She turned her attention back to her bag, which still had space. What else should she take? Lifting a framed snapshot, she examined her mother as a young woman, wading into a stream, wearing rubber boots and carrying a fishing pole. Fi cherished the photograph; in real life, she'd never known her mother to be that carefree. The mother Fi had known wouldn't want to go to Africa. In fact, she wouldn't want Fi to go. Fi put the picture facedown and scanned the room, her attention drawn to a wom volume of Irish poetry by her bedside. She tucked it in.
"How about the netting?" Chris called from the living room where he sat with Devi. "Already in," Fi answered.
"And repellent?" asked Devi.
"Yes, yes." Fi waved her hand as though shooing away a gnat-a gesture that Chris and Devi couldn't see from the other room. "Should have kept my mouth shut," she murmured.
Early on in her research about Kenya, she'd discovered that the country's annual death toll from malaria was in the tens of thousands. She had pills; she had repellents; logically, she knew she'd be fine. Still, a figure that high jolted her. She became slightly obsessed and-here's the rub-discussed it with Chris and Devi. Mbu--mosquito-had been the first Swahili word she'd learned. Sometimes the insects even dive-bombed into her nightmares. Eventually, mosquitoes became a metaphor for everything she feared about this trip: all the stories she'd read about a violent and chaotic continent, plus the jitters that come with the unknown.
And what wasn't unknown? All she knew for... [à continuer]
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