After getting lumber, we needed some screws, sandpaper and wood finish. We stopped at a large hardware store adjacent to a mall that had just opened as we arrived. The items we needed were on the second floor. Amelia asked could she stay on the first floor in the toy section while Natalie and I browsed upstairs. Thinking we would be quick, I allowed her to stay downstairs provided she did not leave the store. She agreed. It did not take too long to make our purchases. But in that time Amelia disappeared. A quick look around the store brought no results .A clerk stated he thought he saw her leave through the door that led into the mall. We exited that way and began our search for a missing child.
Even though the mall had just opened and was fairly empty, did not help. Amelia was nowhere to be seen. We were joined n our search by two security guards. One escorted Natalie around the premises searching while I joined the other in a room full of television monitors that scanned the mall and its parking garages. I kept my eyes on the screens while the guard made announcements over the PA system asking Amelia to use one of the red security phones located throughout the mall to call her dad who was missing her. For what seemed too long a time, I stood watching Natalie accompanied by a guard searching fruitlessly for Amelia. It did not help that a recent newspaper story detailed the abduction of a young boy and subsequent finding of his body in Lake Ontario.
Finally, I asked the security guard who persisted making announcements, whether or not his announcements were broadcast into individual stores or just common mall space. He indicated he was only heard in the corridors. Having an idea I went in search of Amelia in the individual stores. At the far end of the mall was a large department store that was sure to have a large toy section. Entering , I found directions and made it to a large display of stuffed animals. There in front was Amelia with her head tilted back taking in the sight of a display that reached to the ceiling. I sidled up to her and asked in a low voice, “Little Girl, do you know that you are missing?” She did not know, but was found. Upon questioning, Amelia let on that she thought as long as she had not went outdoors she was staying in the store as she was instructed. Grateful to have her retrieved, I made a better effort to keep an eye on her while we were away. We still had to negotiate another large city, one where most folks did not use English.