Long, long ago, in a land far, far away I entered a crowded lift, the hand of my four year old daughter clutched tightly in mine.
The only sound was the shuffle of feet and rustle of clothing as room was made to accommodate us. Eyes turned modestly downwards or reaching for unseen horizons the silent occupants waited as the lift doors swooshed shut and with a shudder we began our ascent.
Almost immediately the uncomfortable silence was broken by the piping voice of the four year old. Tugging on my hand she inquired intensely ‘Mummy, where do babies come from?”
The silence became focused. An unseen arrow of interest aimed straight at me, waiting for the answer to the unexpected question.
Instantly I became an internal jangle of question marks and exclamation points –
What? Why Now?? Really, already?? Oh God, what do I say here??
Pretending serenity, I bent towards my daughter, intending to say “Let’s talk about this later” but what came out instead was: “Where do you think you came from?”
The focused interest whispered towards the dark haired girl looking up at me. She turned her eyes down, frowned slightly and was quiet for a moment. The focus held its collective breath.
Then she smiled and responded clearly.
‘Starlight.” She smiled up proudly at me and as I stared silently back, the focused silence curled back on itself and settled with the smallest of sighs into the eyes and mouths of the inhabitants of the lift.
The lift juddered and stopped and the swoosh of the door opening returned us to the world. As we jostled aside to let some occupants out, an elderly gentleman ruffled my child’s hair and beamed down at her. “Starlight, indeed” he chuckled, “And you are an angel!”
I met my child that day in the lift.