Dealing with Darkness

"Listen," Dan whispered into the darkness, "I don't know if I can do this." He stared into the dark, but couldn't make out more than the faintest impression of a face, curiously still as it spoke. The voice was a soft whisper, barely audible. "There's something you want, isn't there? That new account at work? It'd be nice to wow them. A pretty girlfriend? Long life? Or maybe just information. Would you like to know if your wife is cheating on you? Who'll win the next World Series? Any of them, yours, if you just keep my secret."

Dan swallowed. His whisper quavered. "There is... I do want something."

"Tell me."

"I want to be a great artist."

"Painter? Sculptor? Draughtsman? Poet?" The voice couldn't hide its hunger.

"Woodworker. Can you do it?"

A pause. "Yes. Tell her nothing." The impression of a face disappeared into the shadow.

Dan stood, straightening and stretching his back. "See, honey? Nothing."

His daughter looked up at him from her bed. "Why'd it take so long, Daddy?"

His smile was convincing. "Just making sure, my dear." He kissed her on the forehead, smoothed her comforter, and closed the door as he left the room.