Chapter 2: Toddler on The Run

By the time I had managed to get Lily settled into sleep after a day of being would up and spoiled by my mother, I had just a few hours to surf the internet on my mother’s incredibly slow computer looking for jobs. There was absolutely nothing close to my mother’s house.

This would mean I would have to find myself a car and worry about gas money on top of a sitter for Lily.

I climbed into bed next to Lily, wrapping my arms around her protectively, and very quickly drifted into sleep. It seemed like I had only been asleep a few minutes, when I was awakened by Lily’s tiny fingers poking at my face. In her tiny fist, she grasped my nose tightly with a giggled.

“I’m up, I’m up!” I teased, playfully blowing a raspberry on her stomach.

She shrieked with giggles.

“How about we go to the store today?” I asked her, not entirely expecting a response. “Mommy has to pick up a few things…”

“No!” She cried loudly and laughed.

“Well, you haven’t got much choice,” I grinned, and blew a loud raspberry on her stomach again.

By the time I got the two of us ready, it was nearly noon, meaning I had to stop and feed her before we went out. The only thing in the cupboard she would eat was alphaghettis, which meant of course that I had to change her clothes again.

I found her a cute little pink dress and a pair of white tights to put on. She was a little overdressed for a trip to Wal-Mart, but it would do.

My mother had left her car, and I buckled Lily into a car seat in the middle of the backseat. I wanted to be sure I could see her from the driver’s seat, just in case.

I double checked her diaper back to be sure that I had everything I would need, and made absolute sure that Lily’s favorite stuffed animal was in her hand. I knew she would be rather upset without it.

At last I climbed into the driver’s seat and drove carefully to the nearest Wal-Mart. It had been a while since I had driven last, and I wasn’t about to take any risks with my child in the car.

I found a spot relatively close to the door and climbed out of the car. I carefully released Lily from the restraints of her car seat, and she instantly reached out to be picked up.

As I balanced Lily on my hip and reached for the diaper bag, I realized, what I had forgotten. I had forgotten to bring her stroller, and now I would have to carry her.

I sighed and thought about going back for the stroller, but when I thought about the amount of work involved in getting ready again, I realized I would rather have a sore arm.

I hoisted her up to get a better grip on her. I was struggling with the diaper bag sliding down my shoulder, when the greeter at the door asked me if I wanted a cart.

“A cart!” I cried. “You’re a genius! Thank you!” I lifted Lily into the front of the cart, adjusting her chubby little legs so they stuck out beneath the handle. I strapped her in carefully, putting safety first. “Ready for a ride?” I asked her with a smile, dropping the diaper bag into the larger part of the cart with my purse.

I pushed her quickly toward the back of the store, where all of the baby supplies were located. She giggled and kicked her legs eagerly.

I stopped to look at a clearance display of furniture, but managed somehow to keep my attention still on Lily.

“Mommy! Juice!” Lily shouted a little too loudly.

I had been expecting this, and had come prepared. I stopped abruptly, and walked around to the front of the cart. I pulled a water bottle that I had filled with juice from the diaper bag and removed a sippy cup. Once the sippy cup was full, I snapped the lid on and placed it in her chubby little fingers.

She immediately started drinking. I was looking at a crib that converted into a bed, when a flash of bright pink caught my eye.

“Sweetie, what do you think of this chair?” I asked her, pointing to a small pink fuzzy chair. It was made of foam and had a lily stitched on the back. I thought it was perfect, and could use a bit of a splurge in order to spoil my own daughter. I lifted her down from the cart, but she refused to let go of the sippy cup. I set her down on her feet, so she could touch the chair. I dropped down to my knees to turn the thing over and look at the price.

“Well, we’re in luck, Lily, it’s on sale.” I said, but when I turned, Lily was already halfway down the aisle, running as fast as she could with her sippy-cup in hand.

I cursed silently to myself and pushed myself up off my knees and leaving the cart, my purse, and the diaper bag, I took off running after her.

Before I could get to her, she ran crashing into a pair of denim clad legs, getting wet handprints all over someone’s pants.

“I am so sorry!” I exclaimed. “She gets away on me sometimes, terrible twos or something, I don’t know…” I didn’t look up at the person, I simply pulled Lily away and lifted her onto my hip. “Remember our talk about strangers?” I asked her.

She giggled in response.

“Andy? Andy Davenport?”

With wide eyes, I finally realized who Lily had run into.

“Isaac?” I asked in disbelief. “Oh my god! I haven’t seen you in ages!” I embraced him lightly, still holding onto Lily with my other hand.

“Yeah, it’s been a while… since you were dating my brother…” He smiled.

“Right…”

Lily was reaching for Isaac, wanting him to hold her.

“No, no, sweetie.” I said, bringing her attention back to her juice so I could talk for a moment.

“Who is this little cutie?” Isaac asked, gently tousling Lily’s hair.

“This is Lily.” I supplied.

“You’re babysitting or is this something to do with teaching?” He asked curiously.

“No, no. She’s mine.” I affirmed. “She’s almost three now.” I was careful to avoid giving too much information.

“Wow, it’s so hard to believe you have a kid!” He grinned. “I mean, I remember when you tried to baby-sit my little sister and she threw up all over you. You swore you would never have kids!” He chuckled.

“Well, things change, I guess.” I smiled. “What about you? Any kids yet?”

“No, none for me.” He laughed. “I’m still single.”

“Then… how come you’re in the baby section?” I asked curiously.

“Oh, this.” Isaac laughed, glancing around. “I’m shopping for a baby shower. Natalie is pregnant again.”

I raised my eyebrows several inches, “Oh really?” I’m sure I sounded more surprised than I had meant to. “I haven’t spoken to Taylor in….” Three years, a voice in my head finished. “A while.” I said out loud.

“I’ll tell him you’re in town, maybe you could have a play date or some-“

“No!” I interrupted quickly, grabbing his arm harder than I had meant to. “I mean… there’s so much history there…. I don’t think…” I was quickly running out of excuses. Lily was beginning to squirm in my arms.

“Right, okay.” Isaac nodded sympathetically. “So, um… you must be married now, then. Was it a big ceremony?”

“Uh, No. I’m not married. I’m perpetually single now; I’ve got this one to worry about.” I hugged Lily to keep her close to me.

“Really? I mean, that’s got to be tough… what about her father-“

“Uh, he’s not… I mean… I…” I sighed. “I should go, really. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do, we’re late and I…. I’ve got to go.” I said hurriedly. “I’ll see you around. I’m sorry, she got juice on your pants! I’ll buy you a new pair!” I hurried off toward the cart with Lily in my arms. Not bothering to put her back in the child seat, I quickly pushed the cart away to get as far away from Isaac as possible, and as far away from the conversation as I could.

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