Elllie Sprockets walks into the dimly lighted workshop, wearing a dark red dress with long sleeves, a vest-like brown bustier, and a knee length skirt, with white bloomers beneath, and brown, leather ankle high boots with straps, she took a quick look around and came to a stop.
There on his workbench sat her grandfather, sitting in a composed demeanor, seemingly attempting to begin to start on tinkering with some gears as he often used to, ignoring well his withering age and illness, Ellie was far to young to comprehend just how ill he truly was, or how much it hurt him to no longer be able to grasp his screwdriver properly, his vision was slowly fading, the voices around him echoed and dimmed, barely audible, he turned with steel blue eyes to his dear granddaughter, one child may feel intimidated my his piercing gaze, but little Ellie simply scoffed.
" Daddy says its time for dinner." She said, wanting to get out of the old dusty shop as soon as possible.
" Come closer, Ellie, I fear my hearing is no longer what it used to be."
The green-eyed girl with blonde ringlets that cascaded down her back walked up to him. " Its time for dinner." She repeated, hardly concealing her impatience.
Her grandfather chuckled," Tell your father that I'll be there in a moment, I just wanted to sit in here one last time." Looking around with a glimmer of nostalgia gleaming in his blue eyes, dulled in his old age.
"Why is it your last time? Just come back after dinner." Ellie replied, hardly paying in any mind.
He turned backed to her with a sad smile.
" Ellie, come sit, I wish to tell you something very important." He said, patting his knee, gesturing for her to come sit..
She rolled her eyes with a scoff." Fine." Said the six-year-old as she climbed on her grandpa's lap.
" Have I ever told you of the "Lady in Black"? "
" No." Ellie replied, visualizing a frightening cloaked woman in dark clothing with flaring demonic red eyes, with nothing but woe and misery in her intent.
" The Lady in Black is a beautiful, fierce, determined, yet strong woman, enduring the harsh judgments of her misunderstood duty with defined grace." He explained.
" What does she do?" Ellie asked, listening more intently, wondering just who he was talking about.
" She does a wondrous job, she comes when she needs to, she is never late, she never slacks off, and most importantly she gets it right each and every time." The old man said almost theatrically, his eyes darting lightly about, no longer able to focus.
" But grandpa, what does she do?" Ellie asked with impatient excitement.
" She brings peace and rest to those who had long suffered, leading them to the final step of their long journey, and bringing in her elegant stride the excitement of a new adventure."
" She sounds nice, do you know her?" Ellie asked.
" Everyone knows her."
" Like Santa clause?"
He laughed," No, not like Santa clause, she is an entity far more ancient."
He was silent for only a moment, his smile never once fading, it was a soft and weak one, just the same.
" I don't know her." Ellie said, sadly.
" You will, my sweet Ellie, you will, and when you do, you may find that you don't like her, you may wish she did not exist, but you need to be strong, and understand the brilliant mystery of her design.
" When will I meet her?" Ellie asked.
" In time, my dear, but first, let me tell you the story about a boy who lived a long time ago, no older then you when his parents were taken away by the "Bad Men", at his parents urging, the little boy hid away in the woods, hoping to meet his parents by morning,
But it was not to be."
" What happened?" The child asked, wide-eyed and curious.
Beneath his small smile came a soft chuckle.
" The lady in black came." He answered, solemnly.
Ellie gasped, " But if the Lady in Black came and took his parents then, why do you say she is good, I would hate anyone who took my mommy and daddy away."
" Yes, and he did hate her, back then, and he hated her again when she took his uncles, his aunts, and several of his cousins, and later on his first wife, and child, but most of all, he hated himself, for always being the one who stayed, always being the one she walked past, over and over again..."
" What did he do?" Ellie asked.
" He lived on."
" Did that make him feel better?"
" In the strangest way, yes, he, the sadness never left him, not entirely, at least, but it was okay, after he had moved on past the worst of his grief, he found a new love, and with her built a toyshop, so as to bring joy and fun to all the children who are fortunate enough to enjoy their childhoods, where he would spend much of his time, happy to work as hard as he could just to see someone smile.
" He owns a Toyshop, like you?" Ellie asked, starting to catch on.
"Yes, sweet Ellie, and then, in time, he had children of his own, a son and daughter, whom he loved with all his heart, he showed them how to create the toys in the toyshop, he mentored them in sewing the dolls, carving the wood, piecing the gears just right, they learned all the skills and tricks of the trade, and now, it all falls to them, to look after it, and let it live on, for aren't toys so much more magical when you know that they were created with skill, hard work, and most of all, love?"
Ellie was now a bit confused, but nodded. " Yes." She said.
" Your a good little girl, Ellie, tell your sister about these things I had told you, do not be afraid for the future, for whatever it may hold, work hard, be honest, and remember that whatever comes was meant to come to you all along, it will make you into the woman you are meant to someday become, do you understand?"
" Ellie, Dad, come on, dinner's getting cold." Ellie's father voice floated into the workshop.
" Go on, Ellie, I will be with you soon.." Her Grandfather said weakly.
" Okay." She said as she climbed off his knee and made her way into the house.
"But not to soon, I hope..." He said as he glanced at the cuckoo clock, it was half past the hour, more then enough time he had spend, just holding on a little longer.
He did not know the exact time though, for he could no longer see.
" I guess its time." He said as a statuesque cloaked figure appeared.......
Flowers were placed at a silent head stone by two little girls, one was 6, the other 3, the elder held the younger one's hand.
" I miss grandpa! " The chestnut-haired Toddler, mary sobbed.
Tears were falling down Ellie's cheeks as well, having now fully understood what her Grandfather was telling her.
" I do to," She said, hugging her sister, " But he wouldn't want us to be sad, he'd want us to be happy, to.." She trailed off, seeing someone she had never met, but knew just the same.
The Lady in Black.
" To live on." She finished, choking back a sob.
" Its time to go, girls." Their mother said, picking up the upset Toddler.
" Can I have a moment, Mom?" She asked quietly.
" Okay." Her mother said.
Ellie, now alone, without anyone there to comfort, or be strong for, finally gave into her sorrow.
" I'm sorry, grandpa! I was always such a brat toward you, and you were only trying to teach me to be a better person, I'm sorry it took me so long, but I get it now, I'll be good, I'll be strong, look for the value of life, and stay at the toyshop, I promise! It won't die, the Lady in Black won't have that!" She cried, holding back her tears no longer.
Then, she looked up......
Ellie saw her Grandpa, as a child no older then her, he was just as he looked in those old photos she saw, he looked to her one last time with a smile, his eyes a bright, vibrant blue again, gave a wave, and then he turned and took the lady's hand.
Ellie waved back, smiling through her tears, happy that he was at peace, then she looked to the Lady in Black.
Ellie did not smile at her, she did not thank her, she did not avert her eyes nor glare hatefully, she simply gave a silent nod.
She wasn't going to say she liked it, but she did understand.
" Goodbye, Grandpa." She whispered.
Then they vanished from sight, going to a place where Ellie could not follow, where no one leave to soon, where there is no pain, no bitterness, hate, or anger.
" Hey Ellie, check out the new backpack my parents got me." Ellie's friend Jared, with a tan cloth backpack with mechanical arms extending out, said to her as she was playing with her sister with a simple wind-up toy soldier.
"Its like having spider legs," he said excitedly, making the legs raise him up high above their heads." You just gotta put on this helmet and its like their your own legs," he bragged," Wanna play?"
Ellie looked to her sister, who was delightfully laughing as she followed the tiny soldier.
" Thanks, but I'm good." She said as she returned to playing with the simple Tinker toy from the old toyshop down the road.