Where's Henry?

I met Erin and the kids yesterday after work at the pool. They walked out of the dressing room and made their way across the throng of kids/parents/grandparents that filled the sports centre (I believe there was a hockey tournament going on).

Both Erin and I were overloaded with bags filled with wet towels and bathing suits. Alice wriggled in my arms. Erin dragged a reluctant, cranky, and tired Jane by the hand. We were about 15 steps around the corner from the pool entrance when I noticed something missing.

Me: Where's Henry?

Erin: (all business) Jane, stay here with Dad.

The three of us watched Erin rush towards the pool and duck around the corner. I expected her to return immediately with Henry in tow, but the seconds ticked slower and slower with the realization she couldn't find him. She ran back around the corner empty-handed.

Erin: I'm going to see if he snuck out the back door.

Alice, Jane, and I waited. The cement mixer in my chest dripped a fresh drop of cement into my stomach with every second Erin was gone.

Jane: Where's Henry?

Jane: Where's Henry?

Jane: Where's Henry?

Me: Mummy's finding him, Janey. Don't worry.

It was probably less than a minute later that Erin returned with Henry grasping her hand. Henry ran up to me, trying to look strong. He dragged his sleeve across his eyes, but couldn't wipe the unmistakable shape of fear and loneliness from his mouth.

Henry: Dad...

Me: (hugging him tight) It's alright, Cornbread. We've got you.

Thank humanity for kindly mothers in parking lots who know a lost and scared boy when they see one.


just us said...

And for dads and moms who don't let loose and yell at ya when you make a wrong turn in life.

Jordan said...

This kind of reminds me of the time Alisdair took a solo ride in the elevator in our building. So I kind of know the feeling. It really sucks. Glad to see Henry's ok!

karn said...

oh man... my heart just rose to my throat... as i'm sure yours did. glad everyone is ok. can't wait to see you guys.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the nice comments.

I just reread this, and realized I wasn't completely clear on how Henry became lost. He walked out of the pool dressing room with Erin and the girls ("Look, Dad! My hair's wet!"). Erin handed me half the bags and Alice. Jane grabbed Erin's hand and we started to walk.

We assume Henry was distracted by a snack vending machine (the boy ain't providing details, and we aren't pressing). He must have looked up after drooling over a bag of chips to find us nowhere to be seen. He had the option of running around the corner (where we were), or going outside. He chose the latter.