Eden 23:2

Eden awakened in her clothes to a pounding headache as the morning light streamed in through the studio’s enormous southern windows.

She didn’t see Caroline at first, but as she sat up, she heard the girl’s voice call gently across the room, “tu leves?”

Eden looked up to see her dressed and standing before the easel, looking intently at the picture, a smoking cigarette in her hand. Eden rose and walked towards the girl, who looked away from the canvas now, to smile at the young artist.

“C’est moi,” she said. “The others paint what they want me to be.” She looked again at the picture, “mais ceci—c’est vraiment moi.”

“C’est Aphrodite,” Eden objected. How could it “really” be Caroline, when Eden barely knew the girl?

“As you say,” the model demurred with a smile.

“Last night…” Eden changed the subject. She wanted to erase what had happened. She wanted Caroline to leave. But as she stepped around to look at her canvas in the morning light, her worry temporarily fled. The picture was perfect. It was her dream. Exactly.

She looked at the model. “I dreamed you,” she whispered. “J’ai reve de ceci.”

The model reached out to touch Eden’s face. But Eden pulled away. “Non,” she told her gently, “tu dois aller. S’il vous plait.”

“Tu as une…amie?” the girl asked, “in America, oui?”

But Eden couldn’t speak of Sophia to the model. Instead she just repeated, “I’m sorry, mais tu dois aller.”

Caroline gathered her things in silence, then looked at Eden and said with a sigh, “t’amie a la chance.” But Eden doubted Sophia would feel lucky if she knew what Eden had done.

Caroline saw the misery in Eden’s eyes and told her gently, “Il faut que tu m’oublies. Then, added with a smile, “Mais, je ne t’oublierai jamias—‘monsieur,’” and she stepped into the street.

Eden wished it was as simple as forgetting. She turned back to the picture, covered it and walked home.

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