Ran by Dan Crawley
Mom took me to an outdoor mall after picking me up from kindergarten. In the middle of an atrium, enormous rocks were piled on each other like giant meatballs. She let me climb over them while she waited on a bench nearby.
I climbed higher than I’d ever ventured before on these rocks. Cresting the mountain. It felt like looking out my bedroom window on the second story of our house. Then I saw my mom wasn’t sitting on her bench. She was nowhere in sight. I climbed down the boulders fast and ran by the store fronts. I cupped my hands around my eyes and pressed my face against the glass doors. She was nowhere in sight. I ran.
Later in a department store, Mom tried to loosen the death grip my hand had on hers. She told me she was in a store right next-door to the rocks. “You’re a big baby,” she scolded me.
“So well-behaved,” a woman in line said to us. “How do you get your child to hold your hand like that?”
Dan Crawley is the author of Straight Down the Road (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2019), The Wind, It Swirls (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2021) and Blur (Cowboy Jamboree Press, 2023). His writing appears in Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, JMWW, Milk Candy Review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. Find him at https://twitter.com/danbillyc.