Catching a Unicorn – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 November 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Derail
  • Reflection
  • Sugar

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!



“You know, this plan isn’t very good,” Shane said. “Everything I’ve read about catching a unicorn has to do with a virgin or something. I’ve never heard of using sugar.”

Janice sighed and rolled her eyes. “Just stay close and do what I say, ok? I’ve read the instructions a thousand times. Since we don’t have a virgin…”

“No kidding,” Shane muttered.

“Shut up. Since we don’t have a virgin, the idea is to entice them with the sugar and then catch them in their reflection.”

“Um, ok, not to derail your wonderful plan, but what exactly will they be reflected in?”

“We know the unicorns come at dawn to butterfly pond, right? So we can spell the water, and when it goes to take a drink…”

“Gotcha!” they said in unison.

Shane grinned. “Lead the way.”

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My plans were derailed when the sugar factory sent me the pink slip. Seven years I had slaved in the sales room and gotten some of the biggest contracts they had. They fire me because Nick Saint wouldn’t give me the contract. Well screw them. He was the smartest man I knew and seeing his reflection in the mirror behind me after a wild Friday night was worth every penny that I wouldn’t get this week. I sat on the edge of my bed and sighed. Now what? I wondered. A call flashed on my phone. I debated ignoring it as per usual but I needed a distraction from my current poor existence.

“Yes?’ I said into the phone, my voice still a little deep from my amazing weekend.

“How would you like to visit the South Pole?” a low voice said. My back went pole straight and my nerves flashed with energy.

“Mr. Saint? I can’t think of anything else I’d like to be doing right now.”

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Everything was in place to derail the king’s coronation. The street urchins had been payed to tip the barrels of oil over the procession. The sharpshooter with the flaming arrows was positioned on the corner of the highest roof of the square, his arrow coated in black to dull the sun’s reflection on the metal.

“What do you mean, the coronation has been called off?” the sulky lord shouted. “They can’t call it off!”

“I’m afraid they can, and they have,” the elderly advisor said without sympathy. “It’s raining. They cannot hold a party in the rain.”

“When will they reschedule?” the lord asked. “They did not see fit to give that information to me,” the advisor said, only now the slightest signs of strain seeping through his carefully controlled demeanor.

“Well, then, find out!” the lord said, throwing himself across the feather bed pouting. “First bring me some mulled apple cider. With sugar!” he added in an imperious tone at the retreating back of the old man. The advisor closed the door to the lord’s chamber, and only now did his impassive face melt into a disgruntled scowl.

“Perhaps someone should plan your assassination, you spoiled little brat,” he muttered to himself, before he walked off to get the tea.

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The reflection of the sugar glider in the lake was almost maybe starting to calm me… I hadn’t had time for a walk in over three days, what with my sister Carmen’s visit derailing every tiny detail of my usually impeccably methodical routine.

Firstly, booking a flight that arrived so late that she ended up on the last train out and got here to the end of the line at 3:20 AM. Neither early enough to require waking up early, nor late enough to conveniently allow for staying up a little. There literally couldn’t have been a worse time to need to be picked up.

I’d suggested Uber, but she’d never heard of it. Lyft either. And of course didn’t trust cabbies. She didn’t care about my fitbit circle, or my various yoga meetups. She still lived in the dark ages from before all these apps around which I’d built my life.

And it turns out she’d brought her dog with her, which on paper was a support animal, but in reality, my couch could barely support the damn thing. So here I was, distractedly forgetting to do my breathing exercises, alone at the park, just taking a fucking break from Carmen. Which didn’t move my fitbit count up one tiny bit, but I was too exhausted to care.

As I sighed, chilling out just looking at the glistening ripples of the lake, the sugar glider swooped by, depositing a little offwhite wet crap on my lap. Yup, that pretty much topped off the week.


“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jasmine said, downing another shot and putting her hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. She grabbed the next glass on the bar and downed it as well, coughing a little as she turned to face her friend. “Not a word,” she declared.

“Ok,” Rebecca agreed, ever the supportive friend, but her face was red with suppressed emotion, either horror or hilarity, Jasmine couldn’t tell, and she was starting to think it was a little bit of both.

“I mean it!” Jasmine insisted, turning to face her friend as the whiskey burned through her. “Not. A. Word.”

Rebecca mimed a lock and key in front her lips and sat perfectly still, the red in her face growing deeper with each passing second.

“I don’t ever want you to mention this again!” Jasmine snapped.

“Mention what?” Rebecca asked, turning away to face the bar, carefully not looking at her friend, suddenly very interested in her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Was it…” Jasmine let the words trail off. She grabbed the third shot, downed it, and faced her friend again. “Was it really that awful?”

“Do you want the truth or do you want me to sugar coat it?”

“Just hit me with it.”

“It was more than that awful. So much more. You certainly know how to derail a discussion, Jaz.”

Jasmine winced. “I know. It was terrible. I don’t know what came over me.”

Rebecca smirked, “Well, there are worse things in the world. Nothing comes to mind at present, of course, but I’m sure they exist.” She pondered. “Famine. Pestilence. War…”

“Ok,” Jasmine told her. “That’s enough hard hitting truth.”

“Are you kidding?” Rebecca asked. “That was sugar coated.”

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“Oh sugar,” Cali exclaimed.

“Really?” Max replied. “You can actually swear you know. It’s not going to be a poor reflection of your character.”

Cali shrugged. “I just didn’t feel like saying it. Sometimes swearing derails my train of thought, but now considering this ridiculous conversation, I should have just gone for it.” Cali’s voice rose in tenor, the way it normally did when she was aggravated. “Now, where was I?” She asked no one. “Right,” she said answering herself, focusing back on the shovel in her hand and continued to move the dirt off the top of the coffin.

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Coming soon!

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Filed under Creative Writing, Writers Group, Writing, Writing Exercise

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