Once upon a time, in a land not far from this one, there lived a little boy. His favorite thing in the world was his body: a strange country, just like yours. One you could spend the days and years of your life mapping, journeying, and never without a strange new discovery. It was the chariot he rode. It was wonderfully and terribly made, and the songs it wrote upon itself were wordless. He knew he would never know it fully, not in a way you can say out loud, because those songs were songs that had no words. Sometimes it surprised him. The little boy had no parents to speak of, but it was a good life: right on the edge of the forest, where day becomes night and men become beasts. Where witches and wolves and worse dwelt, calling to him all day and all night: "Come and find out!"
The boy had a little sister, with a body of her own. The songs it sang were different, and none of his concern. He only knew, from the top of his beautiful head to the soles of his strong feet, that he must protect her. They lived in a wilderness, full of strange things under the moon and the sun, and there are a million ways you can hurt yourself if you don't have a map. There are valleys and shadows we walk into with our eyes open, following old instructions, hearing old songs calling across to us, saying, "Come and find out!" It is for men to protect their little sisters, their daughters and their wives, from songs like this. The little boy knew this as well as he knew anything. So he stayed close to home and he kept an eye on his sister, whose purity he shared. And if she went down, he knew, he would go down too.
One day, Death came to town. Just for a little visit, he said. And she was beautiful, and powerful, and the little boy knew he could explain all the secrets in this world. Even the secrets of the flesh. The language Death spoke had no words: It was a song about everything we don't have words for. Sex, and danger; running in the night with blood beating in your ears. Death was a welcome home, and Death was an invitation to the night. The little boy sat across the table from Death, and looked upon his beauty, and desired her: but this was one of those bad places he knew he shouldn't go. He could look on Death and smile, and he could pay tribute; he could give her a kindness and share a meal, but then it went no further. And the sun would come up, regular as clockwork, and the little boy and his sister would have breakfast together, and talk about anything but Death.
And then the little boy -- all the little boys -- figured out that the joke was on him: all the time he'd spent, guarding the door and listening at windows, and it turned out his sister had pulled a chair up to the table, and was eating gratefully with Death. Sharing little secrets he was too cowardly to know; singing songs of which he'd only heard bits and pieces in his dreams. His sister and Death were lovers, laughing behind their hands at him, sharing countryside and clearing that he would never know. His sister turned her face from the sun, and ran in the night, dancing under the moon, mad with desire. Her purity, and his: running red with blood. And the little boy knew a thing, and put that thing away: he wanted to make love to Death. He knew he would grow up then, and enter Death's kingdom, and would know those moonlight songs. And he wanted it so badly, but he was afraid. His body was an unknown kingdom, with secrets and shames he could only put into words. But he looked upon his sister, and Death, and he was ashamed.