In The Last Unicorn, the fable written by Peter S. Beagle: a unicorn one day discovers she is the only unicorn left in a world that has stopped believing in fairies, fantasy and unicorns. Only someone who believes, can see the unicorn. Otherwise, you just see a horse – whatever your rational mind expect to see. The last unicorn goes on a journey to find out what happened to the rest of her kind. Along the way she finds out there are still some people who believes in unicorn – though not the way we expect:
But Molly pushed him aside and went up to the unicorn, scolding her as though she were a strayed milk cow. "Where have you been?" Before the whiteness and the shining horn, Molly shrank to a shrilling beetle, but this time it was the unicorn's old dark eyes that looked down.
"I am here now," she said at last.
Molly laughed with her lips flat. "And what good is it to me that you're here now? Where were you twenty years ago, ten years ago? How dare you, how are you come to me now, when I am this?" With a flap of her hand she summed herself up: barren face, desert eyes, and yellowing heart. "I wish you had never come. Why do you come now?" The tears began to slide down the sides of her nose.
The unicorn made no reply, and Schmendrick said, "She is the last. She is the last unicorn in the world."
"She would be." Molly sniffed. "It would be the last unicorn in the world that came to Molly Grue." She reached up then to lay her hand on the unicorn's cheek; but both of them flinched a little, and the touch came to rest on the swift, shivering place under the jaw. Molly said, "It's all right. I forgive you."
The Last Unicorn was adapted into an animated film that I watched when I was very young. One of my deepest memory from the film was the scene where Molly Grue first saw the last unicorn, recognise her for what she truly is – and her outcry of regret that the unicorn came so late.
Often we desires something so powerfully – but as the years passed these wishes seemed determined to remain unfulfilled. Then one day, when we least suspect it, our wishes finally arrives – but sadly we are no longer what we used to be. Perhaps what we wanted had come too late, and we are no longer able to appreciate it as we used to.
Molly Grue's outburst is understandable: why couldn't the unicorn have come earlier, when Molly was still young – when it might have still meant something? Now, the unicorn is just a reminder of Molly Grue as she used to be – a mockery almost, of how the years have been unkind. What was once our greatest desire has become a symbol of regret, of loss.
They say: the tragedy in a failed relationship isn't that love has ended, but that love still remains. What is poignant about Molly Grue is that she still believes in spite of the world. How sad it must be, to be alone in your faith.
But then again, it is incredible – and beautiful – that Molly Grue can still believe. Faith comes in unexpected packages, often in the most humble form.
We do not have the power to will the gifts that come to us. Perhaps the only thing we can do, is to do as Molly Grue: To accept the gift as it is; to forgive. There is a soft comfort in this.
I read The Last Unicorn novel last year for the first time. I compared my memory of this scene (from the film) with what was written in the book – and there appears to be some disparity between the two. It was as though I wasn't remembering the thing itself, but my interpretation of what I saw.
I first saw The Last Unicorn animated film when I was a child. At that age, the concept of age and loss should be irrelevant. So why did I choose to remember this scene (out of so many good ones) so dearly? What was going on in my head at that time, at that age?