As is the way of disasters, this one started well. Organisation was sound, age-appropriate presents were duly sourced without draining my will to live or the family finances, my child was behaving beautifully and I was feeling somewhat smug. This, I believe, is known as hubris and verily verily my nervous system was about to crumble like the House of Atreus.
Thus at 11am, with 40 minutes to spare before I needed to head off for the memorial, I didn't see the flare of danger when Matei went off to investigate tricycles and Z found himself mesmerised by tiny helmets and bycicle seats for children. However, 15 minutes later I was feeling somewhat less relaxed when we hadn't moved despite a flurry of customer service activity and so, still determined to seize organisation by the balls I told Z:
'I'll take the buggy and the child to Tesco's next door to buy some food for the memorial, and I'll meet you by the car'
and he said:
'Please watch the child and make sure that he doesn't get decapitated' and with a flustered sigh I went off to locate the offspring who seemed determined to weld himself to as many objects of transportation as possible. After five minutes of that fun, I saw that Z was gone. Vanished, with the buggy.
5 minutes of steering the child and the tricycle he had attached himself to through the shops using the power of suggestion and the odd shove didn't reveal sightings of Z, although it did bring us face to face with a man dressed in a Spiderman costume (creepier than I can say). By now it was 11:25 and my good humour was vanishing faster than human rights in China.
After Z's failure to answer his phone, I decided that the time for diplomacy had passed, so I swept Matei up from his vehicle with a bright: "Let's go find Daddy!" amid rigid-backed wailings and fist flailings and cries of: "Don't want Daddy! Want Tricycle! Triiiiiiceeeeecle"
By 11:30 I was racing around the store with adrenaline pumping, radiating grim determination and despair like Jack Bauer, while an unwiledly bag dug into my shoulder and a toddler repeatedly hit me on the head, chanting "Tricycle! Trycicle!" and my mind swivilled between homicide and divorce.
And then it was 11:35 and my husband was still nowhere, nowhere and I could feel my blood pressure rising exponentially and the prickling of furious tears in my eyes and Matei was still hitting me and still screaming like he was being flayed alive and everyone in the whole shop was looking at me and when he managed to wrench my handbag off my shoulder and hurl it away in an arc of frefalling Oyster cards and loose change, adoption was the mildest of the fates I had in mind.
Instead I just plonked him on the floor with a furious hiss of 'Stay there!' and set about trying to restore my posessions with the blood pounding in my ears, battling between the desire to primal scream or strangle at least one male member of my family when I heard a cry of :It fell... it felll... and turned around ... and saw my child weeping heartbrokenly holding up a pound coin like a peace offering...
and everything slowed down...
and I sat on the floor with him and wept for 30 seconds with him because it was 11:45
and then I pulled it together and gave him a hug and said that everything was going to be all right...
And then Z phoned and I shrieked Where the fuck are you? and he said in offended tones I've been waiting in front of the car for 20 minutes, where the fuck are you
and then the earth ruptured, and the walls exploded in a shower of crashing masonry and sparks
although in the real world everything went on as before
and as I bore down towards the car it was probably a good thing overall that by then the burning power of my angst and rage had rendered me speechless.