Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Houdini

Through a haze, she heard the bell ring. Expecting a parcel, she figured they'd just leave it on the step and rolled back over. A second ticked by, then two. Sleep was now elusive. Easing out of the bed so as not to wake the sleeping three year old, she tiptoed to the window. No delivery truck in sight. The laughter of children floated up from the street, a warm breeze fluttered the curtains.

The clock showed that less than 45 minutes had passed. She heard a voice from downstairs - had the 5 year old opened the door? The door alarm hadn't beeped, the screen door hadn't shrieked. Why was he down there, anyway? He was to be colouring or reading in his room. It was quiet time, that was the rule. Walking quickly, but clumsily, brushing sleep from her eyes, she pulled open the unlocked baby gate at the top of the stairs and went down.

He had let someone in! And they'd gotten so far as the kitchen, with the dirty dishes everywhere. How had that happened. A woman was calling hello. Rubber boots and a pair of natty old mittens on a string were cast off in the middle of the floor, amidst dish towels and scraps of paper.

"My name is Michelle. I live on the next street. I found this little boy walking by my house."

She sat down with a hard thump onto the kitchen stool and hugged him tightly, eyes wide. There were several conversations happening at once but the main focus was there, in her arms. Words were exchanged, images painted, exclamations made. Complete disbelief.

Michelle let herself out of the back door, through the gate, into the driveway and on with her day.

Alternating between a crushing hug, tears and admonishments, the story came out. He was bored reading. He didn't know where she was. At yoga? Had he gone looking for her? Maybe. He just wanted to go for a walk around the block. (Again) In costume. The front door was locked and so was the back door, but he opened it. But don't worry, he hadn't crossed any streets. He stopped when the lady backed out of her driveway. He led her back to his house, the long way around. He wouldn't do it again, not until he was at least 8 or 9.

There was praise for being smart enough to find his way home, to be safe, to stay on the sidewalk. And wetly whispered fears that she might have lost him forever. Reminders of never, ever going out without a parent, not even to the backyard without telling a parent.

And once alone, she shuddered and sobbed, breath coming in tight bursts, because it really can be that quick, that easy, that fragile.

She will never nap again.

8 comments:

letmestartbysaying said...

So scary.
This is absolutely something I worry about. I have the alarm chimes when doors are opened, but still.
I'm glad he came back ok.

Mel said...

Absolutely terrifying! These little kiddos have no idea what the put us through. Thank heavens for the kindness of strangers!

maryannsteiner said...

I am glad your son found his way back home and that a nice person helped him. That is too bad that you will have to give up your naptime. I used to nap on the sofa with all the children playing around me! It worked out all right.

This is a very nicely written post! You kept it mysterious at the beginning so that I wanted to keep reading!

shah wharton said...

Terrifying. Thanks goodness for the outcome. X
Here from the linky ;D

I wanted to share with you that there's a new writing challenge/linky in town. Every weekend I'll share a PROMPT and every Wednesday everyone can link up there (poem or short story 500 max) response at the Storyteller Linky. This week’s prompt is a Picture. Check it out. :)
I also have a spooky book review and the weekend blog hop right now too! http://wordsinsync.blogspot.com/2011/10/halloween-book-review-voice-of-blood-by.html
Love to have you on bored, but have a great weekend either way. Shah .X

Nora B. Peevy said...

Over from Write on Edge this weekend. You write beautifully. I enjoyed your post, though understand how afraid you were. I used to sleepwalk as a young teen. I can only imagine how stressed my parents were realizing the front door was unlocked on more than one occasion.

-Nora
http://norabpeevy.blogspot.com/

NC Narrator said...

Oh I have been there, and share the terror!

For me it was my youngest. He was three. Put him down for a nap, made sure he was asleep and then put his 5 yo brother in the bathtub. About twenty minutes later there's a knock on the door. I pull the oldest out of the tub and answer the door. Standing there is a cop, with my son...in his diaper...in November...in Wyoming...with four inches of snow on the ground. At the end of our street was a busy 4-lane road. Heart attack!

He's sixteen now. We both survived, at least we have so far! LOL

Rainyday said...

Thanks, everyone. It was a terrifying eye-opener, that's for sure. I tried to write about it in the fist person but I was too emotional.

Thank you for sharing your own stories, and for visiting my blog!

idiosyncraticeye said...

Heart stopping, thank goodness for wonderful strangers! :)

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