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A long stressful day at the office was something Jacob hated going through. People getting flustered with their work and yelling at him to get a move on and help in any way possible. Just what he needed. Today had been even more tense because when he woke up this morning, he forgot it was his 11th anniversary with his loving but terrifying wife, Alena. She wouldn’t even glance his way when she asked if he remembered what today was and he stared into space. What a wonderful way to start off this weekend. And to add to it tomorrow he has to get along with his wife long enough to take the kids out to the new Toys ‘R’ Us grand opening for Aaliyah’s birthday. Just thinking about the up coming events gave Jacob a massive headache. How in the world was he possibly going to get through the next few days, let alone the next few hours?
Soon enough the clock told Jacob that it was time to go home and he had sighed a sigh of relief. He pulled out of the parking lot and made his way onto the highway pushing down the gas pedal just a smidge harder. Within fifteen minutes or so, he parked in the nearest spot at Aaliyah’s school. He waited only a few moments until he saw his beautiful daughter run at the sight of him with her arms wide open. She ran into him and gave him a hug saying that she had missed him all day. Jacob longed for times like these. Times when his children’s faces lit up at the fact that they’d be engaging in family activities throughout the night. He felt blessed because he knew most parents didn’t get that privilege however, he knew the sudden burst of excitement in his daughter’s eyes would eventually fade as she grew older. Savoring the tiny moments he still had with her due to her youth he asked, “Hey sweetie how was your day?”
“It was okay. Ms. Dillon gave everyone back their creative writing stories today and I got a sticker on mine!”
“That’s wonderful darling,” he laughed with pleasure. “I can’t wait to read it when we get home.”
“It’s about you, mommy, Gabrielle, Alec, and Miles. I even wrote about the puppy.”
“Well isn’t that nice? We just might have to go out an celebrate a job well done.”
“Yay!” Aaliyah beamed with smiles because she knew they were going out for ice cream; it has always been and will always been their little thing together.
After ice cream Jacob called Alena and told her they were on their way home. To his surprise she seemed fine and forgot about the whole mess this morning. He knew she didn’t forget but she was just happy at the fact that he’d have to do something incredible to commemorate their special day to make it up to her and he planned to do so. It was the absolute least he could do for such a wonderful person.
As he stepped in the door he was greeted by little faces all swarming around him for attention. He loved the feeling he got every time he went home and that was the feeling of being welcomed and loved. A feeling that could never be replaced and a feeling that if torn away from you could make any person die inside. Once fully inside he made his way over to Alena who was patiently waiting for her husband in the foyer. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her in attempt to make an early apology.
* * *
The next few days leading up to the weekend had been much better. Jacob had taken Alena out to a special dinner for their anniversary the night after their fight. He had worn a suit and got her a bouquet of pink roses, which happened to be her favorite flower. Alena had worn a black strapless dress and that night when the kids were sound asleep he couldn’t fathom the idea of taking his hands off of her.
Saturday morning was crept up on everyone too soon and they all wondered how could the day come so fast? Today was the day of Aaliyah’s 8th birthday and it was agreed that the family was going to spend the day wherever Aaliyah wished until her party later on that day. It just so happened that the place of her choice was Toys R’ Us. They couldn’t refuse because all the children picked wherever they wanted to go on their birthday and if they stopped now the screaming would kick in. Besides it was a family tradition; one that they were going to stick to even if it meant waiting in line outside until the store had its big grand opening.
They pulled into the parking lot and quickly grabbed the best spot in line. The way Jacob saw it was the sooner they got want was needed, they sooner they’d leave. Aaliyah and Gabrielle were so excited while Alec and Miles nearly slept in the stroller because they had made a fuss about waking up. Jacob only wished he was in his sons position.
The store finally opened half an hour later and Alena took the girls to the section that housed the dolls, Barbie’s, and other girlie type toys. On the other hand Jacob wheeled the boys over to the games and stuffed animals hoping they’d sleep through the entire trip so he wouldn’t have to deal with two cranky boys under the age of two. As fate would have it, Alec woke up and started to squirm in his seat. Jacob unfastened his baby seat and let Alec roam around in his eyesight. Jacob continued looking around as his phone rang.
“Hey honey we are just about done here. Want to meet us at electronics?”
“Sure let me just grab Alec and we’ll see you soon,” he said as he looked for his son just to find out that he went missing. Sudden panic surged through is body and just as his wife was about to hang up he managed to murmer the words ‘wait’.
“What is it dear?” Alena now sounded concerned.
“Meet me by games. I can’t find Alec,” he hung up and searched impatiently waiting for his wife.
Minutes later Alena, Aaliyah, and Gabrielle were staring at Jacob with worried expressions. On their way over they looked for their missing child but unfortunately he didn’t show up. Jacob notified the staff about the problem and they assured him they were going to find his son and for him not to worry. But how in the world could he not worry? His two-year-old son was lost in a store with thousands of people pushing their way through crowds to get the hottest toys. The crowd could have knocked him down or worse, someone could have taken him. The guilt was eating him alive and to make things worse Alena was to the point where her voice was raised in panic.
“How could you lose him? I left you in charge of the boys for 20 minutes and I come back to find one of them missing! What were you thinking!”
“He was squirming around so I let him walk around. And for your information I had my eyes on him until you called me.” Jacob tried his best to explain his side of the story without going too far.
“Don’t you dare blame this on my Jacob!” she snapped back.
“I’m not but you need to calm down and quit yelling at me!”
“I just don’t understand how you could ever lose our son! He’s probably confused and crying his eyes out by now Jacob. I’m just concerned and you’re acting like it isn’t a big deal.” She was now tearing up herself with the exhaustion of the day drawn across her face.
Jacob embraced his wife and promised her everything was going to be okay. He would make it okay. Then, as if heaven was listening in on their stressful day and even worse problem, a Toys R Us staff member showed up dressed in jeans, a blue uniform, and her hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail. She was holding Alec and answered Jacob and Alena’s prayers. The small toddler was hiding his face and when he finally peeked his head around to the rest of his family his face appeared to be relieved. And despite his red, swollen eyes and face, he cracked an uneasy smile.
“Is this you’re son by any chance? I found him wondering by the legos and he started crying as soon as he looked around and couldn’t find you. He kept telling me he missed you both,” the staff member said.
Jacob and Alena’s emotions copied each other perfectly. Their eyes had a sparkle in them knowing what their son had said. They knew right then and there that they were good parents-no, they were great parents and it wasn’t their fault for this awful mistake. Alec ran over told his parents and Alena picked him up and showered him with kisses as her worries melted away. She had made it a point to talk to her child about this as soon as they got home, but right now she was just grateful he was in her arms.
“Lexie,” the girl said obviously picking up on Jacob’s struggle to guess her name.
“Thank you Lexie. You have been and incredible help and I honestly don’t know what we’d do without you.” Jacob admitted.
She smiled, “Just doing my job. No big deal”