In a small room in a small house a grandmother was putting her young granddaughter to bed. Her own daughter lay in another bed in the intensive care ward of a hospital; that day she'd been shot in the head by a man who wanted nothing more than her purse. As the grandmother sat down on the edge of the bed, she gave the ignorant child a sad smile. She knew that neither of them would ever speak to the woman in the hospital again. The child smiled innocently and pulled on her grandmother's hand.
"What's the matter, Nana?"
"Nothing child, nothing."
"Will you tell me a story? Mommy always tells me a story before I have to go to sleep."
"Of course darling." The grandmother had to look away for a second to hide the tears that wouldn't stay back. "Let me think for a second," she said. The pictures running through her mind made her want to break out into sobs on the floor, but she had to stay strong for the child. She gathered all the good thoughts she could to her chest, struggling to regain her composure. Finally she was able to turn back to the child. She took the edge of the quilt and pulled it farther up and smiled almost genuinely as the little girl snuggled deeper under the covers. And so she began her story.
"When I was little," she said, stroking the child's hair, "my nana used to tell me a story that her nana used to tell her."
"Is it a very old story Nana?"
"Yes, dear. Very, very old. It is a legend so old that no one knows where it came from anymore."
"Do lots of nana's tell it?"
"I don't know child, but I do hope so."
"Ok," the child said, squirming beneath the covers again, "I'm ready."
"Alright." The grandmother smiled tiredly and furrowed her brow, thinking of where to begin.
"As I said before, this legend is older than you or I could ever imagine. It is the legend of the girl with black wings."
"Black wings?" The child started to sit up excitedly, but was met with a gentle yet firm push back to her pillow and unsuccessfully warned not to interrupt.
"Yes, black wings. No one can tell who she is, because she looks just like the rest of us. But when she is needed her wings appear and her eyes turn black like her wings. The legend says that she is the one who will rid the world of all evil."
"Is she a superhero?"
"Something like that. There are others like her, with their own abilities to fight what is wrong and unjust. But she is special. They call her the vessel."
"Nana, what's a vessel?"
"A vessel is something that carries things inside it, like a glass of water. She is the vessel because only she can draw evil straight out of someone and into herself."
"How does she do it?"
"I don't know…"
"Does it hurt?"
"I have no idea…"
"Now let me finish! I don't know how she works; no one does because no one has ever seen her. But she and her companions are always fighting for good, and she is always taking more evil out of people. They will fight until she has taken all the evil in the world into herself."
"And then what happens?"
"Well, it's not really a happy ending."
"Tell me Nana! I want to know!"
The grandmother sighed and inwardly shook herself to prevent the breakdown that was inevitable from appearing too soon.
"Once she has drawn everything that is dark and wicked into herself she will die in an amazing flash of light, taking it all with her into the next life. And the world and all the people in it will finally be at peace."
The little girl frowned momentarily, "Nana, do you think it's true?"
The grandmother smiled again, letting a single tear fall, "Little one, I hope so more than anything."