“I’ll just feed her.”
“There’s poo on the bag, bird poo, look.”
We scramble for the wet wipes and try to placate your hungry, shouting sister. Pointless really. She shouts louder.
“Where’s the boy?”
We look around us. Children are playing. Parents are chatting.
You’re not there.
Children shout. They laugh. It’s just noise. It may as well be silence.
Your Dad starts running.
I throw your sister in the pram and do the same.
You still don’t answer.
This is real.
The panic starts in my stomach and within seconds fills my mouth.
Why are they all still playing?
One mother catches my eye. She sees the fear. “WILLIAM.”, she screams. I want to tell her no. He won’t come to you. He needs me. His Mum.
Who lost him.
Your Dad reappears.
He stares at me for a moment.
He starts to run for the exit.
No need for words.
We both know it.
Someone has taken you.
We can’t let them get away.
In that moment I know that he would give his life for you.
I know that I would.
I want to fall to my knees but the fear drags me forwards.
I scream your name.
The whole world spins.
How can they be laughing?
Everywhere I turn…you are not there.
I hear screaming. Loud. Gutteral.
It takes a moment before I realise it is coming from me.
“He’s here. I found him.”
I want to fall to my knees. I stumble forwards. The pram holds me up.
I can hear my heart beating.
I want to grab you. Hug you. Scream at you.
You climb the slide.
I phone your Dad.
Your Dad returns. He looks older somehow.
We can’t speak.
We can’t look at each other.
Hours later. We watch TV. You are safe in your bed. Asleep. And then the tears come.
Your Dad holds me.
Only he will ever understand the place that they come from.
The fear that releases them.
And they don’t stop.
I fear they never will.
For two minutes you were lost.
I am reliving those two minutes again.
You have no idea.
I pray you never will.
The tears still come.