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9 2 ~ Pippa Pippa hurried into the living room to pick up on the second ring, hoping it was Tian. Hoping the sympathetic guard was on duty down at the jail, the bald guy who Tian said looked like a pro wrestler. The guard had told Tian the first night that most folks thought his church was pretty weird too, but that didn’t bother him none. He let Tian call home whenever no one else was around. Of course her telephone itself was a bother, all hooked up to the cuff around her ankle, a high-tech snoop. It didn’t feel private, but nothing she could do about that. “Hello?” “You okay, Babe?” Even from jail, even over the spooky phone, Tian’s voice was so deep and fluid that Pippa dove into it and didn’t need to come up for air. “I’m good, don’t you worry. The nurse just left. She took my blood pressure and tested my pee and said I’m doing just fine.” “Baby too?” “Baby too.” Pippa sank into the cushions of the easy chair, still warm from Emily. “Have you seen Murphy?” “Nah. They keep us separated, men to the north and women to the south. But my guard buddy brought a message from her this morning and she’s hanging in there. Her lawyer says they’ll try for bail again at the hearing.” The hearing was set for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, less than two weeks away. New bail motions and something about trying them separately or together. The lawyers predicted that Tian would go to prison. “What about you?” she whispered into the tainted phone. “Will they let you out on bail?” “Fat chance. They need a scapegoat and I’m it, the big bad leader of a bizarre cult that kills babies. Then there’s my juvy record, the one that was supposed to be sealed.” 10 ~ House Arrest “I miss you.” She paused to let her throat settle, but she had to tell him. “I have an appointment with the doctor on Friday.” “Aw, Pippa.” Tian’s voice splintered. “I hate to think of you having to put up with all that crap.” Pippa pictured him at the other end of the phone line, cradling the receiver against his midnight skin, his cheekbones asserting long dynasties, his lips full of secrets. Tian was bigger than life. He was worth everything she went through, even her father, even the nasty weeks on Lyman Street. Except Abby. Was Tian worth losing Abby? Maybe it was wrong thinking, but she couldn’t help wondering. She took a shallow breath, trying to get air past the tight regret in her throat. “Don’t you fuss about the doctor, Tian, because the nurse promised to come with me.” Pippa wasn’t sure how much comfort Emily could offer, with her skinny neck that might be graceful if she didn’t hold it so stiff. Still, it was better than going alone. “She’ll make sure nothing bad happens. I’ll just open my legs and close my eyes. I’ll chant to Isis and pretend I’m not there.” “When I sleep-chant, Babe, I add something new at the end.” He spoke so softly Pippa had to listen hard. “I chant your name and it becomes a mantra.” Tian began to croon, “Pippa Pippa Pippa Pippa,” and it sang out like a prayer. HowastonishingthatTianwouldmakeahymnoutofhername,whichPippahad hated since kindergarten. That was the first time she was around other children, except for her brother Stanley, and Charley and Martha from the next farm. Now those were regular names, sturdy and normal, not foolish like Pippa. At recess the kids in the schoolyard teased and chanted different rhymes. Pippa peepee, Pippa poopy. Sally Ann moved to town in second grade and her desk was next to Pippa in the front row because they both had weak eyes. Sally Ann came from Pippa Passes, Kentucky , and she said it was the most beautiful place on earth. Pippa once asked Ma if she was named for that pretty town in the Kentucky mountains, but Ma said no, she read the name in a book when she was a girl. Pippa was so grateful that Sally Ann liked her name that they became best friends, her first friend really, because a brother didn’t count. But in fourth grade Sally Ann grew boobs and Ma said she had turned into a slut and Pippa...


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