‘It’s simple,’ said the chemist. ‘Pee on the stick, if it turns pink, we say congratulations. First pee in the morning is most reliable.’ My room was pink when I awoke at six. Pink as a little girl’s birthday cake, pink like the dress my niece wore when she was little and her only ambition was to be a princess. The lawn was pink. Fitzgerald’s barn was pink, my navy blue car was pink. I wished Michael was with me to share the fleeting sunrise before pink turned apricot. The changing light of daybreak lasts about as long as it takes to eat an apple. Where was Michael this morning? Grey fog meandered across the field, paused as if to say, ‘don’t jump to conclusions, perhaps it’s the menopause, perhaps you are upset about something.’ I pulled up my white nightgown, inspected my breasts. They were sore and full of purpose. Tender, everything so very tender.

Bladder ready to burst, I peed on the stick. My period is ten days late or is it eleven? Twelve? I haven’t peed on a stick for 20 years. Jesus, I am forty-four. Mind drifts to my old boyfriend, the one I should have married, Johnny in Arizona, he so Hopi, me so Irish; he used to laugh, pull me closer, say, ‘you’re not a white woman, your skin is pink.’ Can’t look, must look. I lingered on the toilet a moment longer. The pink in the sky and the field and the barn gone now, sucked into the stick.

A daughter!