A/n: ~This story personally sticks with me only because something similar happened to my cousin and me when we were toddlers. I'm about to make this SO cliché but you might like it. Haha, Enjoy!

::Dedication to My Silver Heart for being a sweet, supportive gal, and another Canadian TEP fan just like myself! :) Thanks hun.


July 13, 2011

by: Her Head in the Clouds

And when the Happy Meals and ice cream didn't work, the last resort Alex's Dad could think of was taking his little girl across the shopping lot to the toy store beside the kitchenware depot.

He'd innocently thought that a sneak away from her mother to get his daughter's ears pierced as a surprise birthday present had been a good idea. But Alex's cries and tears of exaggerated pain told him otherwise.

She hiccupped and wailed to the best that her little three-year-old body could, and a cute sundress, side ponytail, and tummy full of Ronald McDonald French fries wouldn't change that.

"Daddy, my ears! My ears still hurt!"

Her Dad bit his lip worriedly and clutched her tiny fist in his own as he carried her across the pavement.

"Awh don't worry, honey!" he said quickly his youthful features all strewn with concern.


"Shh, shh, everything's gonna be alright! Look where I'm taking you, yeah?" He shifted Alex in his hold so that as she leaned against his right shoulder, she could see the toy store coming closer. As Alex stared to it, the thought of pinching her red earlobes where two tiny diamond studs sat was suddenly gone from her mind.

"Can we go see the toys, Daddy?" she asked cautiously. Every time she asked Mum, she was always given the excuses, 'they didn't have time' or 'You have too many toys already Alex'. But her Dad was different.

"Can we?" He said excitedly. "Of course we can, Alex! I bet there are a lot of nice toys for us to see!" Despite his own childlike excitement for going in, Alex's Dad more than anything only wanted to see his little girl smile again. And when Alex started kicking her feet impatiently, after checking around for no cars driving by, he eased her onto the concrete and watched as she soared off ahead of him, in her cute little white shoes, toward the automatic doors.

The smell of cheap plastic and rubber hit her nose and a cool wind from the store's air conditioning sent a rush of excitement run deeper down her spirit. Not even sparing a second glance to her father (or afterthought toward her newly pierced earlobes), Alex ran down an aisle of brightly colored boxes with pictures of robots and jungle play sets.

The little girl oogled and poked each shiny box with an action figure inside until she got to the end of the aisle. Then getting on to the next one, she reached out and grabbed a small kit for building a police station, scrunching her face in dislike.

"Robbie always makes fun of me when I can't build this right!" she complained out loud about a boy in her preschool who teased her constantly about this dumb toy.

Putting it back on the shelf politely, Alex eyed the rest of the aisle quickly before moving on to another. She didn't like boys' toys and didn't find building cars or towers that fun.

"Alex?" her Dad called loudly still coming through the entrance. She didn't say anything back; she was too excited and didn't want to wait for him to catch up. So deeper into the store she went.

Eventually after three more aisle stops, Alex came across a long aisle of Barbies and Polly Pocket sets.

Their pinks, and purples, and blondes were towering so high up to the ceiling above that she could never reach for any doll she wanted past the third shelf!

"Oooh..." Alex whined when she spotted a Barbie she really wanted on the...

One, two, three, four... Fourth!

Fourth shelf, That Barbie had beautiful blonde hair braided on the side and a long blue gown with sparkles that she was going to wear with Ken to a party.

"I want that one," she said to nobody but herself.

As she continued to stare at it, she could hear other kids crying in the background and that strange lady who talked in the ceiling asking one of the toy store workers to go to where Mums and Dads paid money for toys. Maybe they were looking for her Daddy. He never found her yet so maybe he was lost.

Or maybe...she was lost.

The more Alex thought about it, the more she kept squeezing a fistful of her dress in worry - an old habit she did when she got scared.

She knew from TV about all the bad people who took kids like her away from their Mums and Dads. They sometimes liked to go where children went and sneak up behind them and then-!

"NO! Daddy!"

And just like that Alex bolted from the Barbie doll aisle and tried looking for the swishing doors in the front. Wanting that Barbie on the fourth shelf was long from her mind, just as her hurting ears.

Alex didn't want to get taken away. She wanted to be with her parents. She wanted her Mum, her Daddy. Especially her Daddy because he was still in the shop looking for her.

She had to find him.

But Alex took a wrong turn, going right instead of left, and found that no matter what aisle she took from that point, only seemed to take her in circles, and deeper into the store.

She past two families, and three old ladies who looked just like her grandma. Two older boys almost ran into her, and a baby girl who stared at her as she past the stroller began to wail loudly.

Alex was dizzy, her head turned everywhere but not a sign of the red Lego rocket ship told her she was near the front whooshing doors. The three-year-old felt her eyes grow wet. Thinking she might never find her Daddy this way, Alex decided to hide and wait until she saw/heard him. That way no bad people could hurt her or try to take her away.

An aisle filled with stuffed animals always looked like the safest, warmest part of the toy store. She instantly felt comfort and protection looking the dogs, kittens, and giraffes up and down the shelves. She even smiled a little when she realized that at the end of the aisle was a corner piled tall with big Teddy bears.

"I'll hide inside behind the Teddy bears! No one can see me there!" she mumbled to herself.

When Alex got close, she reached out and grabbed a gigantic Winnie the Pooh and dragged it toward her. She huffed and giggled; it was almost twice her size! When there was enough space on the floor behind it, she walked around and kneeled behind it, fixing the other big Teddy bears into a wall and making a fort around her.

Alex felt her tiny heart pump wildly, her curly brown ponytail kept hitting her in the face as she left and right, up and down to make sure she was completely hidden.

When she was sure no one could see her from the front, Alex leaned back and sat cross-legged surrounded by a sea of fur, stretching her sundress in the process.

The lady's voice from the ceiling spoke again, and the sound of kids yelling were far away. And when the occasional footsteps got louder, Alex reached out blindly on her left and grabbed a blue stuffed elephant, clutching it to her heart in fear as she waited...

Two minutes past…

When no one seemed to be coming, Alex carefully raised her head over Scooby Doo's ears and looked out to the end of the aisle. She felt like such an adventurer on a spy mission! If only Daddy was here to see her so brave… but he would once he found her.

When no one suddenly appeared, she sighed loudly and plopped back down onto the cold white-tiled floor. Finally getting a look at the stuffed toy she grabbed, she smiled widely and patted the elephant head.

"You're cute," she complimented to the elephant. Stroking its periwinkle blue fuzz, Alex instantly grew attached to it.

"I'm gonna call you…uhm…Mona? Ew, no…Mimi! Yeah, Mimi! You are.. Mimi the Elephant! And I like you!"

Alex motioned the little elephant to nod in between her hands. She made it lift a front leg and Mimi waved back up to her.

"Hi Mimi, nice to meet you!" And when the introductions were over, Alex huffed again and put Mimi down in front of her as she began to pick the string from her sundress.

"I'm glad I find you…" Alex began quietly. "You can watch over me until Daddy finds me. And I know he will, he's the best finder when we play Hide and Seek."

She quickly sat up on her knees and went to look over the wall of giant stuffed animals again.

"I hope he finds me soon…" And when she sat back down, she quickly reached out to grab Mimi and hugged her gently until the sounds of people coming came closer.

Alex was always a very good listener.

When time moved on...

The frayed blue elephant was tucked safely into the sheet folds of her towel closet, well guarded and kept nearby as a constant reminder of comfort.

After her Dad found her, along with the help of the toy store Manager and another worker, Alex ran out from the Teddy bear fortress and up into his arms.

"What were you thinking, sweetheart!" said her Dad's frantic voice a distant voice in a fog now.

"I knew you would find me before bad people do, Daddy. It's ok. I had Mimi to protect me!"

"Who? This cute little friend?"he smiled relieved as he shook the little elephant in her fist. Alex smiled and nodded her head.

"Mimi made me feel safe." The reply still fresh as day in her memory.

"Well, she can come home with us and protect you for as long you want, honey."

She never really told anyone that story, expect for Amanda, her Mum, and her sister (the latter of whom always mocked and teased her for it). It wasn't a story that needed to be, it was a warm secret. So occasionally, when Alex strummed her guitar in her room, she spared a passing glance to the closet across her room.

Mimi may not have been so important to her as she got older as it was back then, but she was still important nonetheless. So like everything else, like everything that mattered, and like the real-life example that ate strawberries in her backyard each morning, Alex never got rid of Mimi the elephant because for that simple fact, she made her feel safe.

~Turned out cornier than I expected but my heart is still in the idea. :) Sorry if three-year-old Alex didn't sound as a three-year-old should; I haven't been in the presence of any lately so I had to commit to memory. But I hope you enjoyed to the read. We all have toys we cherished so don't think you don't know what I'm talking about! Lol. Well c'est la vie, oui? I have many more ideas to come but for now, I have other projects to commit to (and having a fabulous summer! Woo!) so hopefully I'll return within a week or so. Until then, thanks for reading folks! Stay gold. :)

Much love, Abby~