‘Mummy?’ Sophie asks, flinging our linked hands to and fro.
‘Yes?’ I answer mindlessly, strolling along the path hedged in by weather-beaten fences. Shouting pierces the atmosphere from a nearby house.
‘What is hope?’ she blurts out from under her purple bobble hat. She stares at the ground as she avoids the cracks.
Where did that come from? Four-year-olds might not have the strength to throw a boomerang across a field, but they can swing a heavy-loaded question no problem.
‘Why do you ask, darling?’
Her wispy blonde hair flies in front of her wide blue eyes. ‘The man on the TV said hope when you was watching it. About Coronavirus.’
An old man with a yellow waterproof limps toward us and we stand to the side by the fence to let him by. He nods with thanks, taking care to give us space.
‘Mummy! Look!’ Sophie tugs my hand.
‘What? What is it?’
You’d think she’d seen a unicorn. Down by her rainbow-striped trainer, is a bright splash of white against the cold, black earth.
‘That’s what hope is,’ I tell her, bending down to stroke the pearly buds.
‘A flower?’ She scrunches her button nose, and I laugh.
‘Hope is when something bright pokes its head out of something dark. Like these lovely snowdrops.’
‘I like hope.’ Sophie smiles.
‘So do I.’ We walk on down the path, and through the muddy woodland, the February sun dripping through the bare branches like liquid gold.
‘Mummy, when’s Daddy getting better?’
‘Soon, Sophie. Soon.’