I Thought He Was With You

It was a welcome change to spend the day yesterday- NYE -out of the house. Many in the family have been sharing some sort of virus over the week between Christmas and January 1st. I will spare you the unpleasant details, but suffice to say, it wasn’t a respiratory virus to be sure.

Alison and I decided to do some antique browsing, something we haven’t done in quite some time. We both had actual items in mind to look for- mine a gift, and she was searching out picture frames. She had some beautiful photos of Snowflake printed that need frames.

In our area we have vintage stores, a few antique stores, but mostly large antique ‘malls’ as they are known around here. Huge old buildings that are divided up into stalls that vendors rent and fill with their treasures, or junk, or both. I’ve written about these places before and the feeling of overwhelming age, claustrophobia, and sometimes the genuine fear for your life when you enter them and begin to make your way into the deepest corners. We’ve come to realize just how imperative it is to map out exits before we get lost in browsing. Fire is always on our mind.

Alison and I hadn’t been looking for long when two things caught our attention. One, a youngish boy, probably about 7 or 8, darting in and around stalls. His parents were in the vicinity, each in their own areas searching for whatever treasures brought them into the store. The other, and for Alison a definite bright spot in her day, was the encounter with one of two store cats. We rounded a corner and there on an old carpet was a HUGE black long haired cat. Clearly very old, and having a hard time moving, he did manage to come over to her for some love, then as cats will do, went back to his spot on the carpet and laid down with his back turned.

She was fortunate enough to also have a personal encounter with the other black store cat later, who was on his way to a couch placed strategically in a front display window that likely got little customer traffic. Smart kitty.

We meandered, and browsed and as per our usual, found many items that we could daydream over. Always just around the corner was that family with the young boy. As we kept running into them it was becoming more and more apparent to us that the parents were finding it easier to be lost in their own heads dreaming of some perfect find while the young boy was getting more and more bored with spending his time among the antiques. He was also becoming more and more distracted and careless. We watched him darting here and there, touching and exploring while often holding our breath and waiting for a crash. Nearby, his parents were engrossed in everything but their kid.

Coming close to the end of our search we entered a stall and there again was the mom, heading toward dad who was a few stalls away. Clearly, a female voice was heard saying, “Where is ____? Isn’t he with you?”

“No, I thought he was with you!”

Thus began the loud calling of the child’s name, and the frantic darting of two parents who have lost their kid in a huge, messy, even dangerous old building that was surprisingly filled with many customers when you consider it was New Years Eve.

Now Alison and I had seen the boy minutes before this in some stall quite a ways away. We looked at each other, sort of nodded in unison because I think we both had anticipated this situation, and as I began to move in the direction I thought the parents had gone we heard clearly, “There you are! Where did you go?”

Alison and I turned and walked the other way, still shaking our heads. We weren’t surprised that within 20 minutes we came across the parents again, alone in separate stalls, no child in sight.

 

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