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The back of a little boy | Source: Pexels
The back of a little boy | Source: Pexels

I Found a Lonely Little Boy at the Subway Station Who Asked Me to Help Him Find His Parents

Prenesa Naidoo
Jun 20, 2024
01:49 P.M.

When Rachel is at the metro station, waiting for her friend, Mia, to show up, she notices a little boy looking lost. After approaching him, she realizes there's so much more than meets the eye.

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I stood on the platform of the metro station, checking my phone for the hundredth time. My friend Mia was always late, but today she was really pushing it. We were supposed to head to a thrift store and find outfits for an upcoming party.

A thrift store | Source: Midjourney

A thrift store | Source: Midjourney

I glanced around, trying to pass the time, when I noticed a little boy.

He was no older than seven or eight, sitting alone on a bench. His eyes were wide, and he clutched a tattered stuffed bunny.

I didn't think that I was maternal, but there was something about him that tugged at my heart.

An empty metro station | Source: Midjourney

An empty metro station | Source: Midjourney

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"Hey there," I said, walking over to him. "Are you lost? Are you waiting for someone?"

The boy looked up at me, his eyes filled with a mix of hope and fear.

"I can't find my parents," he whispered. "I don't know where to go, so I'm just sitting here."

A close-up of a little boy | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a little boy | Source: Midjourney

My heart ached for him.

"Do you want me to help you find them? We could go to the police and ask for help."

The little boy's eyes grew even wider.

A smiling young woman | Source: Midjourney

A smiling young woman | Source: Midjourney

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"No! Please don't go to the police!" he exclaimed, growing visibly anxious.

I sat down on the bench next to him, hoping that he would calm down.

"Why not?" I asked gently. "It's to ask for help."

A little boy covering his mouth | Source: Midjourney

A little boy covering his mouth | Source: Midjourney

"Because the police are looking for my parents," he said sadly. "You see, sometimes my parents have to shoplift food to feed me. Because of this, the police are looking for them. We're not bad people... we just need help."

I hesitated, unsure of how to navigate the situation. I could understand parents breaking rules just to make sure that their children were fed. Surely, there was a sense of justice to that.

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A person running through a grocery store | Source: Midjourney

A person running through a grocery store | Source: Midjourney

"Okay," I said firmly. "No police. But let's see if we can find them. Where do you think they might be?"

The little boy looked away quickly, and I couldn't understand what he was trying to do. His thoughts seemed to come and go really quickly.

"They go to the park sometimes," he said. "Can we go there? We can look for them?"

People at a park | Source: Midjourney

People at a park | Source: Midjourney

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"Yes, of course," I replied. "What's your name, by the way?"

He beamed at the question.

"I'm Tommy," he said. "And you?"

A person holding a child's hand | Source: Midjourney

A person holding a child's hand | Source: Midjourney

"I'm Rachel, Tommy, it's nice to meet you. Come on, let's get going."

We walked to the nearby park with Tommy clutching his bunny and my hand tightly. As we strolled through the park, his eyes lit up at the sight of a popcorn stand.

"Would you like some?" I asked him, sensing the excitement bubbling beneath his skin.

A popcorn stall in a park | Source: Midjourney

A popcorn stall in a park | Source: Midjourney

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"Yes, please!" he said, hopping from one foot to the other.

I smiled and bought him a bag.

"Here you go, darling," I said.

I imagined what I looked like. To anyone else, I could have been the boy's young mother who was just taking him around the park on a little adventure. I wondered if it suited me. I had never given children a second thought before.

A woman and a child walking | Source: Midjourney

A woman and a child walking | Source: Midjourney

"You should start thinking about children, Rachel," my mother would say. "Even if you're not sure about them. It's just nice to know where you stand on the idea."

"Yes," I would always reply. "I'm not dismissing the idea or anything, Mom. It's just that it's not such a pressing matter when you're young and still figuring out your life."

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"Fine," Mom would say. "I get that, but remember, it's not a bad thing to just have thoughts about it."

A mother and daughter duo talking | Source: Midjourney

A mother and daughter duo talking | Source: Midjourney

I wondered what my mother would think if she saw me walking through a park with a little boy like this.

Tommy dug into the bag of fresh popcorn eagerly. We wandered around, but there was no sign of his parents.

"They're not here," he said, his face falling.

He looked like he was about to cry.

An empty park bench | Source: Midjourney

An empty park bench | Source: Midjourney

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"Where else do they go?" I asked, trying to keep some sense of hope for the boy.

"Sometimes they go to the mall to collect scraps at the food court," he said.

"Alright, let's try the mall," I said, leading him back to the metro.

"Are you sure?" Tommy asked.

A food court | Source: Midjourney

A food court | Source: Midjourney

At the mall, Tommy's eyes widened at the sight of the arcade.

"Wow," he said. "I've never seen those before. What are those?"

I couldn't resist his longing look.

"Let's get you some tokens," I said, handing him a few dollars. He ran off to the machines, a huge grin on his face as he tried to figure out how to play the games.

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A bright arcade | Source: Midjourney

A bright arcade | Source: Midjourney

Watching him, I felt a strange mix of joy and sadness.

As Tommy played, I took my phone out to see if Mia had gotten back to me. Just then, two police officers approached me.

"Excuse me, miss," one of them said. "Is that little boy with you?"

"Yes," I replied, my heart sinking. "Why do you ask? We're looking for his parents."

Two police officers | Source: Midjourney

Two police officers | Source: Midjourney

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"Oh," one of the officers said.

"This boy ran away from his foster family this morning," the other officer said gently. "We need to take him back to his home."

I hadn't realized that when the policemen had approached me, Tommy had noticed and left his game, coming to stand at my side.

A smiling family portrait | Source: Midjourney

A smiling family portrait | Source: Midjourney

"Is this true, Tommy?" I asked, watching him as he stared at the ground, tears welling in his eyes.

He nodded, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"I just wanted to have a fun day, Rachel," he sobbed. "Like I used to with my real parents. They died in a car accident a long time ago."

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My heart broke for him.

A car accident | Source: Midjourney

A car accident | Source: Midjourney

"Oh, Tommy," I said, my voice choked with emotion. "I understand that, but you cannot just run away. It's not safe, Tommy. It's not safe for anyone."

The officers looked at me and nodded.

One took Tommy's hand and smiled at him.

"It's okay, son," the man said. "We're going to get you home and everything will be just fine."

Tommy nodded. Then he turned around to look back at me with pleading eyes.

A sad little boy | Source: Midjourney

A sad little boy | Source: Midjourney

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"Will you come and see me again, Rachel?" he asked.

"Of course!" I replied, truly meaning my words. "I'll come visit you all the time if your parents are okay with it."

And I did. Every week, I went to see Tommy. We went for walks, to restaurants, and even back to the park and the mall. Every trip was for Tommy to see the world through eyes of wonder and excitement.

A woman and a boy at a restaurant | Source: Midjourney

A woman and a boy at a restaurant | Source: Midjourney

"Hi, Rachel," Tommy's foster mother, Louise, said when she opened the door.

"Hi," I replied, looking over her shoulder as I tried to find him in the house.

"Is Tommy here?" I asked, holding a large cake box.

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A cake in a box | Source: Midjourney

A cake in a box | Source: Midjourney

"Of course, he is," she said, letting me inside. "He's been waiting for you since the morning. He said that you guys were going to try a new ice cream place?"

"Yes!" I replied. "And I brought cake for later."

Louise smiled at me.

"I'm glad you love my son," she said. "But I need you to know that we're all trying our best here. Tommy isn't neglected."

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a woman | Source: Midjourney

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My heart paused for a second. Is that what Louise thought? That I only wanted to see Tommy because I wanted to check up on him?

"That's definitely not the case!" I exclaimed. "I'm here because I love him, too."

Louise smiled widely.

"Good," she said, stirring the pot on the stove. "I'm glad to know that you do."

A close-up of a smiling woman | Source: Midjourney

A close-up of a smiling woman | Source: Midjourney

Eventually, as time went by, Tommy and I grew closer, and Sundays were our designated days to see each other.

"Thank you, Rachel," he said one day, as we sat in the park eating ice cream. "For everything."

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"No, thank you, Tommy," I replied, smiling. "You've taught me more about kindness than I could have ever imagined."

And so, what started as a chance encounter at a metro station turned into a beautiful friendship that changed both our lives forever.

A person holding an ice cream cone | Source: Midjourney

A person holding an ice cream cone | Source: Midjourney

What would you have done?

If you enjoyed this story, here's another one for you |

My Father Skipped My Graduation to Take His Stepson to the Zoo – I Taught Him a Good Lesson

When Michael's father misses his graduation to take his stepson, Tommy, to the zoo, Michael wants to teach him a lesson. After years of being sidelined, Michael finally retaliates. He plans a graduation dinner with the intention to expose his father, but then, things take a turn...

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A graduation cap and degree | Source: Pexels

A graduation cap and degree | Source: Pexels

As I watched my classmates hug their families on graduation day, the absence of my father, Henry, cast a long shadow on what should have been one of the happiest days of my life.

Ever since my parents' divorce when I was ten, Dad had built a new life with Sandra and her young son, Tommy.

It was good—I wanted my father to be happy. He deserved it. Because as much as he and Mom tried, they just weren't compatible anymore. I needed them to be apart so that they could co-exist for me.

A divorce agreement | Source: Pexels

A divorce agreement | Source: Pexels

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But then, when Dad and Sandra got together, he entered a new chapter—one that seemed to include everyone but me.

Initially, things weren't so bad, but as my father grew closer to Tommy, he began to play a bigger role in his life. He consistently missed the milestones that marked my childhood journey—my science fair victories, my soccer finals, even several birthdays.

A father carrying his son | Source: Pexels

A father carrying his son | Source: Pexels

Each absence was attributed to something involving Tommy—a school play, a baseball game, or just a day out—leaving me to celebrate or commiserate without him.

I met with my father a week before the graduation—we were having lunch at a diner, something that he still tried to keep going, even when his life got busy.

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Read the full story here.

This work is inspired by real events and people, but it has been fictionalized for creative purposes. Names, characters, and details have been changed to protect privacy and enhance the narrative. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

The author and publisher make no claims to the accuracy of events or the portrayal of characters and are not liable for any misinterpretation. This story is provided “as is,” and any opinions expressed are those of the characters and do not reflect the views of the author or publisher.

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