There’s a unicorn tucked away in an old tin shed at the end of an alley. For Jessie and her brother it’s the little bit of magic in their troubled existence. Until they are not the only ones who’ve seen it… SY
It doesn’t really matter when I found the unicorn. I think it had always been in my life, waiting for me to notice it there: a tale waiting to be told, a mystery to be unravelled. Maybe it was hiding in the shadows, or perhaps I wasn’t able to see the animal until I reached a certain age, a specific point in my existence.
All I do know is that I found it there, near the old tin shed in the back lane, a few weeks after my twelfth birthday.
The following day I took my sister, Jessie, to see the unicorn. It was just after school. Not quite dark yet. She was excited when I told her that I had a secret, and that she couldn’t tell anybody what I was about to show her. In truth, I still wasn’t sure if I’d really seen it myself.
“Can Dolly come?” she asked, dragging her battered old Cabbage Patch doll along by one arm. I hated that doll—it was ugly.
“Sure,” I said. “I don’t see why not.”
We went out of the house, through the gap in the fence at the bottom of the back garden, and across the little area of waste ground to the cobbled alley. It was late in the year. The sun dipped behind the roofs of the old terraced houses at the edge of town and there was a chill in the air. Jessie held onto my hand. Her grip was surprisingly strong for one so young.
Fa’izah dreams of the mother who disappeared out of her life into the forest long ago. Her father has never stopped searching. Seeking her mother out in her dreams, Fa’izah encounters more than she bargains for. SY
Each time Father went to West Africa—Igerbian—he searched for my missing Mother. A remote land surrounded by rivers, valleys and rainbows, where fog blanketed the water. Don’t look for it on a map; you won’t find it. Father brought many things back, but never her. He found her brown sandals, a red scarf and an untouched white sundress hanging on a coco tree in the forest. The last time Father went, he never returned.
I went to Igerbian without ever leaving my bedroom in New York. I made a pot of soup—just like Mother taught me when I was a young girl—and placed it beside my bed. Inside the pot was a liana; a long woody vine that is hollow and native Nigeria. I brought it at the African market on 116 Street. The stems were dry, unhealthy, but I had nothing else to use.
Liana grows in the tropical forest and ensnares other plants. It is too complicated for the white man to understand, so they ignore it. The vine grows unpredictably and is known throughout West Africa for its wondrous abilities.
I chopped and boiled it in a huge black pot; it must be in a black pot. Before going to sleep, I wrapped my mother’s red scarf around my head and dressed myself in her white sundress—the one Father found. I placed the black pot beside my bed. My spirit flew upwards, through thick gray smoke, before landing safely in Igerbian—a place I have not visited in years.