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80 14 ~ Pippa The attic stairs groaned, announcing a visitor. It couldn’t be Francie because she knew which two stairs complained if you tread in the middle. She was the one who had taught Pippa how to step silently right against the walls, lumbering side to side like a trained bear. “Pippa,” Marshall hollered up the last few steps. “Telephone.” Let it be Tian. He called whenever the bald guard came on duty. Pippa thundered past Marshall down the stairs, smack in the middle of each protesting step, then another flight down to the first floor, banging the ankle monitor into the telephone table in the hallway. She picked up the receiver from the table, ignoring the pain darting into her foot. “Tian?” Pippa stretched the phone cord into the empty kitchen. She leaned against the wall to let her breathing catch up. “This is Emily. Are you okay?” Not Tian. “Yeah, just ran down two flights of stairs.” “Listen, I have to cancel for Wednesday,” Emily said. “My grandfather died and I’m going to Maine for his funeral. Another nurse, Gina, will come instead.” Pippa sat down on the bench at the kitchen table. She sighed, exhaling thoughts of Tian. “I’m sorry about your grandfather.” “Thank you. Gina’s great. She’s my friend. You’ll like her.” “Sure. Whatever.” “I’ll see you next Monday, for your ultrasound, okay? And you have my beeper number, in case you need me.” Hanging up the phone, Pippa leaned down to rub her throbbing anklebone. Double disappointment. It wasn’t Tian, and Emily wasn’t coming. The two regrets stuck in her throat. She wanted to ask for Emily’s help on the solstice, but she knew it wasn’t the right time. Not yet. She couldn’t quite figure Emily out. Could she trust Ellen Meeropol ~ 81 her? Did she have the guts to go around the law? Or was she too fearful, too spineless, like the way she slouched to hide her height. Pippa repositioned the sock under the rubber strap around her ankle and wandered into the dining room, where Marshall and Jeremy were tidying stacks of books and papers into neat piles on the table. Timothy sat at the computer, studying an elaborate maze of squiggles and lines on the screen. “We’re studying electronics,” Timothy said without looking up. “So we can help you get out of that device without the cops knowing.” “Is that on your approved home school curriculum?” Pippa poked Marshall lightly on the shoulder. “It’s what they are interested in. So we rearranged the curriculum.” Marshall looked at Pippa then, his thick index finger tugging at the faded turquoise bandanna knotted around his neck. “Don’t hold your breath, by the way. I’ve been reading up about these things. They’re close to foolproof. Most of the time when people on house arrest escape, they get caught and go to jail.” “Don’t worry, Pippa.” Jeremy slipped between Marshall’s arm and body, resting his head on the man’s overstuffed belly. “That won’t happen to you. Tim and me will figure this out.” Timothy looked up. “Tian says kids are more creative. Our brains aren’t corrupted yet.” “Bedtime.” Marshall mussed Jeremy’s curls. “Turn off the computer, Tim.” Pippa turned away, but Marshall called after her. “One guy even tried to amputate his foot. Got the monitor off, but he bled to death before he could enjoy his freedom.” “Terrific,” Pippa said. “Guess I’ll have to cross that option off my list.” In the living room, Pippa sat on the button back chair and put her feet up on the window seat. Newark jumped onto her lap, revolving twice before curling into a soft circle. Pippa ran her fingers through his thick orange fur, two shades darker than the brocade of the chair. Once Marshall and the twins thumped up to the second floor, the evening hushed, leaving the pings and creaks of the old house in the November wind and the cat’s guttural purr. It was too quiet without Tian and Murphy. Liz and Adele were probably still crumbling the dried spearmint leaves and packaging them in fifty-gram baggies out on the back porch, where Marshall had stapled heavy plastic over the screens. Francie would be getting ready for her shift at the hospital. Something about Francie was niggling at Pippa’s brain. Something she said, about Tian, when they...

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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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