I save the ribbed horn for last after the glowing tenderloins and flaky iridescent wings marinated in fairy juice. I take if off my plate and grip the eyeless muzzle in between my thighs, cracking the tip open with my tungsten horn cracker. Dark brown instead of golden sparkly unicream squirts onto my favorite mermaidskin bib. I stick the holey tip in my mouth anyway, slurping, licking my fingers, one by one, as I chew sweet grainy pearls that somehow turn bitter. I gag. And spit. And gag some more. My waiter has forgotten about me. The cacophony of happy hour drowns my shouts.

 

A busser, hugging a bin of dirty cups, rushes by. I snatch one. My need to wash the acrid taste down overwhelms the sight of uni bits floating around. So I gulp and gulp and suddenly swallow a lost memory — my childhood friend, Galin, a unicorn, spiraling my father and I up the redwoods, soaring in secret, after whispers of bedtime stories, in search of needles and cones hiding tasty little giants sleeping alone.

 

My stomach burns. Trapped, I feel his stabbing shrieks, all of them, their infernal neighing cries boiling my insides. I shove my fist down my throat, trying to save them.

 

Too late.

 

My waiter finally shows up. “You okay?” Can I get you something else?”

 

“No. I’m done.” Done with horns, their flesh, their secretions.

 

Outside the tavern’s window, spears of sunlight penetrate gray clouds, casting light upon the heartbeat of the forest.

 

Never too late.

 

A tray of sizzling scales steams by. “Actually, do you still have that special on fried baby dragons, you know, with the extra spicy flames still inside?”