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On Saturday we were at the Newtown Festival; a single day where a community more used to being described by estate agents as “up and coming” becomes a vibrant sprawl of music, stalls and food from every part of the globe.

We met up with a friend, and meandered up as far as the main hub before stopping to debate our next move. Despite it being a distance of about 10 paces, and despite there being a ratio of one adult to every child, we somehow came to a rest one person short.

One short person short.

We immediately launched into a volley of “I thought she was with you”s but it was pretty obvious that Esme had gone missing.

Missing as in lost.

We lost a child.

Growing up, there were a few occasions where I turned around to find that my parents weren’t where I had left them: Crowded shops, busy streets, in the blink of an eye they went from reassuring backup to AWOL. I remember the tight knot of fear that hit my stomach, the sudden feeling that every person around me was out to do me harm.

I had always assumed that I would have the same reaction as a mother on the other end of that deal so imagine my surprise when I found that I wasn't in the slightest bit concerned.

There was no fear, I didn't look around me and see infinite dismembering or sex trafficking possibilities; in actual fact I have to admit I would be hard pressed to say I felt anything much at all.

Thinking on the other hand, I was doing by the truck load.

My mind ran through a long list of likely hazards for a girl of 3 who lists her favourite pastimes as “daydreaming” and “beating shit up”.

There was no traffic, there were no men with large nets and child catcher wagons, in fact, looking around me the worst hazard I could identify was the frightening amount of sugar that was on sale.

We split up to search: I walked a side street looking for the orange balloon I had tied to her wrist ticking off the list of stalls and rides that I passed until I ran out of road and was forced to admit that I hadn't found her.

I mooched back towards our meeting point wondering what was wrong with me that my beloved child could be lost and I was not worried.

What kind of mother did that make me?

By the time I was in sight of the others, Esme had been found staring longingly at show cone vendor literally five steps from where we had all stopped. 

The only emotion I could see on her face was a slight sense of disappointment that whichever adult had gone to retrieve her had not been persuaded to part with money in return for something that looked like it had been scraped from roof of my freezer.

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