Word Count: 595
Story: The Kidnapping Sickness
"It was nice to meet you, sweetie!"
Grandma pats his hand and is wheeled back into her room by the caretaker.
He doesn't understand. He has only just visited Grandma two months ago. How does she not know him anymore?
He turns to his mother with a question, he sees her retreating hastily back down the pink tiled hallway.
"Mommy!" He calls, trotting after her. "Mommy, wait for me!"
He catches up to his mother and wraps his arms through the dangling leather handbag, trying to pull her to a calmer pace.
"Mommy, does Grandma not remember me?" He wheels around to see his mother's face, hopping backwards to keep her bent face in view. A raindrop hits him square in the forehead, and he is alarmed into crying out. But he looks up and is even more frightened to see that his mother is crying.
"Are you okay, momma? Did you get hurt?" The little boy wants to find out, and his light-up sneakers squeak on the floor as he stumbles.
Finally, his mother slows down. But she still does not stop, nor does she respond to his questions.
He turns with his mother into a small lobby, deserted except for a monitor-faced secretary. He follows as his mother sinks into the closest velvet and wood chair. He can't tell if she's still crying because her hand is covering her eyes, and he climbs up next to her, tugging the hand away.
"Can I give you a hug, mommy?" He remembers that when he is upset, his mother always gave him hugs. He also knew that those hugs cheered both of them up.
"Oh, Christopher," He is pulled into her lap, and she sobs and laughs all at once. "I'm so sorry, Christopher."
"It's okay, mommy. But why are you sorry?" He needs to know. So much is happening. "Mommy, I don't understand."
He feels his mother's lips press into the top of his head in a kiss, and his hair feels tickly when her breath makes it move. After a few deep breaths, her voice reaches his ears.
"Chris, you're a big boy, aren't you? You're almost five and a half," She says. "I think you're old enough to understand."
"Understand?" He wriggles in her grip, trying to see her face again.
"You see, your grandmother is very sick, Christopher. And the kind of sickness she has, it gets worse and worse and worse, and the doctor's can't make it go away." She loosens her grip, and turns him to face her.
"Not even the smartest doctor?"
"Not even the smartest doctor," She acknowledges. "And Christopher, you have to understand that this is no ordinary sickness. It doesn't make grandma cough, or give her a fever, or even give her aches and pains in her bones."
"What? Then what does this sickness do, mommy?"
His mother takes a deep breath. "This is the kidnapping sickness. It kidnaps her memories, and locks them away so she forgets things." And he furrows his brow as his mother chokes to a stop.
"How can Grandma forget things? Big things, like you and me? Doesn't she love us?" He feels tears welling up in his eyes, encouraged by the free-flowing tears of his mother.
"Of course she does, Christopher. That's what you must understand. Even though the kidnapping sickness takes Grandma away from us, she is still there for us," His mother reaches up and flicks away his tears expertly. "Even though she can't remember us, she still loves us."
"Because love conquers all."