Yeah, I know. It's Thursday. Whatever.
This is my take on Ali's weekly challenge. Here are the rules. The prompt, from Juanita's blog, is highlighted and links to said blog.
“I’m STILL waiting for my doll class.”
“My doll class. I’ve been waiting for it for ever so long.” The ragamuffin slumped between the craft store and tiny toyshop, her clothing reminiscent of a Dickens orphan.
The strip mall would close in just a few minutes. Certainly no doll class would be starting now. I scanned the window of the craft store for a class schedule, but found none. “Did your mother go into that store?” I pointed.
She shook her head. “My mother left me here ages ago, but she didn’t go into that store.”
“The toy store then?” I opened the door of the toyshop and strained to see. The lights were dim and no one was in sight. “Hello. Does anyone know this little girl?” I stepped back outside. “What’s your name, sweetie?”
Her head tilted down as if to hide her face. “It used to be Rebecca Louise. But then my mother started calling me Doody Head and Puke Face.”
Disgust for the woman who would do something like that to her own child filled me and almost choked off my next words. “I’m going to call someone to help you.” My cell phone blinked “no service” at me, and there was no sign of a security guard anywhere. “Stay right here, I’m going into the store to make a call.”
I dashed into the craft store. Maybe the horrible mother was inside it after all. At least that was the justification I gave for not just stepping back into the toyshop. The toyshop that felt off somehow.
There were no customers inside, and the woman behind the counter knew nothing about a doll-making class. After reporting the lost girl, I went back outside to wait with her for the police and, I suspected, social services. She wasn’t there. I tried the door of the toyshop, but it was locked. Panicked, I ran the length of the mall, stopping at each of the six other stores. Most were already closed, but the few people remaining had not seen the little girl.
An hour later, the police officer finally seemed satisfied with my statement. “Maybe her mother picked her up while you were calling,” he offered for the fifth or sixth time.
“Maybe.” It was as much as I could manage. I had been watching out the window the whole time I made the phone call. No one had passed the store. And I hadn’t seen the little girl, Rebecca Louise, walk away. But I had my own children to get home to.
“Thank you for your concern,” the office said. “Not everyone would take the time.” He closed his notepad and walked back to his squad car.
I leaned against the window of the toyshop, going over the event, trying to figure out when the girl’s mother could have retrieved her without my seeing it. The interior of the shop was brighter than it had been when I’d been inside. It looked more cheerful as well.
As I gathered my bags, a display near the back of the shop caught my attention. One doll pointed at a blackboard. Three other dolls sat at desks facing her. One had short marcelled hair and was dressed like a flapper. One looked like she’d just come from settling the old west. And the one closest to the door looked like, she looked like, well like Rebecca Louise.
I shifted to see what was written on the blackboard. The teacher pointed at, “How To Find A New Mommy.”