It was impossible to keep Albert anywhere. He had unusually long and slender fingers for his two years. By sixteen months, he was climbing out over the side of his crib so often that they’d bought a second mattress to at least cushion the inevitable fall. And then they’d had to start unpacking the diapers from their package after he’d learned that he could use the tightly packaged diapers to reach the doorknob. Once he’d found stuffed animals could be stacked just tall enough, they’d resorted to a bolt on the outside of his bedroom door, and this, at least, had kept him in his room. But Eileen hadn’t long been able to withstand the idea of locking up her son, and soon for a while all hope of constraining Albert had to be suspended.
So maybe it shouldn’t have come as any surprise when they got the call that Albert had left class, that they’d searched the school but not found him.
But if not a surprise, it was still a nightmare come real.
It was the reason that they had always worried about being unable to keep him anywhere. It was the culmination of all of their earlier failures.
And it was terrible.
It broke her.
And finding him at home, sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of Corn Flakes in front of him, did not mend the brokenness inside of her, though she held him as if she would crush the pieces back together and cried as if her tears could bind the brokenness together like glue.
A part of her stayed broken when they sent him back to school the following day.
That brokenness followed her all day like a shadow. It whispered in her mind what she had not been able to do, had never been able to do, never would be able to do.
It was the piece that began the unraveling.
Mine was the stolen line this week. And it took me in all kinds of weird directions. Where is the cute story of rambunctious toddlers that I’d planned? Ah well. Writing, everyone. Also, I’d like to state that this comes from a childless woman who isn’t even sure she wants any sprouts running about her feet. So, maybe when someone closer to me has kids, I’ll figure out that my ages are all wrong. Maybe I’ll learn that I’ve made grave, life-threatening mistakes in trying to corral this fictional wee one, but just… pretend I know what I’m doing… for the five minutes it takes you to read this story, and no that no children are endangered by my poor parenting.
Check back for more. I’ll post links as they appear.