She seemed to have been born of the sun. Her hair shone; her face shone as well. Her skin was as bright as the day, her bosom as warm as polished rocks in the summer sun. She lived in the land of the Divine where there is neither illness nor accident and where even old animals play all day, mindful only of the now and caring no more about tomorrow than a kitten does.
But one day she was called, for she was needed. As the sun descended toward the western hills she left that land of constant joy and no tomorrow. She walked slowly at first, then hurried toward the hills behind which the sun soon dropped. The rocks had lost their shine and were cold. The hills became dark and undefined. The grass beneath the girl’s feet was still soft but no longer warm and only darkness was in the sky behind her.
She walked into the darkening hills more quickly than one really can, save in dreams. She walked all night unafraid of anything, for nothing could or would have wished to harm the child of day. Night’s terrors bowed as they sought a glimpse of her. Cougars purred at her approach for she was beautiful, and wolves ran to lick her hand for she was good. She had lost nothing of the radiance of the day and she passed through the night like a torch moving on the hills. At dawn the terrors would still feel warmed by her passing and greet the day with lighter hearts.
At last the girl saw where she had been summoned to. It was a little house between two of the hills with a single candle lighting the window of one room. There was a stone chimney which smoked a little, laying a lazy haze in the still air about the place. She could see it all for the moon had risen. Full in the sky above, it lit the cabin as though it had no other work that night. Perhaps it hadn’t for the pines that rose all about the house were as dark as they had been before its rising.
She approached that window lighted by a candle. How poorly the pane reflected her beauty. Yet the flame leapt at sight of her as though in joy; as though the girl was the mother of the tiny flame and it sought to reach up to her as an infant to its mother. She peered inside. There lay a child under a coverlet embroidered with wildflowers. The boy was not asleep. His eyes were closed, but in fear, not rest. He did not know why. This night was no different from other nights, the day had been no more troublesome than other days. Tomorrow would be no different either, he told himself as he tried to fall into sleep. Somehow he knew that was not true and in fear he awaited the messenger he sensed would come.
There was a knock. It was not the fearsome knock that he expected but only a tiny rapping as though to tell him not to fear. Then she stood by his bed and the room brightened. The single candle shone with the brightness of a rich man’s candelabra or the lamps of many windings that hung in the church far down in the valley where the child prayed each Sunday.
“Do not be afraid, Joseph. I do not bring pain. I am your friend death.”