She was there. And then she wasn’t.
Ten seconds, and my world had changed, forever.
The horror. No words can explain it.
I shouldn’t have let go of her tiny hand. But she wanted a pink balloon.
She was right next to me. Her pink dress visible in the corner of my eye. I’m a mother, I’m supposed to have hawk-eyed vision. I must have blinked too hard, or maybe the balloon man stole too much of my attention.
When I turned and smiled, the balloon bobbing in my hand, there was only an empty space. No pink dress, no black curls, no baby girl of mine.
I froze, my breath caught in my mouth. And then I exhaled. I emptied my lungs and then filled them again, screaming her name as loud as I could.
I didn’t think of moving but my feet tore ahead. My blank mind had to keep up. My heart filled my throat as I shouted her name, over and over.
She had to be near, her tiny feet in her tiny, blue shoes, neither were used to wandering too far.
But something told me she wasn’t walking. She was being carried away, too swiftly for anyone to notice her scared face and teary eyes. All two-year-olds were known for throwing tantrums left and right.
The perfect ruse to steal an innocent child from her mother. A godless act that deserved the devil’s wrath. My raspy voice was dying.
Please God, let me find her.
I was running out of time. Everything a blur. I’d heard of miracles. When would I see one?
I saw pink. Behind the tree. I ran and tripped on an upturned root. My chin hit the ground.
I let go again. Just like her, the pink balloon floated away.