Friday, March 18, 2011

I Lost Her

We had just had lunch with Z's godfather and the three of us, Blade, Z and myself, were going to kill some time at Wal-Mart before running downtown to meet up with another friend. It was 4 days until Christmas, and I had two gifts left to purchase.

As we entered the store, I gave the same lecture that I have given about 500 times. "If you want to stay out of the cart then you have to hold on to the side of the buggy. If you cannot, you will go in the cart." Dropping down lower so that they can both see the seriousness in my face and hear the tone of my voice, "Do you both understand?" Two little heads nodded up and down and they dutifully took a grasp of the side of the cart as I pushed it forward from the corral.

Just as we passed alongside the women's section and started to turn into the men's section, my cell phone rang. It was the friend we were going to be meeting up with so I answered the phone and shot a pointed finger in Z's direction as she started to walk away from the cart.

"Hey girl, have to run over to the mall, can you meet me there instead?", the cheery voice on the other end chimed.

The GPS in my mind churned as I tried to navigate through already narrow streets made narrower by Christmas shoppers and state employees let out of their respective cages for the holiday.

Z started to walk away again. A snap of my fingers, followed by a point and The Look brought her back quickly.

"Uh, yeah. I guess we can get over that way. It's gonna take us a little bit though, we are on the other side of town."

Blade starts banging the cart back forth hitting me against my hip. I rush through the rest of the call, so that we can get out of there. I scoop up my keys and sunglasses out of the cart. I call out to Blade to come on and then turn to tell Z that we are leaving.

She's not there. And for the first time in her life, she is not making a sound.

Just a second. A second for me to take my eyes off of her, a second to deal with something else, something not even very important. And she was gone.

I call her name. Nothing. I threaten to leave without her. Still nothing.

My heart starts racing. My hands are shaking uncontrollably. I start to shout. I grab Blade's hand, trying to seem in control of this situation. I start shoving aside clothes on the racks, still nothing.

I decided to head in the direction of the toy department. I know that I am making a scene. Everyone is staring, no one is helping. WHY ARE THEY JUST STANDING THERE? WHY IS NO ONE HELPING ME?

Everything around me is moving way too fast, I can't think, I can't do anything but scream her name and search. Suddenly, a mom in a track suit grabs my elbow. "Are you looking for a little girl with long curly hair?" I nod meekly. "Those employees over there are helping her hide underneath that rack. She is under all of those clothes."

I storm over to where the two employees are stationed, hanging merchandise. I see my daughter's foot. I know that I am holding Blade's hand so tight that I am hurting him. I pulll Z out of the pile as she laughs. As the employees laugh. LIKE IT WAS ALL SOME BIG JOKE.

I sling my child over my shoulder. I once again grab Blade's hand. I storm out of the store before the tears start. I get them both in the car.

And then I weep.

I once applied to work for Wal-Mart, part time, a long time ago. I was told that I was overqualified. I guess now I know why.


  1. Wow! Losing your child at the store is something you can't even describe! But to have the employees "help" her hide from you?! Oh no! That is not funny.
    I'm glad she was okay.


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