Then what?


One morning last week I watched and listened to a young mother recite from memory a story about a brilliant boy with golden wings . . . .

StoryTime was being held on a New York City subway train. The audience consisted of her two sons, ages 4 and 5, approximately, and the half dozen or so passengers around them — myself included. The woman fed her boys from the same breakfast bar, like a mother bird, as she also served them her story, in a very animated, theatrical way.

We rumbled along. The boys fidgeted. They shuffled their feet and poked at one another. Mother and sons stood around a pole in the center of the car. The little ones appeared distracted and bored by the story, but they were not. They were engaged; listened intently. I know this because whenever mother stopped, one of the boys would look up and call out, Then what?

And mother continued her story.

“The boy lost his wings and fell to earth . . . . he landed on a beach . . . . on his belly . . . . ”

I found myself listening along, and agreeing with what the older boy was now asking, once more before they got off at their subway stop.

Yes, yes but then what?