Emmaline waited until Da passed out in his chair, empty beer cans a jumble on his TV tray. She filled a bag with bread, jerky, and crackers, extra socks, a hooded sweatshirt, and a pair of mismatched gloves. Easing through the kitchen door, she stumbled passed Da’s truck and across the dark, rutted yard.
The stables were lit by a single pair of half-dead bulbs. All the stalls were empty except the last. Biting her lip, she crept forward, peering over the door at the horse-that-wasn’t. It had been wild when Da brought it home that afternoon, kicking and shrieking. Now it was still, watching. It looked even dirtier in the half light and shadows, white hide stained and matted. It was too thin, jagged scars criss-crossing its back and shoulders. Fresh singe marks on its side from Da’s baton stank of burned hair and meat.
Eyes dark, it tipped its head just slightly, nose edging over the door.
Emmaline lifted her hand slowly, and tentatively touched the puckered circular scar half-hidden beneath its ragged mane.
“They took it from you. They didn’t have no right. I’ll help you find it. If you take me with you. Away from here.”
Whoofing, the unicorn-that-wasn’t stepped forward, gently pushing his head into her chest. Burying her nose in his mane, Emmaline hugged him close, and lifted the latch.