Come on, darling, says his father, who is closing the door of the dishwasher so the dog can't lick the plates and putting down a fresh bowl of water for her. Give her the key. Why do you always have to be so aggressive about everything?

You call me aggressive?

Ilook at the clock. We are now cutting it fine. This isn't fair.

You're being extremely selfish, his father adds.

Give me the key! I shout and I take a quick step towards him. And I really am quite cross now. Give me back that key right now!


If we don't leave right now, this second, that's it, we can't go, we're late.

Go. I'm not stopping you.

Please just give me the key!


As usual he is intimidating me with his size. As usual I feel small and sad and staccato, powerless in my green satin high heels, a strand of hair sticking to my lipstick. I feel a surge of anger and I lunge at him and—

And what? What exactly is it that I do next?

In the muddled dark of my memory, it's this: I jump up and grab his sleeve with one hand, try to wrestle the keys out of his closed fist with the other. And yes, I am definitely shouting and almost certainly swearing, but do I hit him? No, I do not hit him. This is important because later he will insist that I did.

But did I hit him? Might I have hit him? Sometimes, later, late at night, months and months after this moment, I will still be wondering if I did.

If you keep on doing that, he says, I am going to have to hit you.

Keep on doing what?
Excerpted from The Lost Child by Julie Myerson. Copyright ?? 2009 by Julie Myerson. Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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