"If I was going to kill the Prophet," I say, not even keeping my voice low, "I'd do it in Africa."
I look into Mariah"s light green eyes.
She stares back at me and smiles, like she knows what I mean and agrees. Like she's saying, "Go on, Kyra. Tell me more."
I kick the toe of my sneaker into the desert sand. Even this late in the evening, with the sun sinking over my shoulder, the ground is leftover hot from the day. I can feel the heat through the soles of my shoes. Feel the heat coming up from the ground, through my tights, right under the skirt of my past-the-knees dress. There isn't even a bit of a breeze.
"I"m not sure how I'd kill him. Yet." I pause so Mariah can see I am dead serious. Then I take in a big breath of air and plow ahead. "But once he's gone, I"d drag his body right next to a termite nest. Not a thing would be left of him in three hours. There're termites in Africa that can do that. No one would ever know what happened."
Again I pause. I look off toward the setting sun that has changed the desert from orange to deep red. Not quite the color of blood, but close enough. Overhead, stars start to fill the eastern sky. Just bits of light. I shrug.
"All of him would be gone. Every speck. No evidence left."
Mariah smiles at me again and lets out a bit of baby laughter. I shift her from one hip to the other, then lean close, smelling powder and, from the desert around me, sage. I touch my lips to her face so soft and smooth. Eight months old, this baby, my youngest sister, is as sweet as new butter. And just as fat. I love her.
Oh. I love her.
"I'd kill him first for me," I say into her cheek, my lips still resting there, my eyes closed. "And then I"d kill him for you. Then I"d kill him for the rest of our sisters. And our mothers. And the other women here..."
Mother Claire's voice carries out over the sand and rock and brush that make up this part of our land surrounding the Compound. The sound is so clear and sharp and near, I worry maybe she's heard me.
"Kyra," Mother Claire calls again. She stands on the porch to her trailer, the light of her place spilling out around her. Her hands are on her hips. "I see you out there. Come inside. You know we have company coming in a few minutes. Get in here now."
"Coming," I say, but not loud at all.
Mother Claire is the mean one. She"s Mariah's mother, my father's first wife. My true mother, Mother Sarah, is sick in bed with pregnancy. She would stand up to this wife, at least for me. She has before. But she can't right now because she's not well.
Mariah lets out a gurgle. In the lingering light I can see that she's sleepy. Sleepy from my swaying and the heat and my voice, maybe. She puts her head on my shoulder and lets out a big yawn.
"Lucky girl," I say. "You might sleep through this to night."
After I help Mother Sarah get the younger girls ready for our visitors, I check on her. She's stretched out on the sofa, her face white, her belly six- months big.
"Mother," I say. I pet her long blond hair. "Can I go outside? Just a few minutes? Everything's done."
What I'd like to do is play the piano, bring Mozart to life for the time we have until Prophet Childs shows. But the Fellowship Hall is closed now.
Mother looks at me with eyes blue as the evening sky. "What are you going to do, Kyra?" she says.
I shrug. "Just spend a minute alone."
Mother Sarah moves up on her elbow, cocks her head like she's listening. In their room I can hear my youngest two sisters playing with their baby dolls. Laura, who is just a year younger than me, writes at the dining- room table. She's filling her journal.
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