but I want to get something in return. I want to meet the Prince and the Unicorn."

The fairy men, who were miners by trade, talked among themselves and then turned to Heidi.

"To meet the Prince and the Unicorn, you will have to put the crystal back in the keep and wait for the first rays of dawn in the meadow." said the smaller of the fairy miners.

With that they quickly vanished from the room. Heidi looked out the window. Huge puddles reached across the meadow and toward the pond, but the top of the rocks where she had found the crystal still stood above the water. Carefully she dressed in her school clothes from the day and climbed out her bedroom window. She walked through the puddles feeling the soft mud beneath her boots. She felt a bit silly. It was still raining and only a few hours before dawn.

When Heidi reached the keep, she realized that to replace the crystal she would have to put her head under the water and reach back between the stones. Heidi hated getting water in her face, but had begun to believe the rain would not stop until the crystal was in place. So with a deep breath she dunked beneath the water and felt with her hands for the opening in the stones. It took a couple of dunks before she found the opening and thrust the stone deep into the crevice. Then she climbed on top of the stones to wait.

The first cast of dawn was met with the rain beginning to slack, and a few rosy rays of sunshine lit the bottoms of the clouds. Heidi began to feel the chill morning air reaching into her as she sat there in her wet hair and clothes. She wanted to see the Unicorn again, and wanted to meet the Prince of the fairies so she waited.

The ground fog crept from the center of the pond, and the base of the stones was soon wrapped in eddies of white mist. Heidi found herself looking into the mist, straining to see the Unicorn. The sun came out and the field was again covered in sparkles as if diamonds were on every blade of grass that wasn't still under a puddle. Heidi would soon have to go and sneak into the house so she could get ready for school, but the Unicorn hadn't shown yet, and the Prince had not come to meet her. She sat a while longer.

Suddenly, at the base of the rock she heard noises. She looked down into the mists and there, climbing slowly up the rock was the Unicorn, and on his back was the most handsome man. He was tiny like the miners, but formed perfectly. Tiny hands wrapped in the Unicorn's mane. Tiny legs gripping the Unicorn's sides. He wore a bright green shirt, black pants, and boots, and a deep red jacket. What Heidi noticed most however was the pin that held his jacket closed. It was a Unicorn's head against a brilliant sunrise.

"You have your wish. I am here." the Prince said in cultured tones with a hint of an English accent. "I cannot remain long. No one but you can see me, and you must never speak of this for no one will believe you. However, because you brought back the stone and returned sunshine to our world again, we will always be your friends. Any time you choose to join us as we dance in the mist all you will have to do is close your eyes and think of me."

The Prince reached out and took Heidi's little finger between his hands, lowered his head and kissed the side of her finger. Then turned the Unicorn sharply and rushed headlong down the stone. With a sharp turn at the base of the rock, Unicorn and Prince disappeared into the crevice of the rock, the opening to the fairy keep.

Heidi rushed back to the house and sneaked into her bedroom window. Her clock told her it was almost time from Mother to wake up and begin her day. She quickly undressed threw on her pajamas and crawled into bed. Pretending to be asleep Heidi thought of the Prince and was immediately dancing in the mist with the fairies.

"Heidi" mother called "Wake up, the sun is shining and it will soon be school time."

Heidi opened her eyes and for moments the meeting with the Fairy Prince was all a dream. Such a real dream! Everything made it seem like a dream. Her school clothes were barely damp from the day before. Her boots had still wet mud on them, but then she had walked home in the rain the day before. Was it a dream, or had she really met the Prince of the fairies and had she seen the Unicorn again?

For sometime Heidi was confused. Then she noticed that the crystal was gone from where she had placed it. So, it wasn't a dream. But then it wasn't a story anyone would believe either. So she threw on dry school clothes, rushed into the kitchen for breakfast. Mother didn't even mention the damp look to Heidi's hair, nor the big grin on Heidi's face.

So remember, if you want to dance with fairies, close your eyes and think of the Prince. Maybe you too will dance through the mist in an enchanted meadow.

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