Spokane, Washington, 2004 – “Oh, Junior,” Lizzie Taylor said in a sing-song voice, her chocolate-colored eyes searching the room. “Where are you?”
A giggle came from behind the couch. Lizzie smirked and dropped to her hands and knees. She peered around the armrest. Her nearly three-year-old son was sitting cross-legged on the floor and had his back to her.
She crawled up from behind and grabbed him. Junior let out a squeal.
“Ha! I got you!” Lizzie tickled him, causing him to burst into fits of laughter. Oh, how she loved hearing his laugh. Especially after his rough start in life.
She stopped tickling him and gave him a kiss on his chubby cheek.
Junior made a face. “Ew, Mommy!”
“What?” She said, hugging him tightly. “I love you!”
Junior grinned up at her, his jade green eyes sparkling. Lizzie smiled and ruffled his brown hair. He put his hands on top of hers and wrinkled his little nose.
He looked so much like his father when he did that. Lizzie’s smile faded as she hugged him again. “Come on, buddy,” she said. “Let’s go eat lunch.”
“Mommy, are you sad?” Junior asked as he followed her into the kitchen. Lizzie paused with her hand on the milk carton for a momentary second.
“Because Daddy’s not here.” She closed the fridge and moved to the cupboard.
“Daddy playing hide-and-seek?”
Lizzie set down the bread, jam, and peanut butter. “Yeah,” she said. “I guess you could say Daddy is playing hide-and-seek.”
“I go find Daddy!” Junior declared. He tilted his head. “Mommy, where is Daddy?”
Lizzie smiled slightly. “I can’t tell you,” she said. “That would be cheating.” She started making their sandwiches. “And who knows, maybe we won’t find Daddy. Maybe he’ll find us.”
©H.S. Kylian 2018
(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)