Jayden sang the whole car ride to Pick N’ Save, “I’m going with Mommy! I’m going with Mommy!” When I finally parked and turned around to glare at him, he stopped. I got out of the car, unclipped Jayden from his car seat, and picked him up.
“Mommy, let me down. Let me walk,” he said.
“Aunt Veda,” I said. I let him down and took his sticky hand as we walked up to the automatic doors, “Please be good,” I said down to him.
I let go of Jayden’s hand to grab a cart and we walked in heading towards the fresh produce. I made a mental list of everything I needed for dinner. I already had chicken, pasta, bread rolls, and sparkling cider. What was it I needed to get? I stopped in front of the shelves of produce. I could get apples and make a pie, or perhaps bananas for a mousse? I turned around to pick up Jayden and put him in the cart seat, but the only thing beside me was an elderly woman picking up some lumpy peaches.
“Jayden?” I said looking around to the other side of the aisle, “Jayden, where are you?”
“Miss?” said the elderly woman, setting down a peach, “Is everything alright?”
“My nephew,” I said still looking around, “ I turned around for just a minute. It was just a minute. Now he’s gone. I only had my eyes off him for a minute. Where could he have gone? He’s just a toddler.” My stomach started twisting as I thought of the worst possibilities, what if someone kidnapped him, what if he ran away. Ron would never forgive me.
“Calm down, miss,” said the elderly woman as she patted my shoulder softly, “We’ll find him. Toddlers get distracted and wander off sometimes, you just have to be watchful of them.”
The woman and I were pacing up and down the aisles together when the intercom speakers suddenly came on, “Could the party of Jayden please come to the front of the store?”
“Oh! That’s me!” I said.
“Good,” smiled the woman, “You take care of your little tyke. Enjoy him while he’s still little, they grow up too fast.” She turned away and went back to looking for peaches.
I walked up to the front help desk, to see Jayden smiling and holding the hand of a young store clerk.
“Mommy!” he said, jumping and tugging at the hand of the clerk.
“Jayden, honey, you can’t scare me like that,” I said bending down to his level, “ I thought I’d lost you.”
“He was standing in front of the bakery display,” said the clerk laughing, “He really wanted one of those big cupcakes with a ton of frosting on top.”
“Yeah, cupcake!” said Jayden clapping.
“And since we’ve found Mommy, if you promise not to walk away anymore, I can give you this,” said the clerk smiling and holding out a large chocolate cupcake with lime green frosting.
I frowned at the clerk, but Jayden was ecstatic. He licked his lips and hugged the clerk.
“This one’s on me,” the clerk whispered to me and winked.
“Oh,” I said blushing, “Well, we’d better be going. My husband will be worried where we are.”
“Oh, have a nice day then, miss, thanks for using Pick N’ Save,” said the clerk.
I nodded, picked Jayden up, and walked out to my car. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t bear to finish shopping. I couldn’t believe that I had let Jayden wander away like that. I told him he shouldn’t walk off anymore as I strapped his car seat and took his cupcake away for the drive home.
- Excerpt #1, from my short story, Mommy (amandareimer.wordpress.com)
- Excerpt #3, from my short story, Mommy (amandareimer.wordpress.com)