He found himself walking around aimlessly, forgetting who he was and how to think. He felt as if he was watching himself through other people’s eyes. He watched himself go into a bathroom and urinate into a toilet, feeling like a peeping Tom doing this. He slowly slipped back into himself and loosened from the grip of fear that had been suffocating him. He took some tissue and blew his nose, flushed the toilet and walked out of the stall. He washed his hands several times over, the hot water feeling good as it cleaned away the grime and blood which the previous events had caked him in. His hands were bruised, but not as damaged as he would have expected them to have been.

A man walked into the bathroom, he looked at the floor as he entered, and then looked up at Guillaume and gave a meek smile. It was clear that the smile was given just because he was uncomfortable to be in a bathroom with a child alone. He took himself into a stall and slammed the door closed, and bolted it with a bang and rattle. With this Guillaume left the bathroom and stood outside of it, standing still to think and clear his mind. People were looking at him as they passed, he guessed just because he was a child by himself, looking like he was waiting for his parent to return from the bathroom as he waited patiently. A woman with a flustered face pushed through the crowd, walked right up to him and grabbed him furiously. Leaning down, she placed her mouth against his ear, so close it almost made him go deaf for a moment as she spoke.

“Willy, where have you been?! I left you to go to the bathroom two hours ago, and now you are here anyway?! What game have you been playing, you annoying…”, she chocked back her words and left them lingering at the back of her upset throat. She cleared the lump from her throat and spoke again, in a clam and caring voice: “I’m sorry, I was just so worried.” She grabs his hand and pulls on it, leading him, “Let’s go home”. Guillaume was confused, his nickname was Gwilly, and he thought that this woman had called him Willy. Maybe she was here to take him home, although that struck him as odd: his father never reported him missing, just waited for him to return for his beating. He shook this thought off and ignored it, he was too tired and just wanted to go home. Somewhere warm where he could wash himself in the sink and sleep, sleep forever.

This soft handed woman led him on towards a kiosk, she spoke to the young man at the desk who had a small and thin pencilled-on looking moustache. He spoke slowly, in a thoughtful manner which suggested he was handling sensitive information. She explained how she had found him, and thanked the young man for making a missing person announcement in the supermarket. He stated how she was welcome, and just happy that it could be resolved without needing to involve the police and a mass panic. She expressed annoyance at how she had found him where she had left him, but when she checked there with her first search he clearly wasn’t there. She had even entered the male bathroom and opened each stall. The young man gave a weak smile and shrug, and carried on with whatever work he was doing before she had bothered him.

She squeezed Guillaume’s hand as if with warmth and tenderness and led him outside to a car. She strapped him in next to her and repeated herself. “Let’s get you home for a bath and some food, Willy.” He was too tired to really respond, he leaned his chin on his chest and promptly fell asleep dribbling all over his shirt. She pulled the car into a small pathway that led to a garage after a short drive. She didn’t open the door to the garage, she just parked, turned off the engine and let out a soft sigh, as if letting steam out of a kettle that had boiled a few moments before. She looked at the young boy, his missing coat and smiled at him. She unstrapped herself, let herself out of the car and then opened his side of the car. Reached in, wrapping her arms around him he let out a soft voiced reply to being picked up, he simply said ‘Mommy’. She sighed and kicked the door closed trying to make as little noise as possible. She took him inside and up the stairs and pushed a door open with a familiar creek. She placed him gently on a bed, and left the room. He opened his eyes and could hear dripping. Steam was entering the room. He, in his half awake way assumed it was a bath being ran. The bed didn’t feel like his bed, but he was too exhausted to care.

He fell asleep, being woken a few moments later by the woman telling him to get up and go take a bath, she would leave his dinner on his desk and he can help himself and then go to bed. “And don’t forget to brush your teeth! I’m sick of waking you up just for that!” He had no idea what she meant, he always brushed his teeth when he woke up and before bed, like he was supposed to. He slid himself off the bed and pulled at his face. He placed his knuckle side into his eye sockets to rub at them. This made him feel a bit more awake. The light was off, but the room was lit-up by the hallway. The steam creeping through the doorway made him feel like he was in a misty warm mountain. He left the room and peeked around the door to see a bathroom. It was so steamy he could barely see, he threw off his clothes onto the floor and got into the bath. The water was extremely hot, but pleasant because of how dirty he felt. He slowly lowered himself into it as his limbs turned red like he was cooking himself. A carrot being boiled to a pulp. He could see a soap bar on the side and began washing himself. He was enjoying himself, feeling cleaner and cleaner, he noticed there was a boat toy in the bath which seemed unable to do anything but sink. It didn’t bother him, the game he was to play would just have to include a sinking boat then, wouldn’t it.

As he played with the boat, the woman entered the room and sat on the toilet. Guillaume out of sheer embarrassment, looked down, accidentally staring at his genitals. He was already bright red from the bath and steam, so she didn’t seem to notice or care that he was looking shy. She leaned forward and picked up his clothes, leaving a towel on the toilet lid for him. He waited a few minutes just to make sure she wasn’t going to come back, stood himself up, released the plughole and stepped out of the bath. Patting himself with the huge towel, which was clearly for an adult and could have been wrapped around him several times. He wrapped the towel around him as securely as he could, and was about to feel too nervous to open the door and leave the room, but he realised the door had never been closed in the first place.

He left the bathroom and entered the room with the bed in it, fumbling for the light switch, he found it with a click and pulse of light which lit-up the room full of toys, posters and wooden furniture like a desk and set of chairs, and a bed which was built in a way to resemble a race car. He liked it, fresh clothes were on the bed. He held them up and didn’t recognise them, but put them on anyway. They were pyjamas. He could see a bowl on the desk which has mist rising from it and a small plate with a few pieces of bread. He ran over to it and swallowed the contents of the bowl of soup almost all in one go, then he used the bread to eat the rest. He didn’t know what to do with the cutlery so he left it where he found it, and returned to the bathroom. He found a child’s toothbrush in the medicine cabinet and a set of the same toothbrushes in a small box. He threw the toothbrush in the bin by the door, and opened a new one and brushed his teeth.

He returned to the room with the race car bed and felt much better. He felt clean, relaxed, full of food, and his mint tasting mouth made him feel sleepy and ready for bed. He turned off the light and closed the door, putting his hands in front of him he found the bed, worked his way to the top from the bottom and got into it. The sheets over him felt great, like being hugged by an old friendly woman who likes your cute face. He fell asleep before he knew he was even beginning to. He remembers being stirred by the woman entering, saying goodnight and taking the cutlery out. He was also woken up by a man saying he loved him and kissing his face as his bristles cut into Guillaume’s cheek. He just lay there with eyes wide open, but it was too dark to see anything so the man didn’t notice. The man then left silently, closing the door behind him. Guillaume was uncomfortable, but soon fell asleep again out of sheer exhaustion.

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