Thursday, November 10, 2016

Finding Flynn


My Halloween story this year.

     Margot wouldn’t walk.  Her witch’s dress was too long.  Ken didn’t hem it before he left for Los Angeles.  She kept tripping over it.  So she stopped walking.  “Broken!” she said, crying.  Frustrated.  Both of us.  Halfway to school.  Halfway to the Harvest Festival at McKinley.  We were late.  Later than I wanted to be.  I picked Margot up and carried her.  She was heavy.  Margot and Flynn were getting big.  Too big for me to pick them both up and carry them for any distance.  I was tired.  Always tired.
     Flynn wanted to be picked up too.  “No,” I said.
     “Yucky Daddy,” he said back.  He whined.  He pouted.  He crossed his arms.
     “Come on.  We’re late,” I said.
     “Why are we late?” Coco asked.  Now she was upset.  It was her school festival.  Her friends would be there.  We were late.
     “We’re not late.  I just said that to make you walk faster.”  I regretted saying it.  I was losing my patience.  We weren’t even at the school festival yet.

     Ken was supposed to be home.  I wasn’t supposed to go to the festival by myself.  With three kids.  He called that afternoon from LAX.  His flight was delayed.  He was unhappy.  He missed the fall celebration at Hola Kids for Margot and Flynn.  He would miss the harvest festival at McKinley for Coco.  I was going alone.  With two witches and warlock.  Margot wouldn’t walk.
     It was nearly 6:30.  It was already dark.  Ken told me I would be late.  I was.

     The festival was in the upper yard.  When we arrived it was already crowded.  It was dark.  There wasn’t much light.  It was noisy.  Loud music and an emcee on a platform.  He was announcing a dance contest.  Or was it a costume contest?  I couldn’t tell.  A mob of kids crowded around the platform.  I couldn’t see what they were doing.  Margot was talking to me. I couldn’t hear her.  “What?!  Come on!  Over here!”  I picked Margot up again.  The four of us moved over to the play structure.
     This was a bad idea.  It was dark.  I don’t see very well in the dark.  It was loud.  I don’t like crowds.  Margot wouldn’t walk.  How am I supposed to watch all three kids at the same time?  Where were the games?  Over there?  Where do I get tickets?  I needed Ken.  The darkness, the noise, the crowd wouldn’t bother him.  He could manage three kids in a dark noisy crowded upper yard.
     Take a deep breath.  It will be fine.  Make sure the kids have fun.
     I crouched down to fix Margot’s dress.  Flynn wanted to play on the play structure.  “Fine,” I said.  Coco wanted to go too.  “Fine.”
     I thought about tearing the bottom of the dress.  Ken would probably be mad if I did.  I tried to tuck the bottom of the dress into the front of her tights.  “No! Broken,” she said.  She pushed my hands away. She was tired.
     “Margot, we have to tuck it in so you can walk.”  I was tired.
     “No!  Broken!”
     Dammit.  What do I do now?  I looked up and saw Flynn on the play structure.  I turned back to Margot.  “Margot.  You have to walk.  I can’t carry you.”
     “No!” she cried.
     Coco came back.  “Daddy, I want to walk around.”
     “Okay.  We’ll walk around.”  I picked Margot up again.  I turned and looked for Flynn on the play structure.  I couldn’t see him.  It was dark.  I can’t see in the dark.  He was wearing a black cape.  Black pants.  A black hat.  Even his hair was black.  In the dark he was practically invisible.  Where was he?  Dammit.  All three kids were in black from head to foot.  Dresses.  Capes.  Hats.  Black hair.  What was I thinking?  This was a bad idea.   I wasn’t supposed to be here by myself.
     Find Flynn.
     “Come on.  I don’t see Flynn.  We have to find Flynn.”  Carrying Margot, I took Coco’s hand and we started walking around the play structure.  He wasn’t on the bridge.  He wasn’t on the little slide.  He wasn’t on the big slide.  Where was he?  I circled the play structure again.  No Flynn.
     “Coco, do you see Flynn.”  Her sight was better than mine.
     Now what do I do?  I put Margot down.  I turned to Coco.  “I need you to stay here with Margot.  I have to go find Flynn.  I’ll be right back.  Don’t.  Move.”  Was this a good idea?  How could I leave them alone?  How could I find Flynn fast if I couldn’t move fast?  I stepped away and Margot followed me.  Coco didn’t notice.  She was climbing on the play structure.  This was not a good idea.  “Coco!  Margot’s walking away and you’re not paying attention!”  Dammit.
     I saw Lawrence’s mom.  Finally, someone I knew.  I picked Margot up and took Coco’s hand.  I stepped over to Lawrence’s mom.  Over the noise of the music and the emcee, I shouted, “I have three kids.  I’ve lost one.  Can you watch these two while I go look for the third?”  I was starting to panic.
     She nodded.  “Yes, of course.”
     “Thanks.”  I turned around and started to walk through the crowd.  Looking for Flynn.  Where was he?  Did he go inside the school?  Did he go toward the games?  Did he go back to the play structure?  I was now panicking.  He had been missing for only a few minutes.  Only a few minutes?   How far away could he get in a few minutes?  But it was dark.  It was noisy.  It was crowded.  Where was my three-year-old?  I squinted in the dark.
     “We have a lost child.”  The emcee announced.  “Lenny?  Linny?”
Flynn and his cotton candy.
     Flynny.  I got to the platform, the emcee, waving my hand.  “He’s mine!  He’s mine!  Right here!”  I looked for him.  Where was he?  The emcee pointed down.
     There he was.  Looking up at me.  All in black.  Smaller than all the other kids in the mob around him.  He was crying.  I picked him up and hugged him and kissed him.  “Sorry, buddy.  It’s all right.  Sorry you got scared.”  Sorry I lost you.
     I carried him back to Margot and Coco.  “Come on.  Do you want something to eat?  Let’s get some hamburgers.”  I think I can do that without losing anyone.
     “Everyone, hold hands.”

"Three wizards and two witches walk into a bar . . . "


  1. What a journey, Mike. I really felt your fear. What you do is not easy, every single day, and especially in a situation like this! You're awesome. I'm glad it had a happy ending.

  2. I truly hope you are planning to publish this as a book. It is sweet, beautifully written, heartfelt and real. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. My heart was in my throat! I’m so glad it turned out ok but I could really feel your panic and now I'm tearing up!!

    Etta did this once to us, but it was at home. She was not yet two and I forgot to lock the front door. I found her playing in our front garden picking flowers right next to the street! I had nightmares for days afterward and to this day still lock the door when we’re home.

    Breathe, just breathe.