Billy’s escapade

Billy had been restless for days. We thought it was because it hadn’t stopped raining and he hadn’t been out of the house to play. When we woke up on the Saturday and the sun was shining I was relieved. “Let’s go on a big bike ride today,” I suggested, “somewhere new and different so it will be an adventure.” Grot boy agreed, hoping this would help Billy to settle down.

It was a decision that we regret still today, years later.

After studying our maps we decided on a ride that would include a ferry trip. Billy hadn’t been on a boat before and I was sure this would help him shake off his malaise. Ignoring his desultory “I suppose that will be nice” we packed a picnic lunch and map into the panniers, perching Billy on top in his favourite riding spot.

Despite our plan to do a much longer ride than usual, I cycled as fast as I could, hoping the exhilaration of whizzing along fast and racing down hills would be good for Billy. This didn’t stop his restlessness and wriggling but I got used to it and assumed he’d settle down eventually.

Billy missingAfter 35 kilometres we reached the beach close to the ferry terminal and stopped to check the map. Hopping off my bike, I was horrified to see that Billy wasn’t there. “He must have fallen off in the last couple of kilometres” grot boy said, trying to reassure me. “If we hurry back and get him we’ll probably still be able to make the ferry in time.”

I organised the search, telling grot boy “You search the left hand side of our path and I’ll search the right”. Back we went, and after every kilometre I told myself “I’m sure we’ll find him in the next little section of the ride, that’s an obvious place for him to have fallen off.” But as we got closer to home, I became less and less sure.

Eventually we arrived back home, without Billy, completely exhausted. The emotional trauma of losing him, combined with riding 70 kilometres without any break or rest, had left us with no energy to even talk about what each of us was going through.

Billy’s disappearance was cataclysmic. It raised some very troubling questions: would we ever see him again? did it mean we were bad teddy bear parents? would it result in the break up of our family? could grot boy and my relationship survive this disaster?

©, 2013


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