We were on the driveway of a friends house, about to hop in the car and go to a park. Distracted, I jabbered away about car headlights until my friend noticed Guy Smiley had edged well away from us and was waiting for me to notice him meters from the driveway's open gate. I headed towards him. He bolted. I could see a 4WD coming and I ran, but he had a head start and in the nanoseconds before he reached the sidewalk I knew there was no way no way I was going to quite reach him before he reached that road. And he would have run straight out on to it, if it weren't for the fact that he faltered slightly when he hit the sidewalk - a fractional moment of hesitation that gave me just enough time to reach his side and grab him, and within seconds of the car that drove past in almost that same instant.
For a moment there, as I ran after him and saw that oncoming car, I truly thought I wouldn't reach him in time. It was a waking nightmare that lasted only seconds, but it has quite literally become a waking nightmare. Every small silent moment that I've found myself trapped in between then and now has caused those seconds to play again in my mind, and all the possible "what if" scenarios have churned over and over until I've felt my stomach begin to churn. Over and over.
Yes, it was all a happy ending in the end; what with me scooping him up in time, and hugging him, and repeating "oh god oh god" while he happily laughed and smacked me playfully in the face, as I walked back up my friend's driveway and buckled him into his carseat. Safe and secure. Not to be set down upon a front lawn when a gate is wide open ever again.
But the "what ifs"... They're going to torment me for a really long time. And rightly so.
End note: I'm terrible at self-editing. As you can probably tell by 90% of my waffle. However I have managed to remove about 9 paragraphs of what I wrote here originally, as I decided I didn't want to burden the world with all my self-doubts and blinding anxieties after all.