Amongst the sweetest phrases I’ve ever heard from my mother’s lips are “I love you,” “I’ve made lemon meringue pie” (those two meaning, essentially, the same thing), and “Once upon a time.” All three still fill me with roughly the same degree of happiness, but I don’t hear that last one anymore. It’s not for lack of trying; I do keep asking.
“Tell me a story?”
“You’re forty-eight years old.”
“And you’re seventy-one, so tell me a story before you forget how!”
So far no luck. Come to think of it, the lemon meringues have been a bit thin on the ground, too. Hmmm.
Nevertheless, the thrill of “Once upon a time” never leaves me, never dims. It’s the story addict’s equivalent of a ringing bell and the response is equally Pavlovian. I know, when I hear those words, that I will be transported. That the ...