After walking with the man for some time, the creature broke his silence. “Never before has anyone’s patience outlasted my own. You are the first I’ve met that understands silence.”
The man laughed.
“What is it?” asked the creature.
“Nothing at all,” said the man, still chuckling. “My wife keeps me in good practice when it comes to patience and silence.”
The creature brightened. “I see!” said the creature. What was this feeling?
“Oh my,” said the man.
“What is it?” asked the creature, alarmed.
“I do believe you’re smiling, friend,” said the man. The creature realized it too.
“Oh my, I am!” he exclaimed.
They continued walking and spoke of a great deal of things. Well, the man spoke of a great deal of things, while the creature was quite content to listen, learning of all that the man learned as he discovered the world over the years.
“You are quite knowledgeable, sir. If anyone can give me a name, and help me remember my purpose, it’s you,” said the creature.
“Let’s hope so, friend,” said the man. He thought for a moment. “How about this,” he said. “The name I’ll give you, your true name, when I find it, can be a secret between the two of us. Hidden, and perfectly suited. Until then, and when I call you in front of the other creatures, may I use the name the others are familiar with?”
“Hidden?” asked the creature.
“Mm,” said the man. “You are creature of great rarity, one that I sense has great power. Not only great power, but great integrity. Often, one is present and not the other,” he said. “I fear that once you’ve recovered your calling, you may be often sought after and it will be difficult for us to meet again,” he reasoned. “So, while many will call you by a name, and your glory attached to that name, there is only one name that you will answer to. Your secret name will be your name, and when you feel lost, at the hearing of it you will also know who calls you.”
The creature bowed to the man. “This is wise,” he said.
“Very well, then,” said the man. “How have the other creatures called you?”
“They saw plainly how I am like the pegasus and the horse and the narwhal,” said the creature. “But being almost like them, but not quite, they thought perhaps I am turning into either a pegasus or a horse or a narwhal,” he said.
“How interesting,” said the man, amused.
“I was like the pegasus but could not soar like they could. I was like the horse but could not run quite like them. I was like the narwhal but could not swim like them,” said the creature.
“In their eyes I was like a magnificent creature, but only almost. Imperfectly glorious,” he said. The man listened.
“So they called me ‘becoming great,'” said the creature. “But I was not changing, I was never changing, and so I would never be great,” he said.
The man was beginning to understand. “You said they called you a name based on how you look. How else did they call you?”
“Ah, that,” said the creature. He bowed his head, letting the man touch his horn. It was sharp, and strong and smooth.
“They called me ‘unicorn,'” he said.
“Unicorn,” said the man. He turned it over and over in his mind. Finally, he spoke. “Well, that won’t do at all!” he said. “By my honour, I’ll give you name that suits and pleases you,” he said. “But until then…”
The man stepped in front of the unicorn, and bowed slightly. “What an absolute pleasure to meet with you.”