On the playground, there are always several parents' voices drowning out the sounds of children at play. The campground playground is no exception. But the way the woman was calling her daughter's name sounded more strident, with none of the annoyance of repeated calls for dinner or to play nicely with a sibling or to stop throwing sand.
Walking toward the restroom, I walked past a young woman who asked if I'd seen Haley, a little girl, about 4, dressed in pink, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. I hadn't, I told her. And then I continued to the restroom. Instead of going into a stall, I looked under each stall, called curly Haley's name, and then left.
Several people were now shouting for her. I could clearly make out the mother's and the father's voices. The mother's voice was now filled with urgency. It came in and out of my focus as if she were cupping her mouth and turning 360 degrees repeatedly. It trailed off and moved farther away, as her search perimeter moved beyond the immediate playground area.
The father's voice, previously calm, measured and deep, now was the loudest in the area. He had stopped the charade of casualness. It was serious now.
I stopped two teens on bicycles. Had they seen the curly girl? They hadn't. Would they mind riding around and seeing if they could spot her? Onto the other restroom, the larger one, and asking the people I came upon the same question. No one had seen her, but now more were enlisted to search.
As an aside to the young woman who first queried me, I'd asked if anyone had checked the car. To me and my sense of paranoia, the first place to check would be the car, where children often play, oblivious to the danger, to the rising heat.
Walking more quickly back to the original site, there she was. She was about, wearing pink, with blonde curly hair, blue eyes and very rosy cheeks. She'd been playing in the car. The father said he'd heard someone suggest checking it, so he did. And he found her.
I still get goosebumps thinking about what might have been.
[Written in response to the prompt at Sunday Scribblings.]