Mystery Drama

As I walked along the rough, cement sidewalk, the snow took on an almost translucent look, reflecting the clear, blue-grey sky above and crunching underneath my boots. I looked up briefly, glancing up at the glass store displays and back down at my burnt orange scarf, timidly making way for fellow passer-by's. Once they were past, I ventured to look up again.

Just in time, I thought. I would have walked right past the store if I had not been paying better attention or had been further distracted by even more...people.


CcClclank! I pushed hard, and the bells above the push door jingled. A white-haired lady in various knits of assorted patterns wobbled in my direction, and I courteously held the door open, venturing a polite smile. Upon her exit, I redirected both my gaze and focus towards my mission. Reaching into deep pockets, my hands retrieved and uncrumpled a scanty piece of paper (that I had apparently decided would suffice as a grocery list). I walked forward slowly, quickly scanning the scribbled contents:




Laundry soap

Toilet paper

Poptarts. I had been cramming for a test for days now. I really know how to take care myself. So much so...I need laundry detergent. I have not taken time to wash a load for...fine! I admit it. I conceded. It had been too long.

”HHhhuhhh….”I sighed deeply, looking up. I realized I had only made it 6 feet from the door and -- 

I looked over to my right, then walked straight, frantically searching the aisles. My suspicions were only confirmed; the store was ghosted. Empty. No faces, bodies, or sounds. Just a medley of warm and harsh lights, many long aisles, and whirring refrigerators that only seemed to add to the eerie atmosphere.

Suddenly, I realized what I had done for the elderly lady had been a lot more than courteous. I would have wanted out of here, too. And I am all alone. Or saw I thought.

So, without thinking, I quickly decided to follow suit. I began speed-walking towards the door, each tap of my boots punctuating my fear and increasing my desire to be carried even more swiftly towards the exit.

The door was just in sight, and what--

Thmawack! I fell forward onto the cold, vinyl. Face to the floor, I peered out of the corners of my eyes and behind me.

What? A blanket?

Bewildered, I turned right-side up, my eyes sharply retracing the steps I had just taken.

A wrapped bundle lay just to the left of the aisle entrance around the refrigerator corner, right next to a stack of shopping baskets.

For some reason, I decided to come closer, instead of bolting for the door like I had planned. I crawled forward.

“Oh my God,” I mouthed.

It was a baby! A little girl. I picked her up off the ground and held her close in my arms.

Why is she--Where is--I had almost tripped over--Why would-- 

I suddenly remembered what I had seen before I fell: it was snowing. I cast my gaze left, out past the windows. It wasn’t just snowing. I carried her over to the windows and stared out that frenzy they called an Westhath snowstorm, and anyone who has ever lived in this town, or in our state, long enough knows what he’s in for; you can’t go but a few feet out without not being able to see anymore. Trying to walk out in one of these storms was like asking for a one-way ticket to the land of no return. Except, I would have been asking for two.

This was surreal, but I came to my senses; all of that was besides the point. The better question was what I was going to do.

There was certainly no way I was going to take the baby out to brave the three-mile walk back to my roommate and I’s place. I walked over to the cash register and picked up the phone. I tried dialing 9-1-1, but it was no use. I hung the phone back on the receiver. On pins and needles, I cautiously began to lay the baby down on the checkout stand, praying she would not stir, but she started to whimper.

“Oh, sshhh, sshhhh…” I soothed, my voice quieting to a whisper. Though she calmed quickly, I became passingly aware of the unstable nature of a baby’s existence.

I dug deep into my pockets, pulling out my cellphone. I didn’t know if it would be of any more use than the store telephone, but the only sensible thing to do was to try.

I scrolled down the list of contacts. My phone hadn’t been working lately, and the contacts were all out of order. Mom. I scrolled past her contact. Her and I had not spoken for years, and I did not exactly think she would be the person to ask for help. I guess you could say she said a hard enough time raising me, and I figured she barely did, too. Finally, I reached the right contact, and dialed.

Come on, work! 


Odd as it was, our considerably sized, small-town supermarket only had one, single-file, push door, that served as both exit and entrance to the varied supplies it contained. Ironic I didn’t walk straight out that door. Probably would have been foolish, too, I decided. Even more ironic, I realized that I was the one, of all people, to be doing this--caring for a baby. In a supermarket. In a blizzard.

My thoughts shifted back. The door. I needed to try and stand outside and see if I could get a signal.

I winced at the thought of moving her again, but I knew I couldn’t help it. So I procrastinated to survey my surroundings. I needed a plan. I came to decide I would pick her up, then walk down the aisles in search of something soft to line one of the shopping carts with. Still, I hesitated.

“Phew,” I exhaled. Okay.

I finally picked her up, feeling as if I were holding the world’s most precious possession in my own two clumsy hands. A shadow of doubt came over me, relaxing my jaw and darkening my eyes. I didn’t even have to see myself in mirror to know.

A voice said, What are you doing, taking care of a baby?

I don’t know. We could be stuck here all night…

You are worthless.

I know I’m not that much. So why are you here?

Pacing, I kept my eyes on the shelves and my feet on the ground, even if my mind was trying to go somewhere else. But it would not go away.

Are you really that stupid? It persisted. You will never be able to take care of a baby. Don't you remember who you are? Remember.

One thing the voice said actually got my attention: the baby was all alone. I couldn’t help but think what a perfect metaphor the little girl was to myself: trapped in a cold blizzard, inside a supermarket, all on her own. What a crazy world. Except, she was not all alone; I was there, and the lights were still on. I felt something brave inside me put my foot down: today was not the day for doubt.

I stopped dead in my tracks and back a few spaces. A dog bed. With raised edges. Good. 

I reached out my right hand and grabbed it, plopping it down in the cart and lowering her into the make-shift, metal crib.

I can’t explain it, but something in me triggered. I felt a love I had not felt for so long. A peace I could not place. Something in me thought that maybe…

“You’re not lost?”

I whipped around, just in case someone was there, but no-one was.

I had lost track again. The cellphone. I had to try to get a signal. I began to push the cart-turned-stroller with me, but, on better judgement, left it still. Besides, I would probably need to do some more “shopping.”

I walked briskly towards the front. It was getting darker, and the storm was only growing stronger. I pulled on the door. It wasn’t opening. So I exerted myself even more forcefully.

Jammed, I groaned.

I had to try again, so I pressed my fingers to the glass, but my nerves were instantly repulsed by the gelid glass. I tried to ease the cold shock, rubbing my hands against my shoulders. No signal for you or for me, baby girl. At least its warm in here...

But I began to second-guess the truth of that last statement. After all, I was wearing a heavy coat, and she was not wearing much except, well, a onesie. I was not convinced babies keep very warm, either. Even with my limited experience.

As if right on cue, I heard broken-up cries. I dashed back over to the shopping baskets, picking up her blanket from off the floor and shaking it out as I ran back down aisle 9.

I quickly resumed my hushing noises, reaching out to touch her hand before gently placing the soft blanket around her petite frame. She felt rather warm.

Milk. She needed milk. I thought I had seen diapers and other baby stuff on Aisle 6 before, but I was not sure. Either way, didn’t babies drink milk warm? How am I going to heat it?

But this was Milton’s, and they had about the oddest assortment of goods one could think of (being the only true store for a good fifty miles), so I figured I could come up with some kind of solution. I compiled another grocery list:




Baby bottle



Sleeping bag?

Some heat source

After grabbing another cart from the front of the store, I gathered the needed items as best as I could.

I returned to Aisle 9, our home base, with the cart. I paused to think and realized I probably had better check the baby’s diaper before doing anything else.

“Okay…here-re-e we go.” I carefully carried her, cushioned like a hotdog inside the pillowy bed, laying it down on ground level.

“I have to ad-d-dmit I have never changed a diaper before…” I confessed to the little one. “But I am going to try.” And try I did.

With that completed, my mission was to feed the baby, but I hadn’t managed to find something good for heating the milk up with. But all I could do was work with what I had, and I didn’t have anything to do that with.

I carried the water, formula, and milk over to the cashier counter to mix the contents together. For some reason I decided to act like a normal person and go all the way to the front just so I could do it on the counter. Sprawling the contents of my grasping arms on it, I stepped back, feeling tired. A little crestfallen. I put my weight on the opposing counter, leaning against it.

Pheww…I exhaled deeply. I did not get how anyone could just leave their baby here. What kind of wild scenario would make--I did not quite finish my thought, as I realized that whoever that capable, or incapable, person was, she or he was a representative of the human race. If they did it, why couldn’t--or wouldn't have--I. It could very well have been me. I could have made that same mistake. I could have been that person. We are all just so messed up. A hopelessness came to weigh on my shoulders. I just felt like closing my eyes, but as I looked down, my eyes shot back open just as quickly. Under the cashier’s table was a heater!

I smiled. There seemed to be some kind of Divine provision made for me. For her. It gave me hope.

I crouched down, crawling on my hands and knees to retrieve the cord. I pulled back up, cord in hand. I plugged it in and turned the heater on. Waiting for it begin to radiate, I read the back of the formula container, but I couldn’t find anything other than the water to powder ratio. It was time to wing it.

So I tiptoed back home and grabbed the saucepan, mixed the milk together in the bottle, and placed the pan on top of my oven, waiting.

I had to say, this was a challenge, and I never did have much confidence in myself, but I felt an optimism--a spark of life in me.

Eventually, the milk did warm up, and it was time to feed her and settle down for the night.

I came back to the aisle, spread out the blanket I had found, and placed her small bed besides mine.

As I held her in my arms and fed her, a strange thought came over my head. She could be mine, I thought. It wasn’t ridiculous, after all…or biologically impossible, but if I were her mom, I would have be a young mother. All 18 years of me. I almost laughed as I looked down at her perfection--her perfectly rounded eyes, her soft skin, her serenity--and compared it to all my inadequacy and naivety.

Life had not been that good to me, but I felt a determination rising in me. More determined than ever that maybe my life could be more than all of--the foster care, the neglect, the stuttering, my flaws, my parent’s mistakes, my mistakes.

If anything could make me change--my mind and my everything, maybe


I awoke. The sun was shining bright, and light poured in the wide, long windows. I quickly remembered where I was, and ran to the front of the store to get a good look out. I heard a motor. They must be trying to clear the street, I thought. I turned my neck to look up at a nearby clock. 10 a.m. I had gone to sleep quickly, but I had slept as fitfully as, well, a baby.

I walked down the line of windows, trying to lean back and angle my body and eyes as far as I could just to get a good look down the street.

It wouldn’t be long until…


I looked at the police officer, and, as I handed the baby girl over, I realized I had never been responsible for anyone else before. Not like this.

“Will she…will sh-she be oh-okay?” I asked.

It seemed like one of the dumbest, yet most sincere questions I had ever asked.

“She will be,” his strong voice affirmed. He smiled at me as he cradled her in his arms and finished, “if more people like you stick around.”

People like me. I didn’t know if the person who had showed herself the past 24 hours was the me I knew. If she was, she was a very different kind of me, and I did not know if this was going to be much like her, either:

“What will you-u do?”

“We will probably have to transport her to a temporary placement with a trustworthy couple outside of town until her situation can be further investigated,” he replied.

“Is there a-a-anything I can do?” I asked.

“No, lady. Not right now, at least." He smiled again, "The most you can do is to fill out a report and give us your contact information. You have done your part, here.”

I nodded, reluctantly accepting the fact that my physical grasp on her was gone and, with that, any control over what happened to the little one. Yet, I did feel a small comfort. And, in other ways, the peace I had come to know was still with me.

Maybe my mom had failed. Maybe people failed. Maybe this world was horrible. Maybe I could be more. But I had been a mother, even if just for one midnight.

I walked away, filled with a strange sea of emptiness and completion. I felt like I was leaving that store with something that money could never buy. And, no matter what happened, maybe I had given some of that to her, too--hope.

August 01, 2020 03:31

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20:07 Aug 01, 2020

I love the way she over came her insecurities and grew as a person because of the needs of a precious little baby. Great story.


Hope Reynolds
19:51 Aug 02, 2020

Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I think the story is a good reminder that we are all more capable than we think, or at least that certain situations bring out different things in us.


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Katariina Ruuska
01:46 Dec 04, 2020

Loved it! I loved how her and the baby saved each other :)


Hope Reynolds
03:18 Dec 04, 2020

Thanks, Katariina!


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Anna Mosqueda
14:28 Nov 03, 2020

Aw this was such a sweet story! You are a great writer, seriously!! I'm so glad I found you page because I love your writing style! Like the other commenter said, I love how we could see her change as a person:)


Hope Reynolds
00:10 Nov 04, 2020

Oh my gosh, thank you so much!! I am so glad you feel that way. Thanks for the follow. I would definitely love to Reedsy friends!! :)


Anna Mosqueda
00:20 Nov 04, 2020

No problem! And of course, I love making Reedsy friends!


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