“Missing”

Photo credit: taylorschlades from morguefile.com

“Where is Dominick? Has anyone seen Dominick?” Kim’s panicked voice rose with each syllable. Frantic, she searched room to room throughout the huge rental for the missing four-year-old. It was barely dawn on the coast of the crisp Pacific Ocean.

The Clausen family rented a three-story furnished house with a beautiful view a block from the ocean for their annual family reunion. Sleeping quarters were tight for 25 people, no matter how many camped out on the floor. Dominick’s single mother, Jen, decided to spend the night elsewhere. She knew her kids would be safe with the cousins and adult relatives staying in the house for the night. Her Aunt Kim assured her they would be fine and not even miss her.

Uncle Jeff, still groggy from sleep, rose from the couch to rattle the front door. “The door isn’t even locked. You did lock this door last night, didn’t you, Kim?”

“Of course I did! There are eight children in this house! I promised Jen her kids would be safe!” Kim moaned. “Lissy, does your little brother know how to unlock a door?”

Lissy nodded yes as she stuffed more jam and toast into her mouth, “but he can just barely reach the knob.”

Kim barked orders quickly as she pointed to several adults. “Jeff, go search the beach. Joe, scan the neighborhood, and I will go towards town. Sis, you stay here with the other children.” Kim’s stomach was in knots. How could this happen?

Awakening way before dawn, the toddler got up to find his mother. When he couldn’t find her in the house, he worried she was lost. I have to find my mom. Though small, he managed to reach up and flip the lock on the door. The ocean breeze felt cool on his face, the sidewalk cold to his bare feet, but the California air was warm in July. Dominick looked at the black sky in wonder. Look at all the twinkling lights! He paused for a minute, and then started walking down the street.

There was barely enough light to see, but Joe didn’t find any tiny footprints in the sand. He circled back and saw Jeff coming around the corner.

“Anything?”

“Nothing. No one is up to even notice if a little boy is wandering the streets.”

Dominick stopped and waited at the curb as a blue car slowed to a stop beside him.

An old man rolled down his window. “Are you lost, little guy?”

Dominick looked at the man and shook his head. He looks nice, he thought.

“Where do you live?”

“Far away. I’m looking for my mom, she’s lost.”

“What is your mom’s name?”

“Mom.”

“What’s your name?”

“Dominick.”

The old man looked up and down the street and saw no one stirring. The sun was beginning to rise. He opened the car door and motioned for the boy to get in.

“Jump in Dominick. I will help you find your mom.”

He doesn’t look scary. Maybe he can help, thought Dom. So he got in, catching his blanket in the door.

Kim was beside herself with worry. What will I tell Jen? How could I let this happen? Why didn’t I check on the kids? I promised her they would be fine, now Dominick is missing! I will never forgive myself if something bad has happened.

Kim banged on doors of every house toward town, waking people to ask if they had seen Dominick. No one had. She kept looking, calling out Dom’s name until she spotted a crumpled, torn and dirty blanket in the grass. She ran to it, praying Dominick wasn’t under it. Yanking it up, she breathed a sigh of relief. She clutched the blanket to her breast, and sobbed. Where could he be? Her phone rang in her pocket, giving her a jolt.

“Come back, Kim. Quick! Jen is here,” Kim’s sister clipped each word short.

“What’s going on, Chris?” Kim asked between sobs.

“Just get here.”

Something bad? Kim worried all the way as she half-jogged the four blocks back. What happened she couldn’t tell me on the phone?

Nearing the rental, she saw a strange blue car parked in front. She took a deep breath and bounded into the house. Surprised, she heard happy chatter and laughing from the kids. The she saw Dominick laughing, sitting on his mom’s lap.

“He’s back, Kim! The lost has been found!” Christy shouted over the din.

“But… How? Dominick, where were you?”

“Looking for Mom. She was lost, but he helped me find her,” he pointed towards the old man.

The old man stood alone by the door, smiling, calmly taking in the scene. “Actually, he was the one who found her,” he said. “I just gave him a ride.” He grinned at Dominick.

“But how did you know to bring him here? I found his blanket four blocks away!” questioned Kim.

“That is the strangest part. Quite a miracle, I would say. The little guy showed me the way. He knew all along where he was. He pointed out the streets and told me where to turn. He remembered the way he came. Simply amazing,” he mused, and then chuckled. “Must have had a guardian angel.”

Jen hugged her little boy tightly. “I think you had quite a few angels busy this morning!”

Dominick hugged his mom in return and grinned at the old man over her shoulder. “But that one helped me find you!” His eyes lit up as he saw his rescuer wink at him. Jen turned to thank him, but no one was there.

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