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170 33 ~ Pippa Isis flickered in the candlelight. On the sofa across the room, Pippa resettled her tired feet on the pillows stacked on the coffee table, careful not to bump the teapot or disturb Newark’s raspy purring on her lap. The Tea Room had been insanely busy when they opened after Bast’s service. “Almost,” Liz had suggested, “as if the Forest Park community knew we just had a funeral and folks stopped by to offer condolences.” “But instead of bringing food,” Pippa said, “they come to buy cookies and drink tea?” “Are you complaining?” Liz asked. “Because we really need the business.” No complaints. Except that there hadn’t been a moment all afternoon to sit down. Pippa’s legs ached. Even after elevating her feet above the level of her heart for twenty minutes like Emily said, she could barely squeeze her pinky finger under the monitor strap. Did her ankles swell this early with Abby? Everything about this pregnancy felt different. According to Emily’s pamphlet, the baby was only about five inches long. But this kid felt immense, a whale in her womb. Abby had been light, her movements like butterfly kisses from the inside. Even in deep toddler sleep, sprawled across Pippa’s chest and radiating that intense baby dampness, Abby had never been too heavy. Pippaclosedhereyes,imaginedtheheatofAbby’sredblanketsleeperonherchest, felt herself pacing her own breathing to her daughter’s rhythm. In four months, when this baby was born, Abby would have been two and a half. A good age for a big sister. But Abby was gone, and Bast was gone, and Pippa wasn’t so sure about Tian. He said he loved her and her feelings hadn’t changed, not exactly. He just felt so awfully far away, wasting their phone calls talking about legal stuff. About the bald guard he was teaching to love Isis and wouldn’t it be neat if a prison guard could change his way of thinking? Ellen Meeropol ~ 171 And what did he mean on the phone last night? “You’ve really got to be at the solstice celebration Tuesday night, babe,” he had said, his voice as gravelly as Newark’s. Pippa didn’t know how to answer. “I’ll try.” “Are you practicing the Mother Dance?” “Adele’s helping me.” “We’ll all do our best,” Tian had said, “to not let Isis down.” What did he mean? How could he attend when he was in jail? When Pippa asked Francie, she said to ignore Tian’s grandiose ideas. Pippa wasn’t so sure. Besides, what about not letting each other down? Wasn’t that more important? He was right about one thing, though. She had better ask Adele to work with her some more on the choreography. Because one way or another, Pippa planned to dance. When the bell rang, Pippa heard Jeremy and Timothy race to the door, jostling each other against the hallway. Then Marshall’s deep voice ordered them back to the kitchen, he’d take care of it. They were all jumpy. There’d been a string of hang-up phone calls and a sedan with dark windows parked in front of their house at odd times. The old couple next door was acting even weirder than usual, posing on talk radio as the cult experts of Western Massachusetts. But the murmured sounds of the conversation at the front door rose and fell, merging with Pippa’s exhaustion, too calm and musical to be the neighbors. Then she recognized Emily’s voice. “For you,” Marshall said from the arched doorway. Emily looked insubstantial next to Marshall’s bulk, her skin a soft gold in the candlelight. “Hi, Emily. Marshall, would you bring another mug?” He walked toward the back of the house, careful not to touch Emily. Standing framed under the arch, she looked different, less starchy. “Have a seat.” Pippa patted the cushion next to her. “Are your legs bothering you?” Emily asked. “Is that why you’re here? To check on my legs?” Emily shook her head and sat down on the edge of the sofa. “No. I came to apologize . I’m sorry I told you to trust Nan. I thought that she would help about Bast. I trusted her and I was wrong.” Pippa shrugged and turned to take the mug from Marshall. “Thanks,” she said to him. When he didn’t leave she added, “It’s okay.” The two women watched Marshall leave the...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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