"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Involuntary Runaway

It's a large, open air shopping mall. A mother stands at an ATM machine on the outside of the mall, facing the street. Her daughter, about 2 1/2 years old, is sitting quietly in one of those rented kiddie strollers. It is red plastic with racing flames and "Mall Racer #5" painted along the side. The woman has her back to the child, concentrating on her transaction.

The stroller starts to slowly roll away from the ATM machine; it is apparently on an incline that leads toward the street. The mother doesn't immediately notice. When the little girl is distanced sufficiently from her mother that she realizes what's happening, she begins to cry. Her wail increases in volume as the distance between her and her mother grows -- and the distance between her and the street lessens.

The mother is startled to attention and races to her daughter, reaching her at the same time as a passing Good Samaritan. She gives him an embarrassed smile and thanks him sheepishly. Feeling safe once again, the child's wails turn from terror to indignation.