The day before my performance I had a very unlikely experience.
I was rushing to the theatre for rehearsal when one of the girls from my class, Amelia, called me. She said she was terribly sorry, but she had forgotten her costume at home. She asked if there was any chance I could go get it for her, and that her mother would let me in. I told her to text me her address and that I would do my best.
When she hung up, I typed her address into my phone’s maps. Seeing that it was only a 7-minute walk from where I was, I decided to help her out. With my eyes glued to my phone, I crossed the street and turned into an alleyway so narrow, a car could barely pass through. I took another turn, to an even narrower street, when I started to hear footsteps behind me. The footsteps got steadily louder, as if whoever was walking was getting closer. I started to feel a bit nervous.
Not looking at my maps anymore, I took two random turns to see if whoever was behind me would follow. They did. I started to walk faster, and faster, not looking where I was going. Somehow, I soon found myself on the main street, different to the one I had started in. Deeming myself safe, I looked over my shoulder to see who had been following me. It was a little boy. In the narrow alleyway, his footsteps had sounded like those of a full-grown man, but I saw now that it was a boy, not much older than three years old. I must admit I felt quite silly. The boy was out of breath and it was clear that he had been running to catch up with me. Now that he had, he seemed disappointed.
“Maman?” he asked confused. I shook my head.
“Tu as pedu ta maman? (Have you lost your mother?)” I asked. The boy nodded. Unsure of what to do next, I approached the boy and took his hand. “Shall we go look for her?” I asked. The boy nodded again.
Together, we headed back into the alleyway.
I struggled to retrace my steps. The boy seemed to have a better sense of direction than me. Whenever I was about to take a wrong turn he would tug at my hand and point me towards the right direction. Soon we found ourselves at the entrance of the alleyway. I looked around trying to spot any woman who seemed distressed, but everyone seemed to be going about their business as normal. The boy and I stood there and waited for a few minutes, but no one approached us. I figured that the best thing to do next was to go to the police, but I wasn’t sure what procedures would be involved, or how to even get to the police for that matter. As I was wondering what to do I received a text from Amelia, asking me if I had picked up her costume.
Remembering what I was doing there in the first place I decided to go to Amelia’s place to pick up her costume. I thought that perhaps her mother could help me out with the boy, or even call the police on my behalf. “Here’s what we are going to do”, I told the boy, “We are going to go for a quick stop to rest, and then we are going to find your mum. You know that we are going to find her, right?” The boy nodded. I was amazed at how calm he was, lost in the city, with a stranger.
When I reached Amelia’s place I only had to ring the doorbell once.
Her mother had obviously been expecting me. She let me in exclaiming repeatedly how kind of me it was to be helping Amelia out. When she saw the boy come in behind me, she looked confused. I hurried to explain the situation to her. As soon as I told her what had happened, she hugged the boy and started talking to him in rapid French that I couldn’t follow. She invited us into the living room and offered us biscuits and lemonade. Even though I was already running late, I didn’t want to be rude. I sat down with the boy who seemed delighted at the idea of having biscuits so early in the morning.
She proceeded to ask the boy questions, trying to get an idea of where he lived.
“It’s hopeless”, she shook her head. “I’m afraid we are going to have to go to the police. Actually, I will take him, you mustn’t miss rehearsal.”
I was about to protest when I heard the faint sound of someone shouting. As the sound got louder and louder, Amelia’s mum and I rushed to the windows. We saw a woman frantically running up and down the street crying “Antoine, Antoine, où est-tu?”. Amelia’s mother called out to her. At the same time, hearing his mother’s voice, the boy ran to the window. When his mother looked up he waved at her, while happily munching on a biscuit. I have never seen a person look happier or more relieved than that mother when she looked up to see her child waving at her from a stranger’s window.
In the end, I was two hours late for rehearsal. But it was absolutely worth it.
by Elena S.