Jheng continues to help with Triskelion functions in the run-up to the Triskelions' 51st anniversary October 3 and 4. Jane today is at the semifinals of a fund-raising basketball tournament; tomorrow she'll borrow the car to check out the venue for the provincial chapter's celebration in the town of Lupao. I've agreed to be a sponsor; Jane said the chapter didn't have money for refreshments for marchers in the parade on Thursday, so I'm pushing their way the 50 bucks she said they needed.
Given all of Mama's busy-ness, I decided it was a good time to take the kiddos to their favorite place in the city, the SM Mall. Jheng's younger sister Marielle wanted to join us, and late Sunday morning I swung by in the Avanza to pick them up. We had a good lunch at Shakey's, the children had an hour of fun at *kidzoona*, (does one put a comma before or after an asterisk?) and I brought Marielle by the optometrist's to get her eyes checked (turns out she is farsighted; I got a good deal on glasses for her).
Marielle was in the supermarket shopping with Janiah; I was across from the supermarket with Lara and Aaron waiting for a bacon cheeseburger which we would bring back to the duplex for James. Lara reached for my ear and whispered to me that she needed to get more paper for school, so I handed her a P100 note, and she headed for the escalator, Aaron tagging along. Sundays are crowded days at the mall, and either on the escalator or in the large open space in front of National Bookstore, Aaron must have lost sight of Lara. About five minutes later Lara returned without Aaron, said she hadn't even known Aaron was following her. Marielle and Janiah were with us by then, and I thought, okay, he's still in the bookstore, probably engrossed in something he came upon.
Janiah and I went up to get him. He wasn't in the bookstore. And that's when anxiety set in, because it occurred to me that Aaron probably hadn't known where Lara was going. Janiah and I checked the park on the large second-level deck: no Aaron. Back on the first level we all cased the supermarket, thinking Aaron might have decided to join Marielle and Janiah there. No Aaron. Marielle was looking more and more alarmed and upset; I can't say I was taking this any more stoically than she.
Alone I walked toward the middle of the first level, searching the thighs of the crowds, about the level at which I would spot the head of the five year old. No Aaron. Back at the supermarket Marielle and the girls were gone: great, I thought. Now I've lost everyone. I stood outside the supermarket for about five minutes, and then Lara and Janiah ran up, Lara in tears. A lost boy was on the fourth level at the administrative office; Marielle had reported our situation to a mall cop, and the cop told her a boy had been found.
The girls raced ahead of me; I reached the fourth level and scanned the edges of its vast open area for an office. Just as I picked out the sign high above a door, I noticed my whole crew exiting the door, Aaron holding Marielle's hand. He had been found bawling outside of *kidzoona* on the third level! On the ride home I mentioned to Marielle in a low voice that ten-year-old Lara had been crying. She quickly told me that she had been crying too; walking up to that fourth-level office, she was half-sure she would encounter a strange boy, and the thought set tears flowing.