Dorcas was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t notice that the drums next door had stopped. She closed her eyes, looking forward to at least another hour of sleep. She was just about to drift off when her bedroom door opened.
Her child-minder, Veronica, came rushing into the room. She stood over Dorcas’s bed. Dorcas sat up startled, and looked at her. She did not know what to think. Veronica was crying and shouting something garbled and shaking her hands in front of her.
Something was terribly wrong. Dorcas’ heart was hammering in her chest.
“Slow down a moment, please Veronica. I can’t understand a word you’re saying.”
“It’s Leon, Dorcas. He’s gone. He just disappeared!” Veronica began crying even louder than before.
Dorcas gasped. “He can’t have just disappeared.” She tried her hardest to stay calm. “Tell me exactly what happened.”
Veronica took a deep breath. “I left him playing with his Lego in the kitchen when I went into the yard to hang out the washing. I could hear him making sounds with the Lego. I was only gone for about five minutes but when I came back inside Leon was not in the kitchen.”
“Maybe he’s hiding. You know how he likes to play hide and seek. He just wants us to find him,” Dorcas said, running out of her bedroom. “We’ve got to find him.”
“I’ve looked all over the house,” Veronica said, wringing one hand over the other. “He’s nowhere to be found. I can’t think of anywhere else to look.” Veronica slumped down on the floor and began sobbing.”
“Veronica, please stop,” said Dorcas and ran to where Veronica lay on the floor. She knew she had to be firm with her child-minder. “We’re not going to find Leon this way. He can’t have got very far. Perhaps he’s found a new hiding place.”
Veronica nodded her head several times. Then she wiped her eyes with a corner of her blouse.
“I’m sorry Dorcas. It’s just that I don’t know what to do,” Veronica sighed.
“Perhaps he’s gone outside,” Dorcas said. “I’ll go look for him, Veronica. Please can you search the house all over again. Leon could be hiding under a bed. Perhaps he’s fallen asleep somewhere.”
“Yes, I’ll search everywhere again,” Veronica reassured Dorcas. She stood up quickly and left the bedroom.
Dorcas dashed to her wardrobe and began pulling on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.
“Leon, where are you, little mouse?” That was Dorcas’s pet name for her son. “You can’t have got very far,” she said, trying to reassure herself.
Just then she heard a loud knock on her front door. She heard Veronica rush down the passageway to answer it. Then she heard a man’s deep voice.
“Does this little boy belong to you?” Dorcas heaved a huge sigh of relief. She finished dressing as fast as she could. She couldn’t wait to hold Leon in her arms. She wanted to kiss and cuddle him.
“Thank you! Where on earth did you find him?” Veronica asked. “I’ve been searching the house for him.”
“He just wandered into my flat. I didn’t even know he was there. I was making myself some coffee when I heard him banging on my drums.”
“We could hear you playing earlier,” Veronica said.
“I hope the music wasn’t too loud,” the man apologised. “I have a gig tonight at the university so I needed to practise.”
From her room Dorcas listened, thinking that his voice sounded familiar.
“Well this little guy here certainly likes your music,” Veronica reached out and took Leon from the man’s arms. The toddler’s eyes were closing and a moment later he was fast asleep.
Veronica pulled him closer to her. She loved Leon as if she was his gogo. She always took good care of him, and Dorcas. Dorcas was very good to her and treated her like family. She’d had a huge fright when she couldn’t find Leon. He was getting to that age where you couldn’t take your eyes off him for a moment – she promised herself that from now on she’d be even more careful.
Dorcas checked her appearance in the mirror. Then she walked to the front door. She wanted to say a personal ‘thank you’ to the man for bringing her son home safely to her.
* * *
Tell us: What is going to happen next?