Once upon a time, there was a unicorn named Solo. She lived in a field next to a forest, a place where no one had ever been. It was pretty there, and she had everything she needed, but Solo was bothered by something.
You see, Solo did not know she was a unicorn. In fact, she didn't know just what she was, because she had never met any other creature quite like herself.
"I must try to go and find out what I am!" she decided one day in Spring. She said goodbye to all the little creatures and birds who lived nearby and were her friends, and off she went, into the big world.
Solo traveled for a long while, never seeing any creature which looked like herself. Still, she was determined, and kept trying, though it got very lonely at times.
Then one day she heard a commotion and followed the noise. There, in a large patch of dust, she saw several very unusual creatures playing some sort of game, and so she cantered up to them. She was about to introduce herself, when she was bowled over by one of the creatures, who just kept going. When Solo had stopped seeing stars and gotten to her feet again, she saw that they were all running into each other and trampling things and it was all part of their game. Then she saw that these creatures each had a horn protruding from their faces, just as she did! Finally, one of the creatures paused to catch its breath, which came in great snorts.
"Pardon me," ventured Solo. "But could you please tell me what you are?"
The creature looked at her with his dim little eyes. In a deep bass voice, he said, 'I am a rhinoceros!"
"Am I a rhinoceros too?" asked Solo.
This was met by a rather horrible rough coughing from the rhinoceros, which Solo finally recognized as being laughter. "No!" boomed the rhino. "Just look at you! You would never last the afternoon playing our games! You are too soft. And you are so white! Don't you ever play crashball, or dive into a mud pit, or anything fun?"
"Um...no," squeaked Solo, blushing.
"Well then you are not one of us! Get out of our way so that we can play our games!"
So, with that, Solo resumed her lonely quest. Discouraged, she decided to stop and rest a while by a stream. As she took a drink, she saw her own reflection. "The rhinoceros is right, I am too white and my legs are too skinny. I am surely a very ugly creature."
Nonetheless, Solo pressed on. Many days passed, and she saw raccoons and robins, dairy cows and cats, but she knew she was not one of them, either. "I don't have black rings around my eyes, nor beautiful orange feathers. My horn is not like the cows' horns, and I cannot jump up onto the rail fence like the cats can. I still do not know who I am!"
Just when Solo was beginning to think that maybe her quest was in vain, she came to a pasture where there were at least a dozen graceful, beautiful creatures. Solo's heart sped up as she noticed that they all had legs like hers, and beautiful tails and manes as well! Solo excitedly joined them, and she spent all day playing with them. "This is wonderful!" thought Solo. "I must be home!"
When the sun began to go low in the sky, the horses--which is what she had learned they were called--all turned in the same direction and began to leave the pasture. Solo, happier than she had ever been, tried to follow, but one of the horses looked back at her and she spoke.
"We liked playing with you and you can be our friend, but you can't come back to the barn with us."
"Er...what is a barn?" asked Solo, never having heard that word before.
"Our barn is a pretty red building with warm stalls and fresh hay that our human provides for us. We sleep there!"
"Why can't I come, too?" asked Solo, her heart breaking.
"Because, silly.....you are not a horse!"
"I'm not?" asked Solo, astounded.
"Noooooooo! You really are a silly one. You have a horn in the middle of your head. We don't. That means you can't be one of us!"
Solo looked cross-eyed down the length of her horn and saw that it was true. Not wanting the mare to see her cry, she turned quickly around and galloped away into the deepest darkest part of the nearby forest.
Solo found the loneliest spot in the entire forest and said to herself, "I will live here, by myself. I don't belong anywhere. I must surely be a wretched, horrible creature."
"Why do you think that?" asked a voice from a tree branch. Solo looked up, amazed to see a pair of big yellow eyes staring down at her.
"Oh! You startled me! May I ask...who might you be?"
The figure moved out a bit into the moonlight. "Why, I am an owl!" he replied.
Seeing his feathers, Solo asked, "Can you fly?"
"I can," said the Owl.
"And with your big yellow eyes....do you see a lot of things?"
"I do," replied the owl, kindly.
"Well then, can you please help me, Sir Owl? I have been trying to find out what I am, but I can't seem to find anyone who is quite like me, and I have about given up."
"Never give up!" scolded the owl. Then he asked, "And did you find anyone who was even close to being like you?"
"Yes," answered Solo. "I found rhinos, but they said I wasn't one of them and couldn't play with them."
The owl made a face, not an easy thing for an owl, when you think about it. "Did you want to be a rhino? They have rather unfortunate skin and they attract flies. Did you really want to be one of them?"
"Well, I suppose not," admitted Solo. Then she thought about it some more and laughed. "No. Definitely not!"
"Well, nothing lost there, then!" chuckled the owl. "Did you find any others, besides the rhinos?"
"I did," said Solo, softly. "I found horses and felt sure that's what I was. We spent the whole day playing together and I loved them but they wouldn't let me go home with them." Thinking about it made Solo sad all over again.
"I see," said the owl. "Horses are fine and beautiful creatures, and do seem quite a lot like you. But they haven't got horns,"
"No," whispered Solo, hanging her head.
"Listen to me, little unicorn--"
Solo's head came up and she said, "What? What did you say that I am?"
"Oh, you're a unicorn, no doubt about it."
"Is that a bad thing to be, Wise Owl?"
"Not at all! But let me explain something to you. There are some things which there are many of. Some of them are beautiful, like the horses. The fact that there are lots of them, doesn't make them stop being beautiful, but they are simply not very hard to find. Other things that there are lots of, aren't so nice. Like flies. No one likes flies except the bullfrog, who eats them." The owl made another face, then continued.
"Then there are things which are rare, but we are glad they are rare. Things like getting the mumps. Nobody wants to get the mumps once, let alone twice. But then, little unicorn, there are other things which are both beautiful and rare, and when they are found, they are the most precious things of all. Things like four leaf clovers and red M&Ms, and, well, unicorns!"
Solo shook her head, and her white horn caught the moonlight. "I'm rare? And...beautiful, too?"
"Wise owl, is there anything else that is rare and beautiful?"
"There is," replied the owl. "Love. Love is rare and the most beautiful thing of all."
Solo hung her head back down. "I will never find that."
"What am I going to do with you, little unicorn? You have to believe you will find something or else you never will. Now here is what I suggest for you to do. Do you know the way out of the forest?"
"I do," said Solo, wondering what the owl was dreaming up.
"And do you know the little road that leads away from the forest?"
"Yes, I know that road," said Solo.
"Good. Follow that road until the end, where you will find a little ginger bread house. In that house lives a girl. All she ever says to me is, Owl, I wish I could see a real live unicorn! I think that if you go there, and stand outside her window in the morning light, she will give you apples and sugar cubes. And you never know, little unicorn...you may just find love there too."
"Oh thank you!" cried Solo. "You've been so much help! I'll never forget you!" With that, she turned her hooves towards the little road and the ginger bread house at the end of it. As she trotted eastward, she saw the sun coming up, and her trot turned to a prance. It was going to be a wonderful day ahead.