Stolen Innocence

Welcome to latest installment of the Red Dress Club. The current prompt is:

Someone has stolen something from you (or your character). Something of tremendous value. What will you do to get it back? Or will you give up?

Write a post – fiction or non – and tell us about it. Word limit is 600. Here we go:

“Daddy, They Have Mommy’s Purse.” It didn’t sink in at first. We had gone to Target to buy a new car seat for my son and some napkins, nothing real special. For that matter we would have skipped the trip altogether but today was the last day that the seat was on sale.

“Daddy, They Have Mommy’s Purse,” said my son. It took a moment to realize what he was saying because like so many other children he had spent a good deal of time pointing at various items and explaining why he had to have it and I was not paying as much attention as I could have. But it wasn’t like I was ignoring him either.

We were on the second floor and preparing to take the elevator down to the first floor. My son and I were waiting for the girls to finish looking through the clothes that hung near the elevator doors. Bibs, dresses, onesies, a cornucopia of clothes, girls clothes I might add. And while they were sorting through the various pieces I was lost in thought about this and that.

“Daddy, They Have Mommy’s Purse.” I heard it and looked up in time to see a flash of pink in the hands of a woman entering the elevator. I grabbed my son and hustled over to his mother and asked if she had her purse. She looked in the stroller and shook her head no and I ran towards the escalator.  All I had to do was run down the stairs, make a quick turn and I’d be there to see the doors open.

230 pounds of angry father muttered “excuse me” as I bulled my way past the people standing on the stairs.  As I ran towards the still closed doors my mind was racing to process what I had heard, what I thought I had seen and what I was going to do. The elevator doors open and I find myself face to face with a man pushing a shopping cart that contained a car seat and baby inside of it. A rail thin woman stood next to the man. I sized them up quickly. He was as big as me, average height but broad. In a pleasant voice I asked them if they had seen a pink purse.

They shook their heads and said no and pushed past me. As they exited the elevator I stared at them and wondered if they had lied to me. When my son shouted “Daddy, They Have Mommy’s Purse” I had looked up in time to see them enter and thought that I had glimpsed a flash of pink. I knew that just prior to this my daughter had been playing with the now missing purse, but still I wasn’t 100 percent certain.

Now my mind was racing and adrenaline was flowing. This is my family. My job is to protect them. I follow this couple through the store but they ignore me. I can’t see the purse, but I consider forcing them to stop. I size up the man again. The vein in my forehead is throbbing and my fists are semi clenched. I am ready for battle, but the uncertainty of whether they have the purse or not makes me wonder. I watch them leave, take out my cellphone and start calling credit card companies.

Surveillance tapes will show that they took the purse and placed it in the car seat behind the baby. They never get the chance to use the credit cards, but get the use of some cash and gift cards that were supposed to be used to buy things for the my kids. No one got hurt but I won’t ever forget the day because they stole my son’s innocence.

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15 Comments

  1. Barbara April 9, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I could feel your sense of urgency trying to chase down the people. My favorite part was “The vein in my forehead is throbbing and my fists are semi clenched. I am ready for battle, but the uncertainty of whether they have the purse or not makes me wonder.” The anger and doubt of whether or not they truly have the purse. I wouldn’t change it at all.

    • Jack April 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      That was so very hard-not knowing for certain but feeling like they had it. I had to fight not to do something and that was a real challenge.

  2. Erica M April 8, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Good, suspenseful piece. Maybe lose the last line altogether? The purse being stolen and your family’s safety being challenged is effectively dramatic. The last line is anti-climatic IMO.

  3. Evonne April 8, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention if my child said that either. I would have thought they saw someone who had a purse that looked like mine, not my actual purse.

    I could feel your anger and sense of urgency. I agree that the focus shifted from your son to you, but I wouldn’t change it.

    • Jack April 8, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      Anger is an understatement- I was seething but truly uncertain about whether they had it. Had I been more confident I might have prevented them from leaving. Probably good that I didn’t, but it really rankled me.

  4. Frume Sarah April 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Reading myself into the story, not to mention the location of the action, I would have assumed that my son saw an exact duplicate of my purse that I had, most likely, purchased from Target. And would have offered murmured assurances (“that’s right, sweetheart,” “Mommy got her purse here too,” and other vapid comments) that would have given the perpetrators ample time to make a clean getaway.

    Until I read Carina’s comment, it hadn’t occurred to me that we hadn’t seen your son throughout most of the essay. In rereading it, though, I would be afraid of tinkering too much with the flow simply for the sake of interjecting him every now and then.

    • Jack April 8, 2011 at 11:46 pm

      My son still remembers this. Sometimes he asks me to look for them at the store. Now that he is much older I wonder what he would do and if I would reach more quickly/aggressively.

  5. Leighann April 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    All I can think is what would I do?
    Would I take my child’s word for it or would I look for proof?
    Good one!

  6. Galit Breen April 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Jack! I totally hung on to make sure that the purse and everyone else made it out safely!

    I love the repeating thread of “They have Mommy’s purse” and the repeating themes of protector and innocence.

    My favorite line though is this: “230 pounds of angry father muttered “excuse me” as I bulled my way past the people standing on the stairs.” it’s poetic, strong, concise. Perfect.

    • Jack April 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      That line is understated, truth is that I knocked people over like bowling pins, but that sounded kind of worn out and tired. Thank you for the feedback, as always it is greatly appreciated.

  7. Mrs. Jen B April 8, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Oooh those people have my blood boiling! I can feel your frustration here and the urgency to catch them in the act.

  8. Carina April 8, 2011 at 12:16 am

    Wow. Another good one for the archives. I feel your sense of urgency and the unsure prowling.

    If I had one complaint, it would be that this story is about you and you don’t connect it back to your son (from the beginning) until the last line.

    This is becoming one of my favorite blogs to follow.

    • Jack April 8, 2011 at 11:21 pm

      The story is focused on me because it is my experience as a father and my frustration with my inability to take care of something that I think is important.

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