The Story You Shouldn't Know

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~Them meaning of good and bad, of better and worse, is simply helping or hurting~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

~Say to yourself at daybreak: I shall come across the busybody, the thankless, the overbearing, the treacherous, the envious, the un-neighborly. All this has befallen them because they know not good from evil.~

~So long, and thanks for all the fish!~
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Even though neither Josh nor Anna were ever seen again, their legacies live on. Because they are not anywhere - they are everywhere.

Within every human, within every living creature on the Earth, there is a part of Josh, and there is a part of Anna.

In each of us, there is a sly devil, waiting for his opportunity to catch us unawares. Sometimes, when it is very quiet, when the conscience is troubled, you can hear his voice. It is smooth, persuasive, and utterly treacherous.

Fortunately, there is also a half-angel concealed within us as well. A little good goes a long way, and although sometimes it is hard to see – it is always there, urging us to ignore the devil. Urging us to do what's right.

And although doing what's right is not always easy, Anna has given us a gift, in a way. Within each of us is the power to summon the angels, the power to overcome anything if we truly want to. They are always waiting, always eager to help. Within every person, there is capacity for evil, and capacity for greatness.

When you make the choice between whose legacy you wish to follow, it would do you well to remember this:

Josh's legacy is a deceptive path, attractive as it may seem. He will always deny his followers, and his path inevitably leads to destruction. His path had lead to destruction.

Anna's legacy is difficult to follow, and often paved with seemingly impossible obstacles, but in the end, her road leads to salvation, and always will.

"… and that is the tale of the devil, and how he came to exist within each and every one of us," finished Safia, her voice hushed.

The three small faces in front of her were gazing at her in awe, completely immersed in the story she had been telling. Finally, the smallest one cleared his throat.

"I geddit!" said Ali, marveling. "It's one of 'em fairy tales! Like a moral story!"

Safia turned to Hussein and grinned. Hussein rolled his eyes.

"Sure, kids," he said agreeably. "A fairy tale. That's what it is."

The only girl between his three children sighed contentedly. "Auntie, that was beautiful. It's just like a princess story – except it's not."

"Gah," said Ali in disgust. "Princess story? Ew, Maryam. I liked the devil. Dad, can I be a devil when I grow up?"

Hussein choked. "Safia, I'm not sure you told this fairy tale quite right."

Safia burst into laughter. Although she was only a year younger than Hussein, she seemed much more youthful than he was. Her face was smooth as it had always been, her eyes as bright. Hussein could have sworn she was no more mature than she'd been at fourteen.

"I liked the Wolf," said Maryam's twin, Bashar, unexpectedly. "Dad, can we get a dog?"

Hussein groaned, leaning back against the couch. He glared at Safia pointedly.

"I knew telling them would be a bad idea," he said under his breath.

Safia's eyes were glittering. "Far from it. I think this was brilliant - besides, you helped me tell it as well!"

She turned to the three kids, who had already begun to fidget, wiggling their bottoms on the floor where they were sitting in a neat semi-circle.

"You have to promise me something, of course," she told them, lowering her voice for dramatic effect.

The three immediately focused their attention on her. Safia had the uncanny knack of captivating children. It made her a fantastic babysitter.

"What?" said Bashar eagerly. He was the most intelligent of the three, the eldest, and the one who resembled Hussein the most.

"You can never tell anyone this story," said Safia slowly, looking them each in the eye. "This will be our little secret. You won't even tell your mother. You're going to keep it until you have children yourselves, and then you'll each tell your children in turn. Never let anyone outside find out – but never let it die."

The three children nodded, wide-eyed. Hussein groaned, sinking a little lower in his seat. He would be in for it if his wife found out he'd been filling the kids' heads with angels and devils again.

"Is it a true story, Auntie?" asked Maryam worshipfully.

Safia paused, looking at Hussein. He shook his head frantically.

"I'll tell you another secret," she said with a smile. "It is."

Hussein facepalmed.

"Whahaha!" exclaimed Ali in disbelief. "Now you're just joking with us, aren't you, Aunt S? It can't be real. That would mean you and dad met the angel and the devil. No way!"

"And how would you know it all?" said Bashar sensibly.

"Potato," said Maryam, whose attention had wandered and was gazing out of the window. The two boys ignored her.

"I dreamed about it," said Safia, her face darkening momentarily. "I had … many dreams about it. Night after night. I think, in their own way, somebody doesn't want to be forgotten."

Ali pursed his lips, looking skeptical. Bashar scratched his head. Maryam was still gazing out of the window. She smiled unexpectedly.

"I think it's real," she declared.

"Great," said Hussein heartily. "Just great."

"It can't be true," said Bashar stubbornly, sticking his chin in the air. "If it was really the story of an angel and the devil, and if they really are everywhere and inside us and all that wonky crap – "

"Bashar," said Hussein warningly.

"Sorry – and all that wonky baloney – then we wouldn't be allowed to know," he finished, looking at Safia keenly. "We shouldn't know, if it was true."

Safia smiled.

"It's the story you shouldn't know."

The End