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The unicorn that lived on the edge of town had been
missing for quite some time, since I was still a girl with
cotton skin and a stitched-on little mouth. I bump into
them at the corner store for the first time in years,
buying milk, like me. They had sold their house,
quit their job and gone seeing the world. They saw a
narwhal. Did I know people used to peddle narwhal
tusks, touting them as unicorn horns? Damn swindlers.
Narwhals are pretty cool, too. They don’t deserve that.
Where does the unicorn live now, then? Oh, just, here,
there. In the middle of the woods, mostly. What have I
been up to these years? I shrug. I got a job, but buying
a house? Pfft. Seeing the world—well, that’d be nice.
“I’m not a virgin anymore,” I say to them. They snort.
I don’t know how to take that. Only I remember petting
them when I was so much younger, when the autumn
leaves hadn’t fallen from the trees one too many times
for me to notice anymore. The unicorn’s gentleness then.
But they still nudge my head with their nose now,
let me stroke their fur. At my touch, their horn glows
a universe of colours, like the years poured back
from one cracked jar into a perfect basin, like this
autumn right here was the crispiest, most golden
autumn that had ever been. —You’re still bisexual, aren’t you?
Oh. Is that what makes me worthy of a unicorn’s love?
“I’m still bisexual… I think.” I glance skyward, waiting
for them to simply eviscerate me. What kind of fool has sex
with a man, lets him crawl into her bed night after
night, the same man, week into week into year, and still
doesn’t know if she likes men? People of other genders,
yes, I know without even kissing their ghosts in my dreams
that I’m attracted to them. Men, though. Who knows?
Who knows, even when his mouth is on the skin
beneath my bottommost rib, even when my hand won’t let
go of his hair. But the unicorn doesn’t run me through.
They just laugh, their horn projecting the whole night sky
of constellations onto my dark shirt, a swirl of stardust in pink,
in purple, in blue, sweeping across my chest, expanding.



Cynthia So was born in Hong Kong and lives in London. Their work can be found in Uncanny, GlitterShip, Cast of Wonders, and elsewhere. They are also one of the new voices in Proud, an anthology of LGBTQ+ YA stories, poems, and art by LGBTQ+ creators, published by Stripes in March 2019. They can be found on Twitter @cynaesthete.
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22 Feb 2021

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Strange Horizons is now accepting fiction submissions for the Palestinian Special issue! The issue, edited by Rasha Abdulhadi and Basma Ghalayini will be published at the end of March 2021. We are open for submissions from now until January 31, 2021. Don't wait till the end to send your work!
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