Fiona Sweeney shoved a pair of rolled-up jeans into the corner of her purple duffel bag. Outside her bedroom window, a siren's wail sliced through the white noise of a wet snowfall. .Those eerieman-made moans were part of New York City's wallpaper, a signal of trouble commonplace enough to pass unnoticed. But Fi registered this one, maybe because she knew she wouldn't be hearing sirens for awhile.

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[1]?"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 gesturethat 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 tollfrom 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 therub-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 foreverything 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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