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1 1 ~ Emily I tried to get out of the assignment. Prenatal visits to a prisoner? Okay, house arrest, same difference. I couldn’t believe that I was supposed to take care of a woman whose child died in a cult ritual. What kind of mother could get so involved in an oddball religion that she’d let her baby freeze to death? And what kind of name was Pippa? Don’t get me wrong. Every patient deserves expert and compassionate care. Even the most despicable criminal. I learned that in nursing school and I believe it, really. Still, this assignment gave me the creeps. Driving to her house that mid-November morning, I knew precious little about Pippa Glenning or her cult. Just that she was under house arrest, which is why I had to visit her every week for routine prenatal monitoring. I knew that her daughter and another kid had died during a religious ceremony in Forest Park last December, their bodies discovered months later. I hadn’t paid much attention to the hype of the newspaper articles, but I remembered the headlines: the Frozen Babies Case. From the assignment sheet, I knew she was twenty-one. Not awfully young to have a baby. A second baby, I reminded myself. No medical records. That did not bode well. Neither did the scrawled sentence in the space for primary care provider: We don’t believe in your medicine. Under Religion was written Family of Isis. Ditto for Household Composition: Family of Isis. Okay,soMs.Glenninglivedinacult.Nursesmeetlotsofoddballs.Howdifferent could a cult be from a commune? I’d had patients in communal households before. It always gave me a twinge, because my parents lived in a commune in Ann Arbor before I was born, and that ended badly. And some people thought my own living situation was weird; I shared the bottom half of a duplex a few blocks away with my cousin Anna and her disabled daughter, and Anna’s ex-husband Sam lived upstairs. I am good at this work, I reminded myself as I turned onto the block where the Family of Isis lived. Pioneer Street was new to me. Crowded with triple-decker 2 ~ House Arrest houses, it sat on the boundary line of the historic Forest Park neighborhood, far removed from the elegant homes along the park and from the duplexes like Anna’s, neatly painted to emulate the park-side style. Pioneer Street didn’t even try. Pippa Glenning’s house was an anomaly, set back from the cracked sidewalk with a single front door. No rusty bikes chained to the downspout at the corner of the house. No broken flowerpots on the stoop or piled scrap lumber from an unfinished porch repair. No tire swing dangling from the low branch of the single oak in the front yard. How many people lived inside and why didn’t their lives spill out into the yard the way their neighbors’ did? Didn’t their children have bikes or red wagons? I parked, took my supplies from the trunk, and rang the doorbell. I am always excited on the first visit. I think I’m at my best with my patients. And I’m curious. Okay, nosy. I like seeing how regular people live. But I already knew that Pippa Glenning wasn’t regular. I rang the doorbell again and listened to the silence. The young woman who opened the heavy front door was short and round. Stocky, but not fat, not at all. Spiky yellow hair framed a circular face like the crayoned rays around a child’s drawing of a sun. Her eyeglasses were shaped like a pair of wings, set with sparkles. Eyes such a dark blue they were almost black, with puffiness around them. Losing sleep? “You from the nursing agency?” Her voice had a trace of a southern accent. Her mouth was round, just like her body. I might have called it generous, except that it didn’t smile. She held her head to the side in the same graceful tilt as the orange cat at her feet. I felt tall and gawky. “Yes,” I said. “I’m Emily Klein.” “Well, I’m Pippa. Come on in.” She turned away into the dim hallway. My heart hammered. This is just another patient, part of the job, I reminded myself. I took a slow breath, bumped my rolling backpack over the threshold step, and entered Pippa Glenning’s home. I followed her...


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MARC Record
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