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V. “Ready to go and get your piñata?” I ask Sophie after Saturday’s lunch. Despite the looming blood test, I’m determined to make her fifth birthday party every bit the celebration we intended when she and I sat down and wrote out the invitations, Sophie printing her name at the top of each purse-shaped pink card. “Yes!” She jumps down from her seat at the kitchen table. Five minutes later, she stands at the door with her sneakers on the wrong feet and a backpack full of stuffed animals. They were happier now than they would ever be again…. “We need these sheriff ’s badges, Mama,” she says, reaching into one of the three dozen bins set at precisely her eye level, “and the bugles, and the bubbles—I want purple and green, and look at these little animals, and the sparkly balls, such sparkly balls!” By the time we leave the party store, a dozen balloons in one hand, a cupcake-shaped piñata in the other, and a not-too-outrageous bag of goodies (or so I tell myself ), I’ve managed to push the grim numbers of the first blood test into my mind’s far reaches, not that I’ve forgotten it. It pulses beneath Sophie, now singing—“If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands…” But what after all is one night? A short space, especially when the darkness dims so soon, and so soon a bird sings….Night, however, succeeds to night… Some of them hold aloft clear planets, plates of brightness. VI. Just before seven the next morning, I drive over to the university hospital for that second blood test. “Congratulations,” says the pretty lab technician with the perfect manicure, once I hand her the lab order. “Sorry?” I say, already rolling up my sleeve. “Your pregnancy.” She begins wrapping the rubber tubing around my arm. “It’s a very tenuous pregnancy,” I say, immediately thinking—‘Why are you telling her this?’ “But this is the second test? To check how far along you are?” “Right,” I say, focusing on the needle as it withdraws the rich, dark blood. … About twenty minutes before the first guests arrive, Dr. M telephones. “Do you have the result?” I ask. 7

Sampled The Examined Life Journal Issue 5.2