"Great! Now even my skirt is dirty, just what I needed…" mumbled the seven-year-old brunette, frowning at her previously white skirt.
Was getting lost in the middle of nowhere, not enough? Did her skirt have to get ruined, too? Poor mom…
Tears gathered at her eyes as she got reminded of her current predicament – a predicament, she had forgotten about for a few seconds, given her soiled skirt. She was lost and she did not even know how. And no, it was not just a horrifying nightmare that she was going to wake up from. It was real.
A part of her wanted to search around for someone but another part of her, a much bigger part, was scared of getting herself even deeper into the woods. So, she sat down under a tree and hoped that someone would find her. It was getting dark and she was honestly terrified of the wild animals…
"What?! What in the world do you mean, I cannot report missing?!" Sarah shrieked in rage at the police. "My darling baby is lost! And you, insensitive group of-"
"Madam, please. As you informed us so kindly, it has only been five hours," said the police officer. "We cannot know for sure that your child is lost. Maybe she had gone to a friend's house?"
"Well, as I have also informed you so kindly, she is only seven and a little sweetheart! She would never go anywhere without telling me! She knows that I worry!" at that, Sarah burst into tears, the stress of the last few hours catching up to her.
The police looked at each other helplessly as the distraught woman in front of them kept sobbing and choking out the name Sophie uncontrollably.
"Err…on second thought, it couldn't really hurt to look around a bit as, you know, it's a child and all."
The smile of appreciation on Sarah's face could not have been brighter.
Cold. That was all she felt. Or at least, that was all she could manage to think she felt. And maybe she was shivering a little, too. She was not sure.
"Sophie!" shouted Sarah, anguished to see her sweet child curled into a ball and shivering beneath a tree.
She ran towards her dear daughter and pulled her tiny, shaking body in her arms. Hugging her tightly in an attempt to preserve some of Sophie's body heat, she kept murmuring endearments to her; her voice muffled by her daughter's chestnut curls.
Sarah loosened her arms around Sophie as she felt her move.
"You found me." It was a soft whisper but Sarah heard it, anyway.
"Yes, I did."
"My new skirt is ruined…" it was whispered a bit fearfully.
Sarah chuckled slightly, shaking her head a little.
"Never mind that," she uttered gently, looking into the dark sapphire eyes of her daughter. "I can always replace a skirt, Sophie but I can never replace you…"