"Once upon a time," she says, and touches in-between the eyes of her little girl, tucked up tight under a pale green and blue quilt, "once upon a time, a woman found a man, walking around, with an arrow in his back."
The little girl's eyes get wide, and her mother picks at her bangs, pushes the black hair aside, draws her hand down her cheek and resettles the quilt around her daughter's shoulders.
"He didn't seem to notice the arrow, and it didn't seem to hurt, but still, the woman saw it, saw it was lead."
"What does that mean, Mommy?"
"It means, it means… he couldn't fall in love."
"Because he'd never met anyone who could see it in his back and pull it out."
"But she could, right?"
"The woman? Yes, she could have. Do you want to know why?"
"Because, she found, that this arrow, looked just like her own, except, not the same color. Her's was gold."
"How could she see it?"
"Well, you see, as soon as she saw that lead arrow, she could see hers, because they were a pair." The little girl's mother punctuates her sentence with soft touches to her daughter's nose. She scrunches it up, but still her eyes are wide, fascinated, focused on answers.
"What's that mean?"
"It means the woman fell in love with the man."
"Does that mean she needed him to pull hers out?"
The woman laughs, long and loud, completely delighted. "No, heart of hearts."
Behind her comes a voice. "It means, since you ask, that he was blind and she was not."
He enters the room, frowning. "What illogical fiction your mother is telling you."
"I wanted a story! Are you mad?"
"No," he says, at the same time as his wife. She says, "He's being funny. You should know that, my heart."
"Daddy, do you know the rest of the story? Does the woman pull the arrow out?"
He smiles, but it softens, fades a little, as he stands, then crouches down, placing his hand on his daughter's head. "No. He had to do that himself."
"But how? It's in his back! That would hurt."
"Yes. And it did. But, he did it slowly and carefully."
"And then he could fall in love!"
Again, her father smiles. "He already was."
The little girl's mother leans over, rests her head on her husband's shoulder, and says, "All it did was keep him blind, that's all. Time for you to go to sleep, now."
"That's all," says her father. "Now, rest."