- Somewhere To Belong
Nope, this was not what he’d had in mind every time he’d thought about being on his own. More than once he’d wanted to prove to the world that he was more than just the ‘son of’ Brian Littrell. But now that he was all alone, he wouldn’t mind getting a little help. If he’d only had his cell phone with him, this whole damn thing wouldn’t have happened. But no, mom thought he’d been too distracted by the device that she had taken it away from him. He felt another bout of anger coursing through him as he trudged across yet another parking lot. Why does Mom have to ruin everything?
Angry and helpless tears glistened on his face when he paused mid-step and realized that he’d already been there before. I’m going in circles. Sitting down against the wall of a local supermarket he willed himself to calm down and think. Did he cross this supermarket while he was running away, and if so, what direction had he come from? Baylee sighed, frustrated and looked around him once more, his eyes darting over the various details of the parking lot, trying to remember. Now I know how Dad must feel sometimes. His father could lose his way in their own house. Baylee stood up and made his way into the supermarket. He’d made up his mind, and had decided it was time for some desperate measures. When he reached the counter, he tried to put on the sweetest face he could manage and stared at the young cashier.
“Hi sweetie, can I help you?” she said in a soft voice.
Baylee stared sweetly at her for a couple more moments, cursing himself inwardly for having to do this. “Umm, I lost my mom…” he said in a small voice, as piteous as he could. Those acting classes do come in handy after all.
“Oh, honey. I’m sorry. Is she here at the shop? What does she look like? Do you want me to help you find her?” Dear God no, when she finds out who my mom is…, Baylee thought and abruptly turned away from the girl, already regretting he talked to her in the first place. Mom had taught him not to talk to strangers when she or Dad wasn’t there with him.
“Young man, can you tell me where you last saw her?” she called after him and he turned to face her again. She did have a good point.
“In a shopping mall in the centre,’’ he replied and gazed into her eyes, daring her to say anything about that.
“The centre?” she wondered. “Then how’d you end up here?”
Baylee sighed exasperatedly. “Well, I ran obviously.” He answered, not tearing his eyes away from hers.
“Yeah, I ran, can we just get over this and come to the point where you tell me how I can get back to the centre?” He was totally done with acting young, lost and innocent. It was time to get things done now. Dad had told him more than once that he had a surprising big vocabulary for someone his age, and he figured now was the time to let it shine in all its glory.
“I don’t know, I feel kinda uncomfortable letting you go off alone,” she hesitated and Baylee frowned, annoyed.
“Oh please, I may not look like it, but I’m thirteen, you know, I can deal by myself,” he assured her quickly. There was nothing like lying about your age to get what you wanted. So what if he talked himself a month older, it wasn’t like she was gonna figure it out.
“Well, okay then,” she seemed a little offended and Baylee smiled innocently again, “just go round the counter, third alley to the ummm, right, follow all the way through, go left, walk about three miles and you’ll be in the main shopping street. I’m not sure which mall you’re supposed to go, though…”
“Oh, I’ll find it from there on, thanks!” he showed her a beaming smile and turned to leave.
“Hey, do I know you from somewhere?” he heard her wonder behind his back.
“Nope!” he yelled back and left the supermarket.
They would never find him in here! He giggled in excitement, unable to keep himself quiet. He’d been bored, watching Daddy perform and had slipped from underneath his mother’s unsuspecting arms and ran through the arena’s hallways on his short legs, to find the perfect hiding spot. Whenever Daddy wasn’t working, which didn’t occur that often, he and Baylee would play hide and seek. Baylee was getting quite good at it. Feeling like he had hit the jackpot, he climbed onto a table filled with all sorts of delicious munchies, and began stuffing his face.
He knew he was being a bad boy. Mommy would be very mad if she saw him eating so much chocolate, but he couldn’t help it. The chocolate seemed to call out to him, he just had to eat it, just had to. Faintly, he could still hear the music Daddy and his friends were making, vibrating through the room. That wasn’t right. Whenever you were playing hide and seek, Daddy had told him, you were supposed to get as far away as you could get and you had to find the most unreachable spot you could find. Reluctantly, he put the half-eaten chocolate cookie back on the plate and wandered out of the room again.
He tried to stay as far away from the music as he could. It was like his Daddy was counting to twenty, but then very loudly, and with music, and Baylee had to get away as quick as possible, cause if he didn’t, Daddy would reach the number twenty and Baylee would still be there and he’d lose. Baylee did not want to lose, because he always lost. Probably because by now Daddy had already figured out that Baylee’s favourite hiding spot was behind the second tree on the right in their backyard. The tree was very big and he loved to climb it, though Mommy said he shouldn’t if he didn’t want to break his legs. Baylee didn’t know what that meant, but it didn’t sound pleasant. So now he was only allowed to climb it if Daddy was near. There were no trees in sight in the arena though, but there was something else.
A bright, exultant smile lit up his young features as he watched the elevator in front of him. He’d been in one before, thousands of times, but he’d never been in one alone. The thought of taking the elevator to bring him on another floor, further away from the music, excited him so much that he squealed out loud and pushed the button repeatedly, impatient. When the doors finally opened, Baylee’s eyes got big and he slowly and solemnly walked inside, gazing at the interior. Before he could move, he saw the doors closing again, and screamed. He’d made up his mind and decided that he wasn’t brave enough to ride the elevator on his own yet. Running towards the closing doors, he tried to get out of the elevator, but before he could do so, the doors were closed and he was trapped.
“Mommy!” he yelled, feeling the steel cage beginning to move upwards.
When the elevator finally reached its attributed floor slowly, Baylee had pressed himself against the back wall, his eyes pressed shut, whimpering slightly. He heard the doors open again and shot out of the cage, like a rocket. He flew past a woman with a notebook in her hands, who spun on her heels, a bewildered expression on her face.
“Young man! No running in these hallways!” she scolded him.
He didn’t listen and picked up his pace again. He stumbled, almost fell on his face, but managed to land on his butt instead. Without giving it a second thought he picked himself up, not looking back. Elevators are evil! Entering the first room that came in sight and wasn’t locked, he let himself slide down against the wall, closing the door. Suddenly he felt the excited feeling he’d had before come back. They were never gonna find him in here!
Sighing with immense relief, he saw the familiar shopping mall looming up in front of him. He gave a short laugh and thanked the Lord for getting him back safely. This was it. He was just gonna walk inside, straight up to his mom and, well, he was gonna pretend that nothing had happened.
Baylee sighed. Mom and him had been on the seventh floor when he’d ran off on her and he figured that descending the staircase was a lot less exhausting than it was ascending the same staircase. He eyed the elevators suspiciously. Elevators are evil! He felt the old fear he’d had as a child come back again, decided that his condition could use the extra boost and headed for the staircase.
Panting, he reached the seventh floor and cursed the mall for having elevators instead of escalators. Puzzled, he looked around, trying to remember where exactly his mother and he had parted. With a defeated sigh, he lowered himself behind a big potted tree, burying his face inside his hands. Mom was nowhere in sight.