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When he was little enough to loll in my arms and cross his eyes trying to focus on my face, I said out loud to Shaymus that I would not lie to him. The warranty on that lasted for a couple of years; then things started to fall apart, as things do. Anyone would tell the lies I am telling. Still I don't like what comes out of my mouth.

Shaymus is watching tv when the phone rings and I grab it quick. He is not usually entranced by tv but whatever this is, it has him mesmerized; good. I take the phone as far as the cord will go. Drew tells me the bottom line first, he knows what I want to hear and, thank God, he says it. She's here. She's fine. My shoulders undo the painful thing I didn't know they'd been doing. The baby's all right, Anna is all right.

After the initial "ok" are the more gruesome bits. Drew starts telling me the details. I don't ask him to stop even though everything is awful and gets worse. He is exahusted, he has no sense of what not to share. He has to talk it out and I am the available ear. And I want to know, even about the ragged red scar, the unexpected fluids, the intern who bolted.

Shaymus wants a cookie of course. All right, here. I encourage him back to the tv but he looks at me curiously and says We can't eat in the tv room. A little young to be so self-righteous, I do not say. He sits at the kitchen table making crumbs while I play it cool with carefully-inflected uh-huhs to Drew's monologue.

Is that Dad? Is it? Can I talk to Dad can I? I wave him off but know it's no use, I put him on the line and Drew makes up some half-lies I cannot hear. Satisfied Shaymus goes back to tv and it is my turn again to hear that they had to slash Anna open like a melon or a deer, that they pulled the baby out choking and blue, cord wrapped around her neck. That it all turned out all right but there was so much pain along the way, so much blood, her terrible voice.

When Drew's exhaustion supersedes his words we hang up. I go back to the couch and Shaymus says, eyes still forward to the screen, Mom's coming home and she's ok right? I say of course she is. Everything's cool. And it is. I am leaving out the hideous parts, because I have to. I swore I would never lie, even to save him pain, I said. Enough pain waits for him anyway, no need for me to complicate it. How stupid, how babyish of me.

So, I didn't live up to my word. So what, I realize. A few lies to spare a four-year-old's panic and worry. A few lies to tell the truth in a roundabout way - bottom line, everyone is ok, why should I tell him there was so much blood and trouble?

And, I see, there isn't any trouble. What I have said becomes true. I ease back into the pillows and Shaymus nudges me to how he wants me to sit, as his backrest, his support. Ok, Shaymus. All right. I smell the top of his head, hair still baby-fine. He still smells like a little boy and I cannot get enough of it. I hope, hard, that I will be able to tell when he needs lies and when he needs the truth. I know it will get complicated and I know I may make it worse. But tonight it is as simple as a good movie and a soft couch and mom coming home tomorrow with a whole new person for us, all for us.

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