This is all I know. That on the 11th of April, 1983, unto me a son was born, and I felt nothing. Once again, the truth is always larger than what we make of it. As that infant squirmed on my breast, from which he shrank in such distaste, I spurned him in return—he may have been a fifteenth my size, but it seemed fair at the time. Since that moment we have fought one another with an unrelenting ferocity that I can almost admire. But it must be possible to earn a devotion be testing an antagonism to its very limit, to bring people closer through the very act of pushing them away. Because after three days short of eighteen years, I can finally announce that I am too exhausted and too confused and too lonely to keep fighting, and if only out of desperation or even laziness I love my son. He has five grim years left to serve in an adult penitentiary, and I cannot vouch for what will walk out the other side. But in the meantime, there is a second bedroom in my serviceable apartment. The bedspread is plain. A copy of Robin Hood lies on the bookshelf. And the sheets are clean.

– Lionel Shriver