Zara Williams, Contributor
Sharon disembarked the Knutsford Express with Ashley in tow.
She had never been to Kingston before, but Sharon had found a job with a good starting salary and decided to go to the interview. She would have left Ashley at her home in St Ann, but there was no one to take care of her.
Sharon's boyfriend left her after he discovered she was with child, and her mother had disowned her after she "brought shame to the family".
She had no other living relatives that she knew of, and her friends were busy with their own lives, so Ashley went with Sharon wherever she went.
Sharon gripped Ashley's tiny hands tightly as she manoeuvred her way through the dense city crowd. She did not expect the area to be congested, and supposed that there was a party in the vicinity.
Her suspicions were confirmed when the smell of sweat and alcohol began to permeate the air, and dancehall music blasted through large speakers at full volume. Lustful men examined her closely, and women eyed her with confusion. She noticed their stares, and hurried away, not wanting Ashley to be exposed to the 'party crowd'.
As she exited the community in search of her interviewer's place of business, she noted that she could only hear one set of footsteps.
The second, lighter pitter-patter was gone. Where was Ashley? Sharon dashed back the way she had come, looking frantically for her seven-year-old.
The crowd now seemed thicker to her, and she could not find anything other than drunken men, young girls and smashed bottles of rum. The music blared in her ears as she scrambled, trying to find her baby, but to no avail. Ashley was lost in the sea of alcohol.
Sharon extracted herself from the party area hurriedly, and tried to think logically, but she was constantly distracted by thoughts of Ashley. Was she scared? Was she crying? Was she calling for her mother? Did she even know what was going on?
Sharon's mind and heart raced as she tried to come up with a solution. She couldn't call anyone for help: her mother would simply hang up on her in frustration, and her so-called friends could care less about her. Her child's father had been out of reach since Ashley was conceived, so he was definitely out of the picture.
Going to a police station was the best option, Sharon decided. She asked for directions to the nearest one and, when she arrived, relayed her story tentatively to the policemen. Sharon was unsure they would believe her story, and was fearful they would jeer at her stupidity, but the policemen did not seem condescending. In fact, they seemed quite apathetic to her problem.
A burly policeman told her in a monotone that they would file Ashley under a 'missing persons' list and that they would search the nearby area, but this did not appease Sharon. She did not want Ashley's face to appear on television as a missing person, as her mother would definitely be angry.
Sharon pleaded with the policeman, but he shooed her out of the station with a dismissive wave of his hand. Sharon trudged dejectedly out of the police station, sat on the curb and cried for her child. Night was falling, and no one would be able to find Ashley in the dark.
Sharon felt alone in the world, and lamented over her carelessness and bad fortune. She should have checked to ensure Ashley was with her at all times. She should have given Ashley a phone. And, now she'd missed her interview. It didn't matter now. Nothing mattered. Ashley was gone, and she had no way of finding her.
Sharon was lost in these thoughts when a hefty policewoman noticed her outside the station. The policewoman asked why Sharon was outside at night, and Sharon sobbed out her sad tale to the woman.
The policewoman consoled Sharon and vowed to help her find her child. The two traversed the dark streets in search of Ashley, and approached the party venue. Sharon was not as disillusioned as she was before, because the kindly policewoman was willing to help. Sharon and the policewoman entered the venue and immediately saw Ashley holding her potential employer's hand.
The interviewer explained that he was worried when she didn't arrive for the interview and so searched the immediate area where he found a lone child crying. He asked the child where her mother was and deduced from her answer that her mother was Sharon.
He had selflessly waited four hours with the child until Sharon returned. In the end, Sharon managed to find Ashley and got a secretarial job at a law firm.