"Your parents don't live together?" Wide, unbelieving eyes.
I shake my head. "Nope."
Her name is Emily, and she's six years old. We're in the same carpool and she likes to sit next to me and ask me questions: "Why is your hair so long? Why do you wear glasses? Can you write in cursive? Is there anything left in your lunch? Can I have it?"
Her last question--"Why doesn't your dad ever pick you up from carpool?" is a new one, and I wasn't expecting it.
So far, Emily doesn't get my answer. "But why?" she asks. "My mommy and daddy live together."
I glance at the driver, Ms. Amy, who happens to be Emily's mother. I'm wondering if I should change the subject. But Ms. Amy has her eyes on the road, and Emily is craning her neck, looking at me expectantly.
"Why don't your parents live together?" she prods.
I take a deep breath. "Sometimes...sometimes mommies and daddies don't get along," I tell her. "Sometimes they stop...stop loving each other. And so they...stop being married. They get divorced."
Emily mulls this over. "That's sad," she says after a minute.
"Yep," I agree. "It's sad."
"My parents don't get along sometimes."
Her voice is tense, worried. Guilt washes over me. Great, Becca. Way to scare her. "All parents have arguments sometimes. That doesn't mean they'll get divorced."
She looks at me, not assured.
"Emily--trust me. I've seen your parents together. They...trust me. They love each other, they're always going to. Okay?"
Relief washes over her face. "Okay."
She starts chattering about something else, her math homework, I think. I'm not really listening. I'm looking out the window, and inside I'm five again, and my parents are laughing and hugging each other kissing each other and loving each other. And in the next instant they're screaming at each other, and my dad stalks out, and my mom is crying.
"They love each other, they're always going to." I hear the words in my head, but I know that it doesn't always works that way. What I told Emily was a lie. A lie that I tried to believe once. But lies are lies, and truth has the tendency to smack you in the face and leave you standing there with nothing left to hold onto. Hopefully Emily never has to learn the truth.