It happens every time I tell a lie. My voice wavers and I need to swallow to hold back a laugh, or vomit, or both.
This is never going to work. No one will believe me. But I can't tell the truth, not yet anyway, so I take a deep breath and say my monumental lie.
"I'm switching to decaf because I don't really like coffee."
The words taste bitter in my mouth, but not in a satisfying, skim latte sort of way.
I go on: "Oh, and I'm extending Dry July because I've loved being sober so much."
For anyone who knows me, these are two blatant lies that can really only be met with laughter. I really enjoy my morning coffees (yes, plural) and I'm pathologically unable to say no to a glass of red in the evening. Or the afternoon.
I look at my colleague Emily, about to go on a coffee run. She's a little bemused by my decaf order but doesn't question me.
No one openly guesses that I'm pregnant.
I'm pregnant! Eep! The news is so fresh that words such as 'pregnant', 'mum' and 'Baby Bjorn' still give me palpitations. It's overwhelmingly exciting and entirely terrifying. And despite all the literature on pregnancy, there's no guidebook to tell you how to lie about it for three months until you get to the 12-week safezone.
Just my husband and I knew. We kept the secret like a tiny ember that was glowing stronger each day. In the hush of secrecy, it felt a little bit sacred, a bit precious. A bit like the miraculous phenomena that creating life truly is.
But it all came crashing down when I opened a bottle of soda water at a friend's dinner party.
"Oh you're pregnant!" my friend immediately squealed. I've known her since I was four. She knows when I'm hiding something. Just like the time I had a crush on that guy in Year 11, she doesn't even need me to confirm anything. It's written all over my face.
My lies about Dry July and feeling bloated were met with a cheeky, curt "sure".
Friend interrogation was nothing compared to my mum. We were in the car one day when she said: "Your father and I are thinking about going to China in February".
February. That's my due date. I got a little nervous but then I saw that she was looking my way. The cheeky fox! I twigged that my own mum was testing me. She must have figured it out when I stopped having wine at family dinners a few weeks back and she's done the math.
I play it cool and then she says: "Actually, maybe we'll leave in March -- what do you think?"
She's definitely testing me.
Then there's the fact that when you're not dodging questions, you're dodging furniture on the way to the bathroom with morning sickness.
One day, a colleague caught me looking faint.
"If you're sick, you need to go home," he demanded.
I brush him off, saying "It'll all be over by about 11 am".
Whoops. He's a dad twice over. He immediately knows what's going on.
By the time we're ready to tell the world about our little big secret, literally no one is surprised. No one believed my lies, not my friends, parents, colleagues -- I'm pretty sure even my barista knew.
Except, curiously, Emily, my morning coffee buddy, who I also regularly split a bottle of red with on a Friday.
It's so nice to have at least one friend who doesn't question your sudden teetotalling, Zika virus avoiding, decaffeinated ways, because being able to surprise just one friend with such exciting news really is a joy.Suggest a correction