It took me maybe five minutes. I returned to the table with a much happier, and much less smelly, Collin. Joe was gone and Andy was finishing his meal.
“Where’s Alison?” I asked looking around trying to spot her.
“Huh?” Andy asked looking like a deer in headlights. “I thought she was with you?”
“ANDY!! I asked you to watch her while I went to go change Collin!”
“Shit is right.” I stood up trying to get a better view of the tent. I couldn’t see her. I went to Krissy and whispered the situation to her trying not to panic. She took Collin and went to the bus in case Alison showed up there.
I started to walk around the tent. I had circled twice when Al came up to me.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “You look like your playing some ridiculously competitive game of I Spy.”
“Everything’s fine,” I said, really starting to panic.
“I wouldn’t believe you even if you weren’t shaking. Tell me what’s wrong. Maybe I can help.”
I looked at my hands. They were shaking. Shit. “It’s Alison. I left her with Andy while I went to go change Collin. Now she’s gone.” Apparently I had begun to cry.
“Ok, calm down,” Al said, turning me to face him. “When did you last see her?”
“About fifteen minutes ago, she was saying hi to William and Adam.”
“Ok let’s go ask th-“
“Laur, what’s wrong?” It was Patrick.
I looked at Al. I couldn’t tell Patrick. My one job was to watch these kids and now I had lost them. Al seemed to be able to read my mind.
“Lauren why don’t you and Andy start looking around, I’ll fill Patrick in.” I nodded and walked away, waving at Andy to come with me. I heard Al talk to Patrick. “Alison seems to have wandered off.”
I didn’t hear Patrick’s reaction. Andy and I were already out of the tent. We walked in circles gradually widening them, calling Alison’s name. Al and Joe joined us after a few minutes.
“I sent Patrick to the bus,” Al said. “Lauren, I think you should go too. You look panicked. When we find her, that’ll just freak her out.”
I nodded. In addition to freaking the hell out, I was also starting to feel fainter with every passing minute that we didn’t find her. By the time I made it back, I was having a full blown panic attack. I walked onto the bus. Krissy was there with Collin in her arms.
“Where’s Alison? Did you find her?” Her questions sent me over the edge. I collapsed onto the couch and began to bawl and hyperventilate. Evan walked out of the backroom just then and saw me on the couch and the look of concern on Krissy’s face.
“Laur? What’s wrong?” When it was obvious that I couldn’t answer, he turned to Krissy. “What happened? Did she say anything?”
“I just asked if she found Alison. I didn’t mean to upset her!”
“I don’t think it was you,” he knelt down next to me. “Panic attack?” I just cried harder. “Yup.” To Krissy he said, “Don’t worry about it, I got it.” He got up.
He returned soon with a glass of water. He made me sit up. “Ok, Laur. It’s gonna be ok. Clam down.”
I tried to take deep breaths and get myself under control. When I was a little bit better, Evan handed me the water. I was still freaking out a bit, but I was better.
Then Patrick walked in. His face was pale with worry. When he saw me, he hurried over. “Did you find her?”
All I could manage was to shake my head no. He sat down next to me glumly. I turned to him. I had finally found my voice, albeit, a tearful voice. “Trick, I’m so sorry. I went to change Collin and when I came back she was gone.” When he didn’t say anything I said again, mostly crying rather than speaking, “I’m sorry.”
He still said nothing. He got up and walked into the back room and shut the door. This made me cry harder.
Evan held me and rubbed my back. “Shhh, Laur. It’ll be ok.”
An hour later, it was ok. Andy, Joe, and Al returned with Alison. She had just walked away from catering and gotten lost. Other than being frightened, she was ok. Patrick was so happy when Alison got back. He spent the rest of the evening that she was awake and he put the kids to bed.
We spent the rest of the night sitting in a pretty tense atmosphere. Patrick was sitting in the corner alone. He wouldn’t talk to me at all and only gave the others minimal responses.
When Collin fussed for a bottle, I took the opportunity to leave the room. Even after I had fed the baby and gotten him to go back to sleep, I still couldn’t face going out into the other room.
I couldn’t believe I lost Alison. It tore me up inside. I knew that she was ok. I knew that I had gone about it the right way. I had asked someone to watch her and as soon as I knew she was gone I had taken care of it. But Patrick wasn’t talking to me. That’s probably what hurt me most. I had disappointed him. Those kids meant everything to him. He’d never forgive me.
I was reeling. And crying. I was gonna loose Patrick and I had just gotten him. I curled up on the bed and softly cried myself to sleep.
A/N: Dun dun dun!!! What willlll happen?