your children are missing
she is standing, shifting from foot to foot,
the crowd moving around her, an instantly forgettable figure.
she is not panicked yet. this is what normal kids do...which is a comfort to the parents of prodigies and heroes. normal children run off. normal children find everything more interesting than their own parents' plans. he doesn't even think of them as his family any more. he imagines he is from somewhere else, somewhere better. he tells them all the time.
try not to worry...try not to think about what might have happened.
but there are always those scenes. from the moment he was born, there were always those scenes that end with "...he is gone. and you are a bad mother." no part of that sentence is worse than the other.
she is searching more frantically now - they are supposed to be leaving. there is so much at home that needs doing. what if something happened? he's only a boy. he doesn't know how the world can swallow you up. he doesn't know how to protect himself - how to walk through the world unnoticed. he's altogether too kind - frighteningly kind. in the end, though she won't know this for years, that's what will kill him.
they searched all night and into the next day. there wasn't much else to do, and going over the same area over and over and over was preferable to stopping. if she stopped, she saw him dead. and knew she was, indeed, a very bad mother. and then, like that, it was all over. they found him. he wasn't sorry. he would do it again. and she was worried, but not like she thought she would be. because mary knew what other parents only suspect: your children are missing from the day they're born.