I woke up in the hospital. There was white all around me, the curtain was drawn around my bed, and there were voices in the distance. Uncle’s voice.
I looked myself over. A tube in my arm, bruises all over my arms and ugly hospital gown on me, but I was okay. I felt all my limbs.
“You’re alright,” a voice said from beside me.
I startled, and stared at the man who had seemingly appeared. Or had I not noticed him?
It was him. The white man in the green cloak and medieval clothing. He smiled thinly at me. “You’re going to be fine,” he said with a slight nod of the head.
I wanted to scream, but I was frozen. The man sighed like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Hands clasped before himself, he leaned forward.
“You ate the card,” he said calmly.
I stared, trembles beginning to run all over my body.
“You’ve brought the worlds into a collision,” he said in that same calm tone.
I took in a breath to scream- but wasn’t able to put it out. I just choked on the air and stared, wide-eyed.
He rose to his feet. “Going home is going to be hard. But,” he drew my unicorn from under his arm and held it out to me. “I think we can work through that.”
I screamed. He winced, taking the unicorn back as he covered one ear with a hand.
The curtain was swept back. Nurses appeared, uncle and Kayla in tow. But as I gasped and they asked whatever the matter was, the green man had disappeared. He was gone – unicorn with him.
I wanted to go to my home. Kayla said I could, but Uncle didn’t think it would be wise. “I need to go get the school papers,” Kayla fibbed, as if she couldn’t get them any other way. “Is there anything you want from the house?”
I shook my head, crossing my arms over my chest. I wanted my unicorn. I wanted- too much. I shouldn’t be greedy.
Now I was in Uncle’s living room. The cousins were at football and uncle had taken a break from me to go with them, leaving Wanda and Kayla with me. Kayla seemed to think getting out would do me good, Wanda wanted me to eat supper in my pajamas and just sleep.
Kayla was saying something, but I turned on the TV, turning the volume up. Kayla pressed her lips together and heaved a sigh. It reminded me of the one the man in green had done. Where was he? How come no one saw him?
“Where’s my unicorn?” I asked, hoping there was some logical answer.
“I don’t know,” said Kayla softly as she rose to her feet. “Listen -”
I looked pointedly at the TV. No listen.
Kayla turned to Wanda. “Need anything? Want anything?” she asked.
“No,” Wanda said with a thankful smile, shaking her head.
So Kayla left. After a few moments of TV drama, Wanda rose and took the remote control from me. She dialed the volume down. “Hun,” she said. “We’re all just trying to help.”
I took up a pillow and hugged it to my chest. My eyes stayed glued to the screen. On it, housewives were debating over something. They were about to fight.
Wanda cleared her throat. “We’ve spoken to the police.”
“We told them you were attacked and they think -” she paused. I stared at the TV. “If there’s anything you can tell them,” she said “It might help.”
I sniffled, but the housewives were throwing hands up and having tantrums.
“The case is – it seems,” she paused and looked at me with that focused adult look. “Your father may have gotten into gang troubles.”
The words crashed over my world. Gang troubles? No. Not father. It was the board game. How come no one would believe it? Because I hadn’t told me. But-
I looked at her. She came into sharp focus- and I saw something shift behind her.
The man was there. Green, brown, and a blonde mass on top.
I froze. My skin turned to a fine sheen of ice.
“Listen,” Wanda was leaning towards me. “If there’s anything you remember that you thought was strange, anything identifying about the men who attacked you-”
Behind her, the man drew out my unicorn and set it on a bookshelf. With a nod at me, he turned and walked away into the kitchen.
Wanda came sharply into focus again. She was saying something, but I couldn’t understand what.
I sat back, curling into myself. The world was shaking around me.
I wrapped my arms around myself, and the world sunk into black.
I came to with the smell of coffee and donuts. Kayla was mopping my forehead with a cold cloth that was too wet, droplets running over my head. Wanda was sitting on a couch, coffee in hand and looking dejected.
“Hey!” Kayla said in a too-cheerful tone as I sat up. There was an open box of donuts on the coffee table.
I looked around. Where was the man? And there he was, sitting in the stairwell, arms crossed and watching me. Again, he just nodded.
It sunk into me like a crashing wave, what had earlier shaken my world. He wasn’t real. He didn’t exist. I had been wrong.
I stared at him, determined to will him away. If he was a figment of my imagination, I could destroy him.
Kayla was saying something about my school exams and having exemptions. I would have to see a doctor. I stared at the man. He watched me back with a frown.
“Did you hear me?” Kayla put a hand on my shoulder.
“No,” I said harshly. I was distracted by the man. By the unicorn that was now on the shelf. By everything in this horrid world.
“Okay, well, you rest,” Kayla said with a teary smile. “You just -”
I got up and marched out of the house. Barefoot I went out the front of the house and marched into the grassy center. I sat down on the bench, head hanging down. Then I told myself not to slouch and straightened. The man in green was walking out of the house towards me.
“Go away,” I hissed between my teeth. “Go, away.”
He arrived to just before me. Much like my cousins had, he crouched down before me. Unlike them, he didn’t just crouch, instead sinking down onto one knee like a knight in mythology.
“I’ll follow you,” he said, in that way that said he meant every of those three words.
I stared at him. “Go, away.” Because he didn’t exist. He was my mind reacting to trauma. He was just me freaking out. “Get- gone.”
Frowning, he rose to his feet.
From way back at the house, Wanda came out in her shoes. I shifted my focus back to the man – but he was gone.
“You can’t stay out here,” said Wanda as she reached me, arms crossed against the cold.
I hung my head and stared at our feet.