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This Thursday just gone was a very long day for me because of work and the journey home.

We had the Freshers Fair at the college, a chance for students both old and new to join after hours college activities. My team and I remained at two stalls for the entire 2 1/2 hours. Our table was not the most exciting of tables but it was still busy and I had lost most of my voice by the end of it. After that we had our meetings and then it was home time!

I always take the 15-20min bus route to work and back, but that day I felt like walking home which meant that I would be home 45mins later. Little did I know that fate had other plans for me…!

I had walked 2/3 of the way and almost passed the small supermarket on my right when I noticed a young boy, still in his school uniform, huddled against the wall and with dry tear marks down his cheeks. I looked around and saw no one approach the boy. I called out to him, approached him cautiously, and asked if he was by himself or with someone. He said that he lost his mum and he didn’t know where she was. He couldn’t tell me from which direction he had come or how he got there.

By his uniform I knew he wasn’t from the area and I asked if he lived nearby. He said he did, and before I knew it he was running down the road and I was right behind him. People kept looking at us suspiciously as we searched for his house; I guess it was strange seeing an Asian girl with a young black boy, who had tears still streaming down his face, marching down the road. But we kept going. Then we reached an alleyway and Jeremy (the boy) happily cried “This is the way“. So with great uncertainty I followed him down the path. It was still broad daylight, but it was 5:00pm and very quiet.

You know those stories you hear, the ones about people going missing because they fell for the ‘I’m-a-lost-child-and-I-need-help-finding-my-family’ and the next thing you see, their faces are on the missing persons list? Well that’s how I felt as we walked further into the alleyway and further away from the main road.

I kept asking him if he knew where he was going and if he was sure he recognised the path we were on, to which he kept replying in the affirmative. But then at times he would stop and look uncertainly up and down the path. Once he had done that a few times the panic inside me rose and I inwardly scolded myself for following him down the alleyway. I straight away told him to start walking back to the main road, but as soon as we were out of there I found myself following him down another alleyway. But this time he walked much faster and reassured me that this was definitely the way to his house.

I only let out my breath once Jeremy pointed to a green gate and said “This is my back garden. This is my house.” So we walked around and stood in front of his red door. The windows were closed but I still knocked on the door. It was already 5:45pm and I still hadn’t called the police. It was late and I didn’t know when Jeremy’s mum would come back, so after I explained  to Jeremy why I had to call the police, I did.

After explaining the situation and my location over the phone, the police asked me to stay on the line as I waited for an officer to come. But only a minute after making the call, I saw Jeremy’s mother walking towards us with a trolley full of shopping.

It all ended fairly quickly after that: Deborah (the mother) kept looking at Jeremy with a mixture of relief, anger and worry as tears rolling down her cheeks and she explained to the officer, who arrived at the scene soon after Deborah did, that her son had wandered off whilst she was shopping and that she had spent the past 45mins looking for him. My details were taken and one would think it would all end there. But the officer sent me away whilst he requested to go inside with Deborah and Jeremy to ask them more questions.

I then had to walk back down the same long road and pass the same hidden alleyways I had entered before, and the same supermarket I had found Jeremy in front of, before I made it home.

I would have told everyone about the adventure I had just survived, but I knew I would have been given the ‘Why do you always fall for the innocent victim routine with everyone? You can get yourself killed one day!‘ talk, so I silently went upstairs to my bedroom and crashed on the bed.