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39 7 ~ Emily I could hear their sing-song voices counting hamstring stretches. Afternoons were my special time with Zoe, just the two of us, until Anna got home from school. Then all the business of making dinner and eating and getting Zoe ready for bed took over. Normally, I liked to do Zoe’s afternoon stretches myself, but today I was glad when Sam squatted down in front of Zoe’s chair so she could climb on for a piggyback ride. He whispered something, and she giggled, and for a minute I wanted to send Sam upstairs and keep Zoe to myself. But that would be selfish. Anyway, I needed the time to learn more about Pippa. Glancing at the thickening clouds outside, I flipped on the kitchen light and concentrated on the computer. If I ignored the diatribes against freezing embryos, most of the search results on “frozen babies” were from the local daily paper—news stories, feature articles, editorials. When I read about late summer hikers finding the bodies, I couldn’t help imagining Pippa opening the newspaper the next day. Did anyone warn her? Was she sitting on that yellow brocade chair, with the diesel-purring cat on her lap? Did she read that headline under the harsh gaze of the bird woman? In early October, the newspaper reported three arrests. Two suspects remain in custody: the male leader of the cult, identified only as Sebastian, and Murphy Barnett, the mother of the boy who died. Because of her pregnancy, Pippa Glenning, the mother of the dead girl, is released under house arrest on electronic monitoring and her unborn child has been placed under protective custody. Two older children remain in the household with their mother, Francine Beaujolais, under close supervision by the Department of Social Services. On autopsy, the cause of death was determined to be exposure. The children were apparently in good health before the incident leading to their demise. The deceased were racially mixed, according to the medical examiner’s office. 40 ~ House Arrest What difference did their race make? And how could they tell? After eight months, frozen and then thawed, wouldn’t the bodies be decomposed? Wouldn’t they haven been bothered by animals? What would the bodies look like, after all that time? With a jolt, I remembered that one of those bodies was Pippa’s Abby. In early November, the tone of the newspaper articles grew more hostile. Chief Mahon urged the citizens of Western Massachusetts to be vigilant as the winter solstice approaches. “There may be substantial public risk,” he stated. “The potential for harm in the practices of cults must not be ignored. We have no credible information about what they do in their bizarre rituals secluded in the woods.” Not everyone agreed with the Chief of Police about the public risk. One woman from Amherst wrote: Isis worshippers revere all life, work to save the environment, and expressly forbid any sacrifice, either ritual or actual. Everyone is accepted in that so-called cult. All religions are welcome. How can this be dangerous? Fierce arguments raged on the pages of the editorial section in early November. The angry words made me feel prickly and I switched off the computer. None of this seemed remotely connected to the poised young woman I met that morning. But then, the Pippa Glenning I met didn’t strike me as a person who would let her baby freeze to death. Maybe it was those articles, or the snow outside, but that evening I couldn’t settle down. I rearranged the shelf of library books by due date, straightened the newspapers on the coffee table into a perfect stack, rescued a balled-up purple sock from under the couch. And I worried about Zoe, who had been unusually quiet at dinner. “Do you feel sick?” I had asked her. “Headache?” I would never forget the time Zoe got quiet, and then muted, and then tearful, and finally was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night for surgery to replace the malfunctioning shunt in her brain. “I’m not sick,” Zoe insisted. “She’s fine.” Anna smiled at me. “Don’t be such a worrywart.” When the dinner dishes were done, Anna and Zoe cuddled on the sofa with Rufus and Babar. I grabbed a heavy sweater and took my cup of tea to the porch. The sun porch was my favorite room. With windows on three sides, it hugged...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781597094429
Related ISBN
9781597094993
MARC Record
OCLC
835770696
Pages
216
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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