MarkedAugust had already past. The last of the rhododendron blooms had withered to gray and fallen to the shady creeks below, leaving only long glossy leaves open to the sky. In another month, those would be the only leaves left under the gray sky of November, and at last the narrow trails cloven hooves had cut through the underbrush would be clear of golden, dead leaves and would be waiting for the first snow of winter.But that time had not come yet. Autumn was only a taste on the late summer air, and young muscles were becoming hot and thick with the late season drive to spar and to win. Bucks that had been only fawns earlier that season were leaving half hearted wounds in the sides of trees with their budding displays of antlers. In another few weeks, those tiny scrapes would be marred by the deep scarring of the elder bucks, those that carried the weight of years in a branching crown on their thick necks. Late summer was the time for the young bucks to pretend.Running Cedar was such a
The Trouble with UnicornsMadeline stared down at the crumpled body. "That, she said at last, is not a unicorn. I have seen a unicorn.The old man said, No, you saw vestiges of unicorns. You saw the images they have given to humanity. This is a unicorn, little girl. Nothing that knows itself can remain beautiful for long.The old man folded into a kneel and lifted the blunt head with its gnarled horn and cradled it as he might a dead childwith gentleness and horror. The unicorns have used the images of beauty and light, wisdom and immortality, even strength and ferocity to pierce the hearts of creatures who desire such things. That is us, little girl. With our belief, the unicorns have a hold on usespecially our children, and that part of us that is always a child. They used it to create their world, and they use it to survive."What killed him? Madeline asked, squatting but keeping her hands on her knees. Did we stop believing?