For Holly’s twelfth birthday, her mother had taken her to the unicorn pen. Her mother went into the butcher shop to get Holly a delicacy. Bored with adult talk, Holly goes to look at the unicorn on display in a glass case outside the shop. For years, she’d been begging her parents for a pet unicorn, a unicorn who “would be her bestest friend and confidante. She would braid flowers through her unicorn’s silky mane, ride on its back, and they would play games together in the garden all day.”
This is a statement primarily on vegetarianism, but also, at a more profound level, I think it’s a portrayal of selfishness. Holly is not concerned about the welfare of the unicorn. She thinks of the animal’s beauty and of playing with the animal, but not whether it would derive any benefit from her or her actions. The purpose of the animal in her thought—as far as her thoughts go—is to serve her every whim. It has no existence outside of that.
In a small child, this thinking comes naturally. But by Holly’s age, it should be gone except in flashes. The scary thing is that the adults encourage this selfishness in Holly. Indulgence would be annoying, but this sense of entitlement is chilling.
I can’t say this was among my favorite stories, nor that it was particularly profound. Nevertheless, it did capture a glimpse of a little girl’s delight in animals.
According to the blurb, author Avra Margariti s a Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Daily Science Fiction, The Forge Literary, The Arcanist, and other venues. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Magical Delicacies for Birthday Girls”
Author: Avra Margariti
First published: Theme of Absence, June 5, 2020