....from across the street of our own home. This stuff doesn't really happen does it?
We all get home from school and work. Just like clockwork the door bell rings. I look at my husband with a raised eyebrow, he glares at me, I giggle and get up to get the door - already knowing who is on the other side.
Big girl is practicing her flute in her room, little girl is finishing her spelling word practice, I had just sat down for the third time to work on the playbill for the next play and husband just came down stairs from changing out of his suit.
I go to the door to find one of the boys from across the street, as I expected, but he didn't ask for our little girl, instead he asked for another neighbor boy. We're not done with homework, so we haven't been outside to play yet and nor have we seen the other neighbor boy. Then, as expected, he politely asked how much longer she would be until she could go out to play. I remember hearing the ice cream truck and hoping little girl didn't notice it too. Too late, she came running..."Can we get ice cream? Can we get ice cream? Please, please?" I take a deep breath while having a flashback of two really, really extremely hyper girls staying up wired and giggly past ten o clock the last time we got ice cream on a school night. I shuttered and answered firmly, "No." She tells the boy she'll be done and out in five minutes. To me, "Are you sure...." "She'll be out in five minutes." I repeated towards him and ignoring her question.
I didn't think twice about why the other boy wouldn't be outside. I figured he'd be around here somewhere. I did notice him mom's SUV in the driveway and still didn't think anything of why the boy, Austin, would ask us where the other boy was.
Brayden is just one of those kids that you have the feeling his mom invests in Calgon and and scented lavender candles in hopes of little boy induced stress. That boy just looks like trouble. Without saying a word, you look at him and he looks like trouble. Cute kid with a quick wit, but probably a handful.
Door shut and we're back to homework,cleaning up and discussing school. Flute sounds practicing scales for a test this week can still be heard from upstairs. Not too much longer, we're done with homework and have put away our back pack and have hit the door running with dog not far behind.
I sit down, once again to work on that playbill. I have a deadline that I want to beat ahead of time for once. Just once I'm not going to be rushed and stressed trying to get it to the printer at the last minute. With a deep breath, I sit in my chair, put the lap top in my lap and put my feet up. She hasn't been outside more than five minutes and I hear the door being thrown wildly open by the little girl and I'm ready to hollar at her for that door. Before I got a chance to say a word she announces that the Brayden boy is missing. I exchange a doubtful, yet unsure glance with my husband and get up once more and go to the door. If I automatically dismissed what she said, I'd regret it later if it were the truth. Outside, I see two police cars across the street and right in front of our house. A chill goes right through my body and stirs at my stomach. I'm now scared of the chips and dip in my stomach that suddenly warn me things can go bad. Really bad.
Seeing the cop cars and adults outside, I had a flashback to a couple of bad calls from my EMS days. I swallow back something you don't want me to describe. It wasn't good. "There really is two cop cars outside." My husband gets up slowly, as if they will all disappear and go away before if he approaches the door carefully. We could hear a helicopter overhead extremely near and I announced to him that they must have a chopper out looking. He promises there is no way the helicopter could be looking for the boy already.
Together we go outside and take a couple of moments to access the scene in front of us. Both mothers from the houses across the street from us are outside with more kids and three other moms. The boy, Austin, comes back over to fill us in with quick facts. "He's gone and his scooter and bike are both in his garage." Hubbie and I both knew this couldn't be good. We've had a bet going on lately on how long it would be before that little kid got hit by a car on that scooter or the bike. He was constantly going across the street from driveway to driveway and "falling over" dramatically in front of any cute looking gal in hopes for attention. Like I said, trouble maker.
I went across to the circle of worried faces of mother's carrying one of my own on my face. I knew the right thing to do would be to see if we had any information to offer and if we could do anything to help. Honestly, I really wanted to direct my little family back inside and away from this entire situation and keep them safely under my watchful eye and pretend nothing was going on so we could all continue to argue over needless things like hairbrushes, clothes, turns on the wii and our family pets.
I know the boy is still just missing because of all the questions being asked and the worried looks. There wasn't any screams of "Why?" or big tearful broken hearted motherly tamptrums, so I got brave and wandered over. I offered what little information I knew of based upon questioning my own daughter. Brayden was on the bus home and made it home. Austin informed us that Brayden had finished his homework and had been outside already and then disappeared. While Brayden's mom went through a series of questions with two officers, another police officer checked her home. A neighbor girl with the loudest voice ever, told me that two cops had already been inside to check all the cabinets and under the beds. "Why do they have to have another one check?" "I know he's been taken!" "He's gone, he's gone!"
I couldn't stand there anymore. I looked down at my dauaghter and realized that she knew this wasn't a joke and realized that these "worried" mom's might have reason to worry. I looked toward my husband and could see the worry and grief was about to over flow out of his eyes. We had to do something. The mom wandered off to get the ...... her voice trailed as she walked back in the house, but every mother in that circle nodded and knew she was going to get the school made ID card and probably that envelope of sample DNA. Spiked gelled blonde hair was part of the description of the boy that was passed around to other neighbors offering to look for him.
I turned to the neighbor and said we'll walk or drive around and look. My husband agreed while both girls conspired of ways to split up and cover more ground. I was silently petrified of what we would soon learn... that feeling I didn't describe earlier was coming back again and this time a little stronger. Probably a little too sternly I advised we would be going together in one car. Normally I automatically hand the car keys to my husband, but I hopped in the driver's seat and we left. For just a second, I almost reached down the seat to my left for that battery switch....but stopped myself knowing this wasn't that ole' diesel box truck.
It took three blocks until I actually heard the dinging of the seatbelt that I forgot to put on. Calm down. Stay calm. We realized pretty quickly that we were not alone. We recgonized other concerned faces around the three to four block area looking for the same little boy we were. Cars driving slowly with windows down calling out the same name of the wild little boy we were hoping to spot, too. We stopped and questioned poeple that were walking with confused looks on their faces or if they seemed oblivious to what was going on around them. The neighborhood normally wasn't this active at this time in the afternoon and we could see an occasional police officer around the area - but not five, six...seven? and a helicopter in the same two-three block radius. I wouldn't be surprised to see news trucks.
This just seemed like one of those scenes from a Lifetime made for TV movie. This didn't happen in real life, right? The news would mention things like this or an out of state paper would mention a name of a child with an age near our own - but it still didn't really feel like a real situation.
So, around and around the closet blocks we went passing other neighbors with exchanged, sad, shakes of the head that said he hadn't been found yet.
We discussed different scenerios of what could have happened...the sand volleyball courts, the playground, the soccerball field had probably all been checked ten times already, but maybe we would spot him there, or on his way back home taking a different route. This neighborhood wasn't north, south, east and west streets. It twisted, turned, dead ended and wound around in circles. For a kid not normally allowed to leave his own block before - he could easily lose his way. Sheesh, I did last night trying to take a short cut home from Target to get out from behind Grandma and Grandpa on the Sunday drive. Somehow I wound up several blocks away from our street and not knowing how I made it to where I did. Brayden could easily be skipping along not knowing he was lost yet much less that he was considered missing. Or another possibility, doesn't it take just one boy to dare another? One could say he'd walked all the way to the creek across the busy road before and the other could say, "Oh yea...well I've been all the way to Such and Such street two blocks away from the creek..."
So, let's head to the creek. On the way, we round the curve to our house and see a group laughing on the corner. Little daughter asks if we should stop and ask/inform them...except they are two houses away from Brayden's house. How could they NOT know? We go to turn the corner and a dad offers out that Brayden has been found. We stop, and two cars behind us also stop, all of us very happy to hear the news. Relief felt great.
Still dazed we pulled on our street as Brayden's mom gives us a relieved smile along with the two neighbor cars behind us. We all pull in to our drive ways, get out of our cars, to hear a chubby, happy officer lecturing a small crowd of children on why it's so important to always "let the adults in your care" know where you are at during all times of your day. Brayden's mom smiles tearfully and nods in our direction. I nod back and bite back my own tears.
Brayden was absolutely clueless the nightmare scenerios we were all thinking. Thankfully, so were our kids and a few others.
Inside and after settling the arugment with the girls on why they had to play in the back yard this time..."because I said so", the husband and I exchange a hug and kiss knowing everything is once again ok and knowing it can all change in the blink of an eye.
He's says, "If something were to happen, it would be unthinkabley horrible for his family, but here...." he glances toward the sound of screams on the trampoline in the back. I didn't let him finish, "I know! I would turn insane. They think I'm mean and crazy now!"
Brayden met a friend at school and learned that this friend lived on his block...the block that he was told he could ride around by himself as long as he didn't cross the street. His parents didn't get technical with the rule to include...and that doesn't mean you can go in any house on that block.
Thankfully, we're going to bed tonight and tucking our sweet children into bed. Their safe where they should be."