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Rated: E · Short Story · Emotional · #2039959
Every mothers worst nightmare.

My heart was thumping so fast I feared it would come through my chest. Kate came rushing towards me. I could tell by the look on her face she didn't have good news.

"I'm so sorry Maggie, I've looked everywhere. He's not here."

I was waiting at the door of our local do-it-yourself store. It was the only exit, so if he was still here he would have to pass me to get out. I couldn't believe this was happening. Josh was such a clingy little boy, he never left my side. We had only popped in for a couple of rolls of wallpaper.

I had left Kate to look after him, while I searched through the rolls of paper. He was sitting on the floor in the wallpaper isle, playing with his toy cars. When I couldn't find what I wanted I went to find a shop assistant. I was only gone for about five minutes, as the paper I wanted was out of stock.

As I was walking back to Kate, I could see she was chatting to Sally, a neighbour of ours. It was typical of Kate to find someone to talk to whenever we went shopping. As I approached them, I looked to the spot were Josh had been sitting.

He wasn't there.
"Kate ! " I shouted "Where is he?"

She looked up, a look of fear appearing on her face.

"Oh, Maggie, he was here a minute ago."
"Well, he's not here now."

I could hear the panic in my voice. I ran to the next isle. He couldn't have gone far. He was only twenty-months-old.

The shop wasn't very busy, so it didn't take me long to realise Josh wasn't there. I ran to the exit. The security guard assured me a toddler couldn't have passed him. I told a tearful Kate, to check everywhere again while I waited by the door.

It's every mother's worst nightmare, and it was happening to me.

Every child is special, but Josh was our little miracle. We tried for a baby for five years before he came along. We had almost given up hope of having a family of our own. Like any new dad Jack was delighted with his baby son.

Josh was advanced for his age. He was walking when he was ten-months-old. He started talking early, and now he chatted constantly. Much to our amusement he loved to tell everyone he met, his name and birthday.
My heart sank as I took in Kate's words. I almost felt sorry for her. She looked so devastated.

"Look Kate, if he's not here he must have wandered out of the store."

My voice sounded strangely calm. The patronising security guard, shook his head.

"As I said before love, the little chap couldn't have gone past me."

My cheeks were burning, as the anger built up in me. If he wasn't in the store, he obviously had gone past him.

"My little boy is missing, so if you don't mind, I will go outside and look for him."

"Kate, you wait here."

As I went through the door, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. If Josh had found his way out here, anything could have happened to him. We were in a retail park with several large stores surrounding a car park. I dashed between the cars,with tears spilling down my face.

A young woman with a little girl, stopped me.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

I wiped the tears from my eyes, as I tried to compose myself.

"My little boy is missing, he is only twenty months old. He has blonde curly hair, and, and, sorry" I took a deep breath.

" He is wearing a blue top and jeans. Have you seen him?"

"I'm sorry I haven't, but I'm sure he will be fine"

I knew she meant well, but she really didn't know he would be fine.

I didn't know what to do next. Should I phone Jack?

How could I tell him Josh was missing?

I was just about to get my phone out, when the woman I had spoken to came running towards me.

"I could be wrong," she said. "But I have just remembered, a bloke with a little boy with blond curly hair, passed me heading towards Asda. I don't know if it was your little boy, he was crying, but I assumed he was with his dad so I didn't take much notice."

I just looked at her, my throat was so dry I couldn't get any words out.

I ran towards Asda, the large supermarket I shopped in most weekends. All sorts of horrific thoughts were going round in my head. Who was this man who had my little boy? What was he planning on doing with him?

"Stop it, stop it" I told myself.

I somehow got myself to the store, as I went through the door I felt sick as it was busy and all I could see were parents and their toddlers, doing their shopping as if nothing was wrong. As I ran from Isle to Isle I kept seeing little boys who looked just like my Josh.

My heart was beating like a drum in my chest, I felt as if I was going to faint. When suddenly I stopped in my tracks as I heard a voice coming over the tanoy.

"Would the parents of a little boy called Josh, who will be two in July, please come and collect him from the information desk."

I felt I was coming out of a nightmare as I ran to the desk. Sitting there with a chocolate bar in his hand, looking quite pleased with himself, was my little boy.

When he spotted me he shouted, "Mummy, I got lost. I was looking for you."

I swept him up in my arms, "Oh, I know baby, what a brave little boy you are".

As I calmed down, I started to question how he got here. I was about to ask the young girl on the desk, when a tall, cheerful, looking man approached me.

"Excuse me" he said, as he gave Josh a big grin. I am glad Josh has found his mum."

He explained, he had found Josh in the car park. "He was quite upset, so I didn't know where he had come from. Asda seemed the most obvious choice." He said.

He was just a normal bloke, not the evil, child molester I was imagining. "Thank you doesn't seem enough" I said.

"No worries, he's a bright little boy. He calmed down once we gave him a chocolate bar. Not many little ones would tell you their name, and the month they were born." He laughed.

I hugged Josh closer to me. I still couldn't believe he was safe.

"Yes he is a clever little boy, and I will never let him out of my sight again."

I could feel the tears welling up again.This time with relief.

"Don't be too hard on yourself, these things happen. The little chap is fine."

As we said our goodbyes, I suddenly remembered Kate was waiting at the store. She would be frantic thinking she was to blame.

Poor Kate, it wasn't her fault, Josh was my little boy and my responsibility.

"Lets go Josh, Aunty Kate will be waiting for us."

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