We looked at the Angel in amazement. Skin the colours you see across the skyline during a winter sunset, and hair all the shades of blue, indigo and black that the sky uses to push away the exuberance of the sun to make place for the night sky with its humbler yet sharper stars.
The angel came over to greet us, and immediately Si and I felt this was someone we would be spending time with. The three of us went to sit on top of a hill, where we could watch the dying of the day. That time of peace and noise. Peace up here as humans had gone home to get ready for the last meal of the day and to sleep, noise down in the human homes as families worked, talked, sang and played together to finish the day.
The sky faded from the most intense colours to a darker and darker blue, the stars decorating the sky in ways that still make it hard to believe that their patterns were not planned only for this viewpoint.
Eventually. “My name is Sunset Two”.
Well that made sense to me. Si looked at me and we smiled, happy to have a new friend of such beauty.
We gave our names and explained what we did and why we did it together so often. Sunset Two smiled and said, “I have one of the loveliest tasks; I bring peace to those watching the sunset alone. People often face dangers at night and they cope far better when they are not worried or distracted by excessive thoughts. Giving them peace at sunset means they survive dangers, and sleep better to live better the next day.”
After that we sometimes saw Sunset Two, usually at sunset, and had happy and peaceful times together passing on the peace of day-end to those who needed it.
One evening, as the sky darkened Sunset Two began talking
“Once there were two children, born to a king. The firstborn was a girl, with flaming hair like the sunset, and eyes like the sky at midday. The second a boy, pale and ethereal. They had different mothers as the girl’s mother had been sick for some years before she died.
He named them Sunset and Moonrise after the times of their births.
Sunset was lively, vivacious always on the move, open and happy. She loved and trusted all she met. She was also wise beyond her years and could see into the hearts of many and understand their motives.
Moonrise was a thoughtful boy, studious and intelligent. He was also extremely fond of music.
Their father, the king had been quite old when he finally married the mother of his son, and therefore it was not unexpected that he died before Moonrise was old enough to rule. Sunset was a few years older and was ready, according to their custom, to select her husband from those who would offer themselves.
The king’s council sat in session, with the queen attending. There was much discussion over who would be regent until Moonrise would be old enough and ready to be made king.
Eventually the queen interrupted their discussion, saying “My husband the king, often said we should marry Sunset to the man who should be regent, to make him a part of the family. He said that she understands people instinctively and her choice would be good.” The council debated this for a while, and then they sent for Sunset.
The oldest member of the council stood and said “Sunset, I think it would be good if I married you. Will you accept me?”
Sunset looked at him sadly “I would not be happy with a husband even older than my father. I do not think you will live long enough to see my brother made king.” Her mother gasped, she had not realised Sunset knew of her father’s wish. The old man looked sad, and then he said “I see your father was right; you are wise”.
The next council member stood. He said “Sunset, I have large lands of my own; I think it is right that I should be your husband and the regent.”
Sunset looked at him and she said “Your motives are always for personal gain, I do not believe my brother would live long enough to become king, and that you would take the crown for yourself. I cannot marry you, for you would endanger my brother’s life.” The man was very angry at this and strode out saying “You haven’t heard the last of this!”
The next, a very handsome man, dressed in the most beautiful clothes of all in the room, walked over to Sunset. He took her hand and stroked her hair. He said “Sunset, we can be happy together, filling our lives with beauty and pleasure. You are yet young to understand, but you will come to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh with me as a woman should.” Sunset shivered, seeming drawn by his presence and the feelings of pleasure he gave by touching her. Her mother looked worried.
Sunset smiled at the man, she reached out and drew her fingers across his lips. “With you I would not be happy for long. You search always for new pleasures, new sensations. I have heard the women’s talk; you love sensation, not the person of the woman. You would be too busy chasing women to make a good regent and protect my brother, or to make me happy.”
He smiled and said “You are too young to understand the pleasures. One day you will come to me.”
A serious yet good looking man stood next “Sunset, you know how I have always loved you and your brother. I care about his future. If you wish it, I will marry you and protect and guide him until he is old enough.”
Sunset walked across the room to him. She took his hand and said “You of all men here in this room are the kindest I have met. You will help guide and protect my brother even if you are not the regent. But you are my cousin and I have watched you and the maid from across the river. You two love each other and should be together. For your kind offer I thank you, but I release you from it so that you and she will have a chance to live and love each other until you die. If I married you, none of would be as happy as we could be. My brother’s interests are better served in having you as a friend who is happy in his life.”
He bowed and said “Thank you. I promise I will help guide and protect Moonrise until he is ready.”
And so the council members, one after the other offered to marry her, and one by one they were rejected by her.
Until only the newest member of the council was left. His father was the oldest member. He had been married but his wife had died giving birth to their child and so he was once again eligible to marry. He looked at Sunset and said “Sunset, I am but a simple man compared to the other council members. My wife who I loved has died, leaving me but a shell of a man. I can only offer you my loyalty to your brother and the promise to treat you fairly.”
Sunset looked at him and realised she had found a second true man. So she said “I will marry you, and you and my cousin will be joint regents, looking after my father’s kingdom and my brother until he is ready to assume the crown.”
So he and Sunset married, and lived happily together, growing to love each other as neither of them had expected. They had children of their own, and their proudest day was when Moonrise was crowned king and they could leave running the kingdom to him. When Sunset died before her husband, he truly became a shell of a man, without her love and support, life seemed not worth living. He died of a broken heart.”
We sat in silence for a few minutes, and then Si looked at Sunset Two and said, “That sounds like your own story.”
Sunset Two smiled and said yes. Sunset was my second wife. Our favourite time of day together was to be quiet and watch the sun go down. When I became an angel I selected the colours I love the best, in her honour and my name became Sunset Two.
He stood and called out. A second angel came to us, and took his hand. Her hair was like the sunset; orange, her eyes as blue as the darkening sky.
They stood holding hands and she said, “You two have been working hard with many children, and the Most Senior Angel wanted us to come and share our evening peace with you now and then.”
After that we often joined them to share the evening peace with those who needed it. Sunset was, as her husband said, a wise woman.