Nicholas: Lost Innocence
The boy brushed the dirt from his forehead with the sleeve of his grey tweed coat. He shivered, his knickers barely reaching his knees. Hugging his teddy bear tightly, his chin trembled. A tear rolled down his cheek. “Mommy?”
His fingers throbbed, their tips bloodied, his fingernails broken.
He blinked up into the light of the streetlamp. Walking through the grass, he wove his way through the headstones and into the street.
A gentle breeze swept over his face. It was quiet, but for the leaves rustling overhead.
* * *
Jason Mills grinned and kissed his wife Diane.
She ran a finger down his cheek. Nestling her head on his shoulder, she smiled. Opening her eyes, she then gasped. “Jason!”
Jason directed his eyes to the road. There in its middle was a small boy clutching a teddy bear. He slammed on the brakes. The car stopped mere inches from where he stood.
She pressed a hand to her mouth. “Did we hit him?”
They both scrambled from the car and into the street.
The boy gazed up at them, in the glare of the headlights.
They both stared, and she looked down the road and into the neighboring yards. She kneeled before him and wiped the dirt from his face. “Sweetie? What are you doing out here? Where’s your mommy?”
He bowed his head, tears streaming down his cheeks.
“Oh, honey.” She took him in her arms and pulled him close. “It’s okay. We’ll help you find your mommy.” She lifted him into her arms.
“What are you doing?”
“We’re taking him to the police station, that’s what we’re doing. We can’t leave him out here.”
“What about his parents?”
She waved an arm at the empty street. “Do you see anyone?”
She carried him into the car and set him on her lap. He rested his head on her shoulder, and she ran her fingertips over his hair. “My, that’s such a handsome suit. Can you tell me your name?” He didn’t answer, and she lifted the back of his collar.
Jason got back behind the wheel. “Now what are you doing?”
“Parents usually sew their kid’s names into their clothes. You know that.”
The boy closed his eyes and fell to sleep.
“Poor thing. Must be exhausted.” She studied his clothes. “How did he get covered in dirt? And who puts their kid in shorts to dress up?”
Jason closed the door and pulled the car over. “I think they used to call those knickers.”
“Look at him. He looks as though he’s dressed for Sunday service, with his little shirt and tie. And what happened to his fingers? It looks as though he was clawing at something.” She sighed, resting back in her seat. “So how did you come to be out here, in the middle of the night?”
Turning back in the direction he came, Jason drove to the police station.