The Unicorn (Story by Risa Peris)

I lost my legs in Iraq. I was the first batch of Marines in and my unit got caught in intense bombing. I remember watching as my legs, with shredded camouflage and blasting blood flying into the air and then landing in opposite directions. I didn’t scream at first. I was mesmerized. For some reason, I didn’t think it was my legs. Amidst the dust, smoke, blood, and flesh it looked like some sort of strange abstract painting. And then the pain came. That’s when I screamed. I realized those were my legs. I lifted my head off the dirt and saw two stumps. And then the panic came.

“Get my legs,” I yelled. “Get my legs.” I had a deep urge to hug my legs.

But that was a while ago. I have prosthetics now and a psychiatrist for PTSD, depression, and God knows what else. Veterans benefits are terrible. It took too long to get my legs and too long to see a psychiatrist. I attempted suicide twice before I got any help.

The psychiatrist is nice. Asian lady. Not too old. Not too young. She takes her time. Doesn’t hustle me out the door.

She looked at me one time and asked if I thought about dating.

“You?” I asked. That made her roar with laughter. Her mouth opened so wide I could see her dental fillings.

“Other women.” She was still chuckling.

“I have no legs.”

“And?” she smiled.

I went to a bar and ordered drank two beers when a tiny Asian girl popped in. She was wearing a plaid skirt. Her black hair was in a ponytail. She looked at me, carefully, then sat next to me.

“Can I get you a drink?” I was mesmerized by her face. It was rather plain but open. Honest.

“Vodka and tonic.”

We got to talking and an hour in I told her my legs got blown off.

“What about your third leg?”

I blushed. “That’s still in working order.”

“Come to my place. I live a block away.”

I followed her as I tried not to limp. Her living room was all pink, including the paint on the walls. We went to her bedroom and cluttered with all kinds of stuffed animals.

“Don’t touch the stuffed animals,” she said. She helped get my pants off and stared at the prosthetics.

“Okay,” she said. And then we stretched out on the bed and she eventually rode me. It probably went on for about ten minutes. She got really sweaty. I extended my right arm and touched a stuffed rainbow unicorn. The Asian girl (she still never told me her name) got hopping mad and picked up the unicorn and ripped, with phenomenal strength, two of its legs off.

“Here.” She threw it at me. “It’s yours now.”

I got out of there quick though I struggled to get my pants on. I dropped the unicorn and she stuck it in my boxers.

That was a while ago. I still have the unicorn. Sometimes, I stare at it baffled. At least it still has two other legs.


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