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“Rosie’s missing, Tee. I need to go find her. But I don’t want to leave you here, I… need you with me, Baby. Can you come too?”
Suddenly the ramifications of a missing Rosie hit Bette like a sniper shot, her gut clenching, her hands clammy. She lowered her head to Tina’s forehead as Tina processed what Bette was saying, her fingers coming up to play with the curls.
“Missing? She’s four…” Tina started to sit up, Bette leaning back to give her room, one of Tina’s hands going to her forehead.
She cleared her hair away from her eyes as she listened to Bette frantically tell her the little she knew about what happened, Bette’s voice becoming frantic, worried. Tina reached for Bette’s hand, their fingers interlocking immediately.
“Bette, Honey… let’s think this through, slow down… talk to me… take a deep breath…”
“I can’t, Tee. She’s fucking missing, what are we going to do…. Jena Beth is waiting for me like I have some idea of how to find her and I …. I feel like I…” she leaned back, suddenly very breathless, there was no air… panic setting in… “I can’t breathe, Tee…” Her hands flailed, reaching for Tina…
Tina put her hands on Bette’s shoulders, her voice calm, soothing, “breathe, Baby Sweet… take a deep breath…”
Bette reached to hold onto Tina’s wrists, her grip tight. “I will take up all the oxygen Tee, all the air…”
“… Breathe, Bette. That’s it, another one. There it is… again. Ok? One more. Ok?” She waited until Bette’s hold her wrists lessened, waited until the panic left Bette’s eyes.
Tina took charge, willing her headache to stay away, hoping she could be of some help to Bette today. She spoke softly, Bette’s eyes on her, waiting.
“You need to get dressed and pack that backpack with all your supplies. We will find her.”
Half an hour later Bette sat in the back of Turnup’s boat as Jena Beth lowered the motor. Bette was panicky in the boat, her knees about buckled climbing down the ladder before she could sit, her nightmares flaring up, all the air sucked out of her lungs.
Feeling the boat rock under her almost made her want to gag, she looked around at the water fearfully, felt like throwing up. Her life jacket was tight around her throat, she didn’t think she could get enough air. What if…