Once there was a girl who lived alone in a cottage by the sea. She was not remarkable except perhaps in her ability to recognize and love remarkable things that most were too busy to see. Thus it may not be that surprising that she saw the unicorn for what he really was. 

She first came upon him standing shin deep in the surf.  A black haired man, his mane flowed out in the breeze like no human’s. His face was in shadow as the sun set behind the horizon but she knew he had seen her. The man had not expected anyone to be near. She nodded her apology, for it felt like she had interrupted a private moment.  Quietly she turned back into the forest.

The girl had often walked the shore in the evening and then sat out in her garden to admire the mysteries that were the second life of nature after the night descended. She would watch from the vantage of her cliff above the sea and after that evening encounter on the shore, she began to catch glimpses of the unicorn’s silhouette against the stars.

His pelt was darker than a moonless night and his mane seemed to swallow all light. His was an intriguing absence against the scenery. She didn’t know that she only saw him because he wanted her to. That day she had recognized his difference yet admired him from afar and caused no sense of threat, so he became curious and then began to seek her admiration and attention. 

One night after many moons of watching her, ever coming closer, he appeared at the edge of her garden. She stayed very still, afraid to move and wake from the vision. Anyone who has ever seen a rare bird would know her feeling but multiplied. Finally, the stars’ light flashed on his hooves and ebony horn as he dashed away and she began to breathe again. 

He continued to return to her garden under the cover of dark. She began to sing gently to him and sometimes converse. He did not answer in a voice she could hear but she knew he was listening.  She waited for him every night, always half expecting him to never come back, all the while wondering what the magical beast saw in returning. 

And then one night he arrived as she had first seen him, a man.

He did not look entirely youthful, as though the spring of his eternal life was thrown into deep summer by merely being in this form.

He sat on her favorite bench overlooking the sea but he faced into the garden and fixed her in his gaze- his eyes were depthless and held millenia. Hesitantly she joined him. 

His breath was that of a being who had never tasted but of clover and had never kissed a mortal. Their lips hovered inches apart but neither closed the distance. She felt desperate to be close to him but also that it was something forbidden.

For the first time the unicorn not only saw the beauty of the bloom that lasts a day and fades, but that of the knowledge that one might only see the cycle of the blooms so many times. He had lived thousands of years, a bloom faded but there was always another and another just as the seasons always came and he would always see them, unnumbered and uncounted. But to think there could be a limit, how precious it suddenly became.  And thus he began to desire to be mortal. He had never imagined a state of finite existence, he had never desired anything, but now he could not unknow these things.

The girl begged him not to go. As he was enamored by her fragile temporal existence, she was in love with his immortality. His difference was his beauty and she would not ever want him to change because he had met her. Finally knowing she could not stop him from his quest, she prepared to travel. If it had to be so, then she was ready to see the world by his side. The new sights and sounds and people- they would share each other's' eyes

But he forbade her to follow. He did not want to disturb her own path. He wanted her to continue on in her garden by the sea. But would he come back? As he left, she knew these would be the unmatched moments of her life. But she had to go on. She would not give up on living a remarkable life. She would do and see what she could of the world on her own.

She thought and dreamed of the unicorn often. Unable to shake his presence in her heart, unable to stop comparing everything that came after to the feeling of being chosen by one such as him, even if only for a brief while. But that spurred her on to see more, read more, do more...

And one day he returned, a road weary older man. But he had left her behind, and they had not grown new experiences together, or seen beautiful things, or continued to learn about one another… and so there was nothing remarkable left in him for her because he was a stranger and just a man. He could not compete with the memory of himself in her mind. 

It was too sad to see him thus. She had to turn away.