“PoPo the clown is going to be at the mall today. We can go see him after we get the shopping done,” Mommy said loudly over the noise of driving on the expressway.
“Yea,” Tammy cried with glee. She sang happily even though her new slip itched and her new shoes pinched.
Mommy drove through this big city with lots of apartments and kids. It was different from where Tammy lived. About the only time she got to play with kids her own age was when she was in summer kindergarten. Mommy had gone to Grandpa’s for the summer to help him and Grandma.
“Remember the ‘If you get lost’ rule?”
“Yea, Mommy,” Tammy said. She had been looking around thinking, ‘I wonder where PoPo the clown is,’ while she twisted her hair.
Her fancy tights kept falling down and Tammy missed her jeans. She saw her reflection in the mall door as they went in. She looked like a fancy doll with her brown hair in braids and bows. And that ruffled dress looked out of place on her.
She followed her mother in the direction of PoPo the clown. Tammy heard her mother talking, but she was watching PoPo doing his magic act as she walked pass the stage. She couldn’t take her eyes off him. Suddenly she realized she had stopped and Mommy wasn’t anywhere in sight. She couldn’t remember what to do.
Her heart raced and a lump formed in her throat. She thought her mommy had gone into the big store over there and she went to look for her. Hand in hair, she started to go looking through the stores near PoPo’s stage. What would her mommy be doing? Tammy saw herself in a mirror, her long braids a little messed up. Her brown wide-open eyes were wet with tears about to spill down her cheek.
What was she suppose to do? Mommy had told her many times. Tammy thought this would never happen. But it had. She had lost track of her Mommy, in a strange mall with lots of strangers, and she knew she wasn’t to trust strangers.
Tammy looked around the mall. There where a lot of people moving around and over by the mall doors was a very dirty man looking in the trash. Tammy continued on into the closest store and turned to go the other way toward the clothes.
“Oh there’s that dirty man again,” she noticed, “I better keep away from him and keep looking for Mommy.” Tammy went back into the mall and towards PoPo the clown. She noticed the toys in the window of a toy store and saw the dirty man in the reflection coming her way. She turned to look at him and he ducked behind the corner.
“Is he following me?” she wondered, and her hand found it’s way back in her hair.
“Don’t talk to stranger,” was her mother’s words echoing in her head. Tammy felt like her heart would come up out her throat. She even noticed her knees were shaking.
“I’d better keep looking,” she said and headed back to the big store.
“Hey little girl, you need some help? You look lost” a grating voice from behind her said. It made her neck tingle. She turned around to see the dirty man. She walked away from him.
“Hey, I’m not going to hurt you,” the voice came again and a chill ran down her back. She saw his hand coming toward her.
Just ahead of her were the lines for people to by things. Tammy had a great idea. She ran to one of the store workers and shouted, “I don’t know him! My mommy’s name is Betty Fuller and she lost me.” She pointed at the dirty man angrily.
The dirty man disappeared quickly and the store clerk bent down as Tammy flet the tears run down her cheek.
“Are you lost?” the clerk asked.
“No, but my mommy is,” Tammy answered and the clerk laughed.
“We’ll go to the store office over there,” he pointed” and I’ll talk over the loud speaker and see if we can find her.”
It wasn’t long and her mother was found. Mommy had been looking for Tammy.