The first thing Eden saw upon waking was a pale gold ring lying on the bedside table at eye level. Then she saw the little garnet. Eden turned over in the bed. “Sophie?” she said aloud. But she was alone.
She sat up and looked back at the bedside table. The ring lay atop a single sheet of folded, unsealed paper. Eden clasped the ring up, squeezing it until it bruised her palm as she opened the letter and read.
Do not think this means I do not love you. I will never stop loving you with all my heart. Do not think it means that I do not forgive you. I believe that everything you told me is true. But I must allow you to let me go. Your genius has a greater claim on you than I do. I would not stand in its way. Be free and happy. Shine and be strong. I will be ever watching for news of your success. But do not write to me. To hold merely your letters when I can never again hold your dear self would be a pain too much for me to bear. It is hard enough that when I close my eyes I see nothing but you. I will always love you.
Eden could not stifle the loud sob that shook her.
Suddenly Eleanor was standing in the doorway. Eden gave her a frantic look and she knelt by the girl’s side and folded her in her arms.
“She’s gone, El, she’s gone,” Eden repeated over and over as she shook in her friend’s embrace.