By Laurie Neville (Newmarket, ON)

I jerked my arm up to block the blow -- too late.  His right fist connected, splitting my lip open.  I twisted around in the driver's seat to slap my hand over my mouth, but blood spattered my white blouse.  I groaned quietly.

The remains of a bruise still marked the last quarrel.  My mind raced through some fresh explanations for this newest injury, but they all seemed ridiculous.

My fingers dabbed at my swelling lip.  Going back into the house for ice was not an option; that might set him off again.  Taking a deep breath, I started the car.  He sat behind me; his eyes locked with mine in the rear view mirror.  Beside him, the baby slept in the infant carrier; oblivious.

The drive was tense.  My furtive looks couldn't decode his mood.  Once parked, I opened the passenger door to lift the baby out and walked toward the building.  I stopped and looked back.  Are you coming? I asked.

He stared at me, motionless; then gave an indifferent shrug.  In a fluid motion he unlatched his seat buckle, opened the car door, and swung his feet out.  They hit the concrete path with a thump.  Race you to the door, he hooted.  Red sneakers poundd past me and disappeared into the daycare. 

The future me could have offered reassurance that day about my son, but all I could wonder was, How will he manage kindergarten next year?

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