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HAVING ????/Laura Yeager IHAVE STOPPED taking Lithium so that I can have a child. It's that or heart birth defects. My psychiatrist says that I may not get high if I stay on the drug, but we're not taking any chances. We've hired a "sitter," someone to stay with me for nine months during the day. Her name is Penelope, and she wants to be an actress, but she fully understands that she must stay here with me from 9:00 to 5:30, until Richard gets home. I've informed her that until I start having symptoms, she can take an occasional audition if it is all that important. And if she gets a show, we'll just have to find someone else. This baby-sitting idea is Richard's. He's seen how I speak in halfsentences , how I can't sleep for days, how I have direct communications with God. I'm not sure he would have married me if I'd had manic depression when we met. I was twenty-four, a perfect innocent who designed children's activities for the art museum. Once he wandered into my finger-painting exercise, looking for the John. People often did that. The bathrooms were next to the Children's Room in the basement. "It's the next door on your right," I said, my fingers smeared with yellow, blue and red. I was teaching the joys of color combinations. I pointed. He stood there in a beige raincoat that was a little wet and said, "Thank you." That was the first time I saw him. I remember he walked directly over to the table and looked at the children's paintings. Over one child's purples and greens, he said, "Beautiful." "We're learning how to mix color." He was neither tall, nor short, nor fat, nor thin, nor blond, nor brown. What stood out about him was his face, which seemed to burst into the world. "Color," he said. He had a paper under his arm, and the museum booklet for the visiting exhibit upstairs. I remember he looked at me, and I know I must have looked small to him, in a turtleneck and—oh, God—I think a tartan skirt—my hair in a ponytail, my face covered by the huge, round black glasses I was wearing in those days. Over my clothes, I had on a white lab coat, which was covered in paint smudges. The Missouri Review · 9 "What do blue and yellow make?" he asked one child. At the time, he was thirty-two—eight years older than I. "Do they make green?" he said when the child refused to answer. The child ignored him. Another kid, a boy, spoke up. "Yes, green. They make green." "What is this?" he asked, looking around. "This is the Children's Room." I began to wonder when he was going to go to the bathroom. He was making me nervous. I admired Stacey's ability to not speak to the handsome stranger. She, at four, knew how to behave around men. As he walked away, I thought of my grandmother's fear at meeting my grandfather. They'd met under an awning in a rainstorm in Akron, Ohio. He had offered her a ride in a taxi. She didn't speak to him, simply followed, petrified. As the color ran off our fingers into the tiny sinks on the far wall of the room, I wondered who he was, and if I'd see him again. Five years ago, I was perfect. I had a small apartment near the museum , with white furniture and sheets on the windows bunched up into knots to let the sun in. I drank the right teas with honey, served scones on the right-textured dishes, watered my plants, fed my cat. I listened to the right classical station and had friends in. Oh yes, I bought fresh flowers and set them inblood-red vases on my glass coffee table. I dated occasionally. One guy, Rex, was a part-time museum guard, full-time graduate student in American history. We saw movies at the museum, visited my...


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