The Ugly Unicorn
Once upon a time, high up near the top of a tall mountain, there lived a herd of mountain goats. Most of the herd, the nannies and the billies, liked to hop from cliff to boulder to peak across wide crevasses and over sharp rocks and deep streams. Even the tiniest kids seemed fearless in the face of danger.
However, one of the kids was not as fearless as the rest of the herd. Tim, one of the smaller kids in the herd, was terrified of the dizzying heights and perilous jumps. He was so scared, that after he leaped, he’d shut his eyes tightly until he felt solid ground beneath his hooves again.
This is why he didn’t see the mysterious portal open up in the air in front of him mid-jump. And so he was completely taken by surprise when he landed on soft meadow grass instead of solid stone. He opened his eyes and looked around in shock.
There were no mountains anywhere. Instead, all he could see was grass and flowers and rainbows. He was far away from home and had no idea how he came here. Tim did what any frightened kid does when lost. He began to bleat, loudly and sadly for his herd.
But, no nannies or billies came running at his cries of distress. Instead, a herd of tall, graceful animals came thundering towards him. Tim stopped crying and tried to hide in the green grass. However, his snow white coat, which hid him well at the tops of mountains, made him easy to spot in a meadow.
The herd of large, scary creatures circled around him. Tim whimpered. The creatures had long legs and mostly short fur and strange eyes and only one horn. They weren’t his herd at all.
And then, one of them made a soft sound and leaned closer. Tim froze. The creature nuzzled against him and crooned a friendly sort of lullaby. Tim relaxed. Maybe they weren’t going to eat him after all.
Years passed, and Tim began to believe that he’d always been a unicorn. He had vague memories of someplace else far away, but it all seemed more like a dream than anything else. Perhaps it was a story he told himself when he was younger to explain the differences between him and his herd.
Tim was indeed very different from his herd. He grew his mane all over, so that he was definitely the hairiest unicorn of the herd. He had short legs, oddly-shaped hooves, and eyes that all the other foals said were creepy. And most noticeable of all, he had two horns rather than one.
One would think that meant that he had twice as much magic as any other unicorn. If life was fair, then that would be true. Unfortunately, Tim couldn’t do any magic at all. He couldn’t summon a rainbow bridge or make flowers bloom or even heal the tiniest scratch. It was terribly unfair.
His mother, who liked to talk about finding him in a meadow looking as cute as can be, told him that he’d grow into his looks. “It’s just an awkward phase, you’ll see.”
“Do you think if I knocked off one of the horns, I’d be able to do magic?”
His mother groomed his coat with a flick of her horn. “Darling, don’t be silly. You’d just look off-balanced. If you need to do magic, the magic will come. Until then, don’t worry. You’ll just make yourself sick.”
“Could you call me Argyros instead of Tim? Tim isn’t a real unicorn name.”
“Tim is a lovely name. Why change it? Did you know that you named yourself? When I found you in that lovely meadow, the first thing you said was…”
“Yes, yes, I know. I said, ‘Tim scared.’”
“That’s right. And I said, ‘Who is Tim?’”
“And I said, ‘me Tim.’” Tim scuffed his strange hoofs in the dirt. “Mom, I just don’t fit in. I look different from everybody else in the herd. I’m an ugly unicorn.”
His mom neighed and conjured a storm of flowers that wove themselves into his furry coat. “You are beautiful on the inside and lovely on the outside too, dear. If anyone is whickering at you, they’re probably just jealous.”
But Tim was not convinced of his loveliness. Not when he could see how different he looked. And then one day, when he was hopping around the meadow, a portal opened up. Through it, he could see a tall, snowy mountain. A herd of creatures just like him were leaping across the rocks.
Tim blinked. There were creatures just like him? And look at how brave they were! How could they leap so casually from rock to rock at such great heights?
Obviously, two-horned unicorns were brave and strong instead of magical. Tim leaned in closer. There was a rock just on the other side of the portal. He could leap through now and join the other unicorns that looked more like him.
It would mean leaving his mother behind, of course. And learning to leap around like that would be pretty difficult. He’d probably not fit in with the others until he figured it out.
Tim leaned even further into the portal and looked down. Oh my. That did not look at all safe. What could he do? He didn’t want to be alone, and he didn’t want to live on a tall scary mountain.
He couldn’t figure out what to do. He sat down on his rump and began to bleat loudly, just as he had once so long ago. As he cried, two herds rushed towards him. Soon, he was surrounded. One-horned unicorns on one side of the meadow, and two-horned unicorns on the other side.
The portal vanished. The new herd looked around the meadow in confusion. “What is going on?” someone asked. After a lot of everyone neighing and maaing at once, everyone turned and looked at Tim.
“There was a portal, and I couldn’t decide whether or not to go through it, and now it’s gone. I’m sorry the two-horned unicorns are stuck here now. But there’s lots of grass here to eat,” Tim said, feeling very nervous. “Maybe all of the unicorns could live together.”
The two herds looked at each other for a few minutes.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Tim’s mom said. “I’d be happy to give you a tour of the meadows. I’m so glad you came. Our world needs more two-horned unicorns. I think they’re marvelous.”
And the new herd settled in well, after the one-horned unicorns conjured some nice boulders to help them feel at home. With so many other two-horned unicorns around, Tim didn’t feel ugly any more. He finally fit in. As long as he didn’t try jumping on the boulders, of course.
And one day, when the portal appeared again, no one wanted to go back through it. They ignored it and continued jumping around the meadow, chasing butterflies and eating flowers with their friends.