In this week's story, Unicorns and Rainbows, Arwyn the rainbow farmer tends her herd of silver unicorns
Suggestions for writing prompts are always welcome! Otherwise, prompts are chosen in random ways. This week's prompt came from a unicorn-themed mini bubble wand. Unicorns and rainbows are everywhere... why not put them in a story?
More about Susan Quilty
Susan Quilty mainly writes novels, including two standalone novels and her current YA series: The Psychic Traveler Society. Susan's short stories for Freely Written are created during quick writing breaks and shared as a way to practice her narration skills before she dives into recording audio versions of her novels.
Below is the transcript for Season 1, Episode 21 of Freely Written, a podcast by author Susan Quilty:
Welcome to Freely Written where a simple prompt leads to a little unplanned fiction.
[Light piano music]
Hi, friends! I’m Susan Quilty and today’s prompt is Unicorns and Rainbows
Thanks for joining me today. Whether you’re new to Freely Written or have been listening from the beginning, here’s a quick reminder of how my process works. I use a prompt to write whatever story comes to mind—with no planning and very little editing—and then I share that story with you.
When I looked for a prompt today, my eyes rested on a mini bubble wand sitting on my desk. Its cap features a picture of a unicorn with a rainbow mane and tail. The unicorn appears to be winking slyly, and the background shows rainbow-colored stars in a purple sky. There are so many directions this story could go… I jumped in with fantasy.
And here’s the story:
Unicorns and Rainbows
The lavender grass in the pasture took on a more vibrant hue as the sun rose in the pink and blue sky. The gently rolling hills of the countryside stretched for miles, broken only by the small stone house and the larger enclosure where the unicorns could shelter as needed. Of course, the unicorns rarely used their covered home as they preferred to sleep under a starry sky.
Arwyn also enjoyed sleeping under the stars on occasion, though most nights, she was happy to nestle into her feather tick beneath a quilt of woven silk. She woke early each morning, before the peacocks’ daybreak warbling, and began her day with a leisurely walk through the unicorn pasture.
The unicorns adored Arwyn nearly as much as she loved them. Each morning, human and animal alike looked forward to their graceful ritual of greeting. As Arwyn strolled over the lavender grass, the unicorns unfolded their silvery limbs and rose to accept her gentle pats and friendly caresses. Their work would come later in the day, when the sun reached its full height and Arwyn was prepared to gather the clouds. For now, they simply enjoyed each other’s quiet presence.
Arwyn came from a long line of rainbow farmers and she was well suited to the job. While some of her ancestors had used gruff demands and appeals of authority to collect their harvest, Arwyn believed it was better to coax the unicorns with gracious requests and genuine affection. Her approach was inarguably the better method, as the farm had never had a more abundant yield and the gods were pleased with the brighter colors and longer endurance of her patiently gathered rainbows.
Yet, rainbow farming was difficult work. Gathering the clouds required a tremendous effort, and that was before the arduous task of wringing out just enough rain to release the brightest, happiest rainbows from her precious herd of unicorns.
The unicorns knew how hard the work was on Arwyn—though she never complained—and their love for her made them want her to succeed. As soon as the gentle rain fell, they gladly offered up their purest light, allowing vibrant rainbows to arc across the pure blue sky.
Above the clouds, the gods eagerly accepted these colored ribbons of light. They stored the rainbows away in crystal vials so they could be released in other locations at just the right auspicious occasions. It was a piece of god-craft that most humans knew nothing about. They were all too happy to interpret the rainbows as gifts from the gods, without ever knowing where the gods had harvested them.
Arwyn did not mind having a hidden role in this cosmic process. She, like the rainbow farmers before her, was content to live out her days among the unicorns. She knew she would one day meet a partner who would settle with her to raise a family and pass her knowledge to their own children.
For now, Arwyn lived in the quiet between generations. Her own parents had recently passed, and she had no siblings. This was not unusual among rainbow farmers. They often had only one child, or two children at most. Too many could lead to conflicts in running a farm and there were few places where a grown child could strike out to begin a new rainbow farm of their own.
Most rainbow farmers kept to themselves, outside of market days, and their unicorns rarely strayed beyond the undefined barriers of their own pastures. However, there was nothing to keep them on the farm, and unicorns did occasionally travel to other farmlands.
One morning, Arwyn was surprised to find a new unicorn resting just beyond the edge of her herd. She approached the creature cautiously, holding out her hand and offering warm murmurs of welcome. She had no way of knowing where the unicorn had been before or how long it would stay in her pasture, though she was pleased by its presence.
That afternoon, Arwyn strode to the center of the pasture with more purpose. She had completed her morning meditations and was ready to gather the clouds.
This difficult task took great concentration, and so Arwyn had put any thoughts of the new unicorn aside. She lifted her strong arms wide and turned in a slow circle. The circle expanded as she wove her way between the unicorns, using intricate flicks of her wrists and hands to coax the clouds together. As the circle grew, her pace increased. Her steps became a delicate dance as her skirt swished and her upper body swayed.
The unicorns smiled to see her weave her way between them. They could feel her love and gratitude as she passed. They could see the effort she expended to draw just the right number of clouds overhead.
The sun peeked gently between the clouds, lighting them from above even as their swell of rain darkened them from below. Back in the center of the pasture, Arwyn’s sweeping gestures held the clouds in place. Her fingers pulsed in a delicate clench and release, encouraging the clouds to release crystal drops of rain across the purple pasture.
As the warm drops began to fall, the unicorns glowed in pleasure. Arwyn let her gaze flit across her beloved friends as waves of light lifted from their silvery backs. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Each unicorn released waves of colored light, letting them rise through the clouds where they joined in graceful arcs. Each unicorn, that is, except one.
When Arwyn looked toward the edge of the pasture, she saw the new unicorn standing alone, shy and uncertain. Their eyes met, and Arwyn understood. This new unicorn had come from a farm where the rainbow ritual was quite different. Likely a farm where the unicorns had been lined up, assigned colors, and ordered to produce those colors on command.
It was a common practice in most farms, and while the new unicorn had not particularly enjoyed the process, he was startled to find himself in a place where there seemed to be no such order. He stood aside, wondering which color he was meant to produce and when he was meant to produce it. The freedom around him felt like chaos and he was unhappy.
Arwyn saw all this in a single glance and her heart was troubled. For a moment, the rain faltered and the air dimmed. The steady stream of rising colors paused as the unicorns glanced from Arwyn to the new unicorn.
The new unicorn bristled under the attention, a prickling feeling of unease spreading through his shaky limbs, but it was short-lived. Arwyn shook off her moment of concern and offered the new unicorn a radiant smile of welcome. With an encouraging glance among the others, she redoubled her efforts to draw the soft rain from the gathered clouds.
The unicorns nearest their new visitor stepped closer to him, gently releasing their colors into the damp sky. He saw that they gave their colors without direction. They gave their colors freely. Looking back at Arwyn, he saw that she was content to have him with them whether he produced his own colors or not.
A warmth spread through the new unicorn, replacing the quake of unease he’d felt just moments before. He watched the joy in the unicorns around him, felt the softness of the clouds’ rain, and released a symphony of color, smiling as his own offering joined to form a brilliant rainbow against the pure blue sky.
Thank you for making time for that story break. If you have suggestions for writing prompts, I’d be happy to use them for future stories. If you’d like to learn more about me and my books, you can visit my website, SusanQuilty.com. You can also follow me on social media, or support me through my Patreon page.
Until next time, try a little free writing of your own. Let go of any planning and see where your imagination takes you.
[Light piano music]