A little girl with twinkling blue eyes stared upwards at the orange and yellow streaked sky in wonder. The sun was beginning to set, and a cool breeze brushed past the girl’s pink checks and nose.
“I’m coming. Just getting the blanket and biscuits.”
The girl pulled herself up onto a wooden deck chair. From there she could see beyond their house and garden, down the steep hill to a large valley, the perfect view. Watching the sunset with her mother was her favourite time of day. So much so that earlier that day they decided to make chocolate chip biscuits to munch on while they waited for nightfall.
A few moments later her mother stepped through the doorway, holding a plate of biscuits with a blanket tucked under her armpit. After placing the plate of treats onto a stool, her mother sat down next to her and wrapped both of them up in the big woolly blanket. She passed her a biscuit. With a grin, the girl bit into the biscuit and tasted the lovely sweetness of the chocolate. Her mother leaned forward to get herself one too.
As they ate the biscuits the girl thought of a question. “Mum?”
“What is love?”
There was silence and the girl became impatient as her mother continued looking at the sunset. Tiny stars had begun to shine in the wave of dark blue that was slowly sweeping onwards. Pulling her hand from warmness of the blanket, she playfully poked her mother in her cheek.
“What is love, Mummy?”
“Hmm. What do you think?”
The girl pouted. “I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you.” Her mother let out a small giggle and looked down at her with her soft olive eyes.
“Love is a feeling.”
“What type of feeling?”
“It’s a feeling that can fill you with immense joy, or great pain.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Love is a tricky little thing. The more open our hearts are, the more love we feel, but it can also open to hurt. Sometimes if something bad happens to someone, they become sad and heartbroken.”
“That’s so sad. I don’t want to be heartbroken, Mummy.”
“Don’t worry, I will always be there for you.”
“What else is love?”
“Love is a special bond. It’s what connects people. Like us, I’ll love you forever. I would do anything to make sure you were happy and safe, and so would your father.
“How much do you love me?”
The girl’s eyes widened as her mother spread her arms out as far as they could go. “Wow that’s a lot.”
Her mother nodded and gave the girl a big hug.
The little girl pulled the soft blanket up over her shoulders. “Can love feel like spring?”
“It can. It bursts through you just as a seedling bursts through the ground.”
“Does Michael love me?”
Her mother smiled. “Of course, he does. He’s your big brother why wouldn’t he?”
“He takes my toys.”
“Brothers do that.”
“They need to stop doing that,” the girl said, frowning a little.
“My brothers used to take my things too. They would hide them from me and I’d have to go looking for them.”
The girl’s mouth gaped open. “Did you find them?”
“Eventually, but the ones I couldn’t find my brothers would give back.”
A loud crash sounded, and the girl saw Midnight dart between the deck chairs, chasing a mouse. Every time the mouse did a sharp turn the cat knocked into a chair leg. One chair was already overturned.
“I think our cat loves to get mice.”
“I think so too,” her mother replied.
The girl pointed to an owl flying overhead. “Owls love flying, right?”
Standing up, her mother pulled the blanket off her. “Hey, what are you doing?”
“It’s time for bed.”
“Aww,” the little girl complained, “I still want to look at the stars.”
“There’s always tomorrow.” The mother held out her hand. “Come on.”
The girl huffed. “Fine.” She took her mother’s hand and stood up.
The mother grabbed the plate with her other hand and together they walked back inside.
“Can you say the words now?” the girl asked, snuggling into the warm side of her mother’s body.
“Okay, honey. How much do I love you?”
“Too much to measure.”
“And how long will I love you?”
“For ever and ever your baby I’ll be.”