My Five Unicorns

by Pat Fish

March 13, 1960

Spent all day today trying to wash my clothes. I don't know much about Aunt's old washing machine. Aunt always washed the clothes. Anyway I found some soap powder and pushed some buttons. For a day after the snow storm nothing was coming out of the faucets except a drip, but now there seems to be water. The weather has gotten a lot warmer and if I turn the jets on the stove it heats up the kitchen. The cats and I sleep in there.

Only everything I washed got smaller. That real nice sweater you gave me for my last birthday Mom, now only fits Tiny Tears. I always loved that sweater, with the fabric rose buttons. Two of my uniforms faded real bad. I just know Sister will be so mad.

The cats had a wonderful meal of tuna fish! I managed to swipe two tuna fish sandwiches off of the poor table today. I wonder why they call it the poor table and why I don't qualify.

I found some old True Romance magazines in Aunt's room and read every one. I know I could write as well as some of those stories Mom.

And next week....ta da....the St. Patrick's day show.

March 14, 1960

Dear Mom,

I went to church today. I go to church every Sunday. Sister says Catholics go to Hell if they don't go to church on Sunday. Last Sunday I put two pennies in the collection basket. This Sunday I didn't have any money to put in the collection basket.

I stole some ground beef out of Mrs. Brown's refrigerator. I confessed to Father Parks about the hot dogs I stole, but like I said, only those that I ate. I intend to do the same thing about the ground beef. The cats and I were so hungry that I didn't even try to do anything with the hamburger but to fry it up in the frying pan. Then the cats and I sat down at the kitchen table and ate hamburger right from the pan.

Cindy Baker came over and we played jump rope. The weather is getting real nice. I was so happy to play for a while that I almost slipped and told Cindy about my unicorns. I even had fun though Cindy sometimes cheats. We did "fudge, the judge...mama's got a newborn baby....wrap it up in tissue paper...send it up the elevator...first floor....STOP". The idea is that the person turning the jump rope tries to trick the jumper. So I went "second floor....." then I waited a long time while Cindy jumped even if I winked an eye. Then I went "JUMP" when Cindy least expected it and she stepped on the rope. Only she says she didn't. We got into a fight and Cindy went home. I didn't care, I was tired of her anyways. I hope Cindy confesses to Father Parks about her cheating and lying. I wonder if I could confess for her.

Still haven't heard from Aunt. If I don't hear from her soon I am going to call somebody. I may as well wait until after the St. Patrick's day show. Then I guess I will call the police. I would ask Sister to help but she is still mad at me about the writing on the desk. She hasn't done anything yet. I wish she would just punish me or whatever she is going to do.

March 15, 1960

Dear Mom,

Since we ate all the ground beef, I had to go through Mrs. Brown's garbage. She caught me and gave me a really hard time about it. I told her I was looking for food for my cats, that Aunt says I have to feed them myself. I was kind of scared. I figure if she knew Aunt was gone she might call the police or worse, Sister. No matter what I want to be in the St. Patrick's day show.

But Mrs. Brown told me I should get some sort of job to feed my cats, that going through people's garbage was not respectable. She did ask me how was Aunt, and I told her she was fine.

With Mrs. Brown on to my garbage taking, I had to go out of the neighborhood. It was kind of scary. I went picking through some trash cans and this really ugly guy yelled at me. Finally I found some food in the big bin at the Gino's down from Aunt's. Some real good food, too. I got right down in the can and picked up every hamburger bit or roll I could find. When I got home, the cats were really happy. Even Tiny Tears ate a hamburger roll.

I saved a whole bunch of hamburger bits and we all practiced being unicorns. My hot dogs are still in the refrigerator, waiting for St. Patrick's day. Sometimes I get real hungry and think about eating them. But I couldn't eat the cat's food. They depend on me.

Anyway, the unicorn practice went well. What I do, I have them all stand in a line and follow me. Course I have to drop some pieces of hot dog in just such a way that they know where to go. They don't even bother with the cone horns any more and they do look so cute. I just can't wait I just can't wait.

Father Parks talked to me today. He thinks I spent my collection money on a doughnut and chocolate milk at the bakery. I did do that one time before and confessed my sin to Father Parks. So since I didn't have any money for the collection plate, he asked me if I might have gone to the bakery again. Which I don't think is real fair, since I don't think the Father is supposed to talk about stuff you said in confession. Father told me he knows Aunt always gives me collection money and since I didn't have any, I must have spent it. Father told me I would go to Hell for spending God's collection money. I decided that if I was going to Hell anyway I may as well not even go to Mass on Sunday.

Found a whole bunch of newspapers outside of the school. Nobody appeared to own them so I brought them all home. Read them all...even the classified ads.

Sister still has said nothing about writing on the desk. I wonder if I will get away with it.

March 16, 1960

Dear Mom,

Had to use a hot dog today to practice with the unicorns...I mean cats. Hahaha. Still have plenty left for the St. Patrick's day show. I tell you, Susie Puke's humpty backed camels have nothing on my unicorns!

Going to bed early. Starched my uniform for the show tomorrow. It is really really shiny. Am excited. Weather is warm so I probably can sleep in the bed tonight. Had dinner at Cindy Baker's house. I ate so much Mrs. Baker thought I was hiding food. Which I was. Managed to get three pieces of chicken out of there, hidden in my socks.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom. St. Patrick's Day!!!

March 18, 1960

Dear Mom,

Miss Virginia is downstairs right now and waiting for me. I begged her to let me write this letter because, well, I don't know when I might be able to write to you again. And Miss Virginia says that when she finds out your address, she will definitely let me send you all my letters.

I took the cats to the St. Patrick's day show. Only things didn't turn out quite the way I thought they would. I guess it's probably okay though. Miss Virginia seems nice enough.

After I got home from school last night I changed my clothes. I did not have anything real nice to wear, so I took some clothes out of Aunt's closet. I had to put a belt around the skirt to hold it up but it looked pretty good. Then I had to take the cats to the school. The show was held in the combination lunch room and auditorium. Anyway, I hadn't figured the cats would be so hard to transport. Actually, I hadn't thought about it at all. And it was a problem.

You really can't make cats walk on a leash. And they don't especially follow you when you want them to. So I carried them all in a cardboard box except Tiny Tears. I had to carry her on my shoulder because she is so sick.

It was hard walking along with four cats in the box and Tiny Tears on my shoulder. And my skirt kept slipping so I almost fell a couple of times. Anyway, I finally made it to St. Patrick's Elementary School and was ready and real excited.

Each grade got to do a little act and sing a song. All the parents were there. Except you Mom. I hope you come home soon so you can go to the school shows like the other parents.

Anyway, it was our classes' turn. The green alligators were really cool. Joan Petrucci's Mom made them. Joan and her sister both did a duck walk under the green felt. Course I couldn't watch the show because I was so nervous and because the cats were getting hard to control. They hated being in that box.

Finally it was time for "there is no unicorn." I got all the cats out of the box, put on their horns and put Tiny Tears down from my shoulder. Only she could hardly walk. I picked her up and carried her on the stage.

Mom, even though I had practiced for so long with the cats, I forgot that there would be so many people at the show. I was dropping the hot dogs real nice and they all followed me from behind the curtains. It was when they saw all the people that they freaked out.

Jerry ran first. He ran off the stage he was so scared and ran right up Sister's habit. Sister was real mad and was screaming to get this cat off of her. Someone in the audience had to take off her habit to get the cat because he was really hurting Sister. It was kind of funny really, because Sister had on this great big pair of underwear. I have never seen underwear this big, it was like they were pants or something.

Ken just crouched down at first, then he took off when Sister screamed. Barbie and Joan each ran off the stage, over and through people. Soon everyone in the place was screaming and the cats were screaming too because people were stepping on them. It was so crazy and I couldn't do anything but hold on to Tiny Tears because she was so sick. The screaming and running went on for almost ten minutes but even with all this I couldn't think of anything but Tiny Tears and how worried I was. She depends on me and I let her down.

Then the police came.

Then I started to cry.

I couldn't help it Mom. I know you told me to be a big girl, that tears don't help a whole lot of things. But I just knew the police were going to take me away.

At first I thought they were going to take me away because I wrote on the desk. But then I realized that having the cat run up Sister's habit was probably worse than this. For a moment, I thought maybe they were picking me up because I spent the collection money at the bakery.

Then I knew the truth was that I was the one who brought these five cats and caused all these problems. And it didn't matter anymore whether I wrote on the desk or bought doughnuts with the collection money or stole from Mrs. Brown's trashcan. Because I knew I was going to be put in a home even if I wasn't sure which one of my many crimes was the reason. So I just started to cry.

And right then I didn't care what they did with me because Tiny Tears counted on me and I had to get her help. When the policeman came up on the stage he asked me what was wrong.

So I told him to please, please, please get all my cats. And to please, please, please let me take Tiny Tears to the doctors because she was real sick. I told him that we didn't have any heat during the snow storm and I don't think I have been getting Tiny Tears enough to eat. I just cried and sobbed and told the policeman that I will pay for the desk and I promise to leave Mrs. Brown's trashcans alone. I was just real upset Mom.

The policeman had me sit in a chair and promised me he would get help for Tiny Tears and he would find all my cats. He was real nice. He told me to just sit in a chair.

That's when Miss Virginia showed up. I had stopped crying right now, but I was ready to start again. Tiny Tears just lay on my shoulder. I just felt so bad she had counted on me to take care of her and what a lousy job I was doing.

So Miss Virginia took me to this real nice place last night. She had a brother that was an animal doctor and he came over to get Tiny Tears. He told me he thought she had a stomach blockage and that if it weren't for me she probably would be dead by now. That made me feel better. Miss Virginia took the other cats home with her and promised me she would take care of them.

So I am back here at Aunt's house and am packing all my stuff. Miss Virginia says I will go live with some nice people and she promises me I will be very happy. I told her I was pretty happy right now.

I probably won't be going back to St. Patrick's school. Miss Virginia says I will probably go to another school as nice, or nicer, than St. Patrick's. And she did let me write this letter and she says when she finds out your address she will let me send you the letters.

Miss Virginia promises that she will take care of my cats and just as soon as I go to a new home she will try to let me take one or two of the cats with me. But she is so nice Mom, because she said I could visit them anytime.

Which is so important, because they really depend on me.

Bye, Mom.

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