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'A Mother's Plea' is based on a true story. Hold your young ones close and treasure what you have. Life can change in the blink of an eye...
"No!" Jenny said, gently pulling his tiny hands away from the door handle.
Tears streamed down her young son's face. "Go, go."
She placed the laundry basket on the steps and knelt down to her son's level. Michael threw his arms around her, burying his face in her hair. A twinge of guilt shot like an arrow through her heart, almost making her give in.
"Not this time, sweetie. You have to stay with daddy." She stroked his back to soothe him. "I'll be right back."
Jenny unhooked his hands from around her neck and stood up. "Honey, he's staying. I've got to go," she yelled. "Please watch him. He's unlocking the deadbolt.
"Okay," Aaron yelled back.
She could hear the screech of tires coming from the living room where he was playing a video game. Making sure that her son's hands weren't in the door, she pulled the door closed and locked the deadbolt. She picked up the laundry basket and walked towards the laundry room.
She threw the clothes in the wash, separating the colors from the whites. Once she turned on the machines, she left the building and started walking back home. When her house came into sight, she noticed that the door was open. Jenny's eyes widened and her throat constricted. Struggling to breathe and cradling her belly, she rushed towards the open door. Sharp pains radiated in her chest.
"Please, God, no," she prayed urgently. Missing children were on the news on a regular basis. What if the next one was hers? No, everything would be okay. He'd be there, safe and sound. He had to be. She couldn't live with herself otherwise. Darkness threatened to wash over her as she neared the door. In her heart of hearts, she knew he was gone.
"Michael," she called when she stepped in the door. "Where are you, Michael?" Jenny rushed into the living room where her husband was still playing a game. "Where's Michael?"
"Didn't he go with you?"
"No, I told you he was staying here," Jenny cried breathlessly.
"I didn't hear you," he argued. "I was playing a game."
"You said okay, for Pete sake," she snapped back. After taking a deep breath, she hurried up the stairs to check his room.
"Michael, where are you?" she called again. "If you're playing hide and seek, please come out. You win."
Silence was the only reply back. This couldn't be happening. He was only two years old.
She rubbed her sweaty hands on her black and red maternity dress and went back down the stairs. How could she have been so careless?
She never expected that she would be one of those parents. The type who would lose their child in a mall and have their names announced over the P.A system to pick their kid up at customer service.
"He's not upstairs either," Jenny said, fear threatening to engulf her. Each breath filled her with pain. Her stomach was contracting constantly and she feared for her unborn child's life.
"Let's search the grounds. If we don't find him, we'll come back and call the police," Aaron suggested. "He couldn't have gone far."
Jenny approached her neighbors who were relaxing on the lawn with their kids. "Did you see a little boy with blond hair, about this tall." She placed her hand just below her hip. "He was wearing blue pants and a green shirt."
"Yes, he went that way," a lady said, pointing towards the office.
Jenny wanted to yell at them, scream at them. What kind of people were they? What person in their right mind would let a two-year-old continue to walk by them with no supervision? Sure, maybe he wasn't their responsibility, but still. Whenever she noticed a young child on the street or in the store, without parents, she couldn't help but get involved.
However, yelling and screaming at these people wouldn't bring her son back. She looked ahead, straining her eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. She couldn't have been gone for more than 15-20 minutes. How could he have just disappeared without a trace already?
Then again, who was she kidding? A child could disappear within seconds, never to be seen of again. The hair on her arms stood on end, and the pains in her chest and stomach doubled at the thought. Sweat poured off her brow, plastering her bangs to her forehead.
Jenny saw a young girl next to the office. "Excuse me, you didn't see a young boy pass here a short bit ago, did you? Wearing blue pants and a green shirt?" she asked as calmly as she could.
The child's face scrunched up. And for a second, she thought the girl was going to say no. But to Jenny's great relief, the girl nodded her head.
"Oh, thank goodness. Do you know which way he went?"
The girl pointed to the road that led out of the complex. Jenny's heart dropped. If he left the complex, who knows where he would be now.
Why, oh why, didn't she take him with her? She knew he could open the deadbolt, but after the final time she locked it, she thought he had finally given up trying to go with her.
Just once she wanted to go do the laundry by herself. It was so much quicker when she went alone. If she'd lost him forever, she would never forgive herself. She moved toward the street, hoping beyond hope, that he would be within sight.
Jenny looked to the left, then to the right. There was still no sign of him. "My baby," she whispered, tears streaming down her face.
Nearly defeated, she looked up and saw her husband walking towards her. The frown on his face indicated that he had no better luck than she did. She looked down at her belly and then back down the road. Here I am about to have another baby and I lose my firstborn. The irony didn't escape her. She rushed towards them.
"We're going to go back to the house. If he doesn't come back soon, I'll phone the cops," he said.