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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1723310-Missing
by GShan9
Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #1723310
Young mother panics when her toddler comes up missing at the grocery store.

The young mother walked into the local “mom-pop” grocery store for some milk, bread, cheese, and diapers.    The city was bustling with activity as usual.  The stream of traffic out on the street in front of the store was heavy and steady, occasionally stopping for traffic lights, then moving on.  But it was always a never-ending parade of cars and people. 

Her 20-month old daughter was in tow with her.  Or to be more accurate, she had secured a harness on the little blonde girl with light, golden ringlet curls framing her face.  The little girl wore a cute little sailor dress outfit, complete with a wide collar in navy and white and white little shoes.  The harness was to keep her toddler from dashing out into the road and getting run over by a car or bus or truck.  Sometimes people would give her a look of disgust on the sidewalk as they observed that she held a leash attached to the harness to her precious little girl.  “She’s NOT a dog!” some indignant passerby would shout back toward her.  She ignored them.  She had chased her daughter once too often before she bought the leash and harness.  Ever since her precious little Patty could walk she turned everything into a footrace with her mother.  Once she almost ran out into heavy traffic, and thankfully, was spared her life.  Her mother was so shaken by the incident that she vowed to do something about preventing that from happening ever again.  “It’s better to have a LIVE child than a DEAD one,” she thought to herself every time somebody made a rude comment about their little leash and harness.

She walked up the bread aisle and grabbed a loaf of whole wheat bread.  She balanced her purse, and diaper bag on one arm, and the leash, and hand-held small grocery basket in the other.  The purse started to slip off her shoulder, so she adjusted everything, and switched arms.  She gripped the leash firmly.  They walked past the razors, shaving cream, soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, and turned at the end of the aisle heading toward the milk case.  When she finished finding everything on her short shopping list she went to the front of the store to the check-out desk near the door.  As she dug her wallet out of her purse she suddenly realized that her daughter was no longer attached to her tether at the end of her leash!  Panic gripped the mother’s heart!  “Patty!  Where are you, honey?  PATTY??!?!?!?  Patty!  Answer Mommy! “

The store clerk stood there with wide, startled eyes, the white’s of her eye was visible all the way around the iris.  “What’s wrong?”  She asked.

“My daughter, where is my daughter?  She was just here!  My Patty!  Where are you, honey?”  She held out her arm and the brown leather leash dangled freely at the other end.

“Let’s look for her!  What does she look like?” the clerk quickly asked.  The mother quickly said, “She’s 20-months old, blonde curly hair, wearing a sailor’s dress…” as she looked up through the front door of the store.  The traffic was bustling by only a few feet away.  She ran out onto the sidewalk and frantically called for her little daughter up and down the street, pacing this way and that, grabbing passersby by the wrists, pleading with desperation in her eyes, “Have you seen my daughter?”  People leaned away from her in fear of this wild-eyed, crazy woman.  Then it dawned on her that one of these strangers could have abducted her daughter.  A parent’s worse nightmare!  Her heart was about to leap out of her chest it was beating so wildly!

She ran back into the store.  She and the clerk, and two more clerks who had been standing nearby went up and down each aisle in the store looking for her, calling out her name.  One went to the back of the store where inventory is kept to look for her there.  Then the young mother and the first clerk returned to the original checkout desk near the front door.  A tiny foot stuck out from underneath the desk.  The mother bent down, and peered around underneath the corner of the counter. 

Underneath the counter, she saw her “missing” little girl … TOTALLY covered in SHAVING CREAM!  The can was almost empty!  “Oh, Patty!”  She scooped her up, shaving cream and all.  She hugged and kissed her, all over her face and head, squeezing her so tightly she almost slipped out of her loving grasp.  The little girl had figured out how to unhook the harness from the leash all by herself!

The store clerk said, in a relieved voice, “No charge for the shaving cream.  It’s on us.”  To which the mother replied, “No, I think it’s all over my little Patty Cake!”

“Yes, it’s DEFINITELY better to have a LIVE child than a DEAD one,” she thought to herself, covering her with kisses.

~ * The End *~

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