Eden watched the desert landscape through the dirty window of the gentlemen’s smoking car and thought about how long it had been since she had seen it last. She remembered writing Sophia happy love letters in the summer before their final year at college and marveled at how naive she had been; at how different things were now. She lit a cigarette, leaned back against the seat and closed her eyes.
She wished she had never gone to Paris, never picked up a paint brush, never done a single thing but wait upon Sophia Abington like a priest serving a goddess. She cursed herself for ever thinking she needed anything more than to sit at Sophia’s feet for the rest of her life.
The train pulled into the Tucson station before Eden was finished with her cigarette. But she threw it on the floor of the car and crushed it with her heel. She didn’t want her mother to see her smoking. She collected a bag from beneath her seat and handed a check to the porter to retrieve her trunk. Then she stepped down to the platform and into her mother’s waiting arms.
A sob took Eden by surprise as Lillian held her tight. Lillian pushed Eden an arm’s length away and looked at her crying daughter. She ran her hands through Eden’s hair and brushed the tears from her cheeks. “My baby…don’t cry, you’re home now,” Lillian told her with a smile.
“Mama…Sophia…” Eden managed to say.
Lillian gave her daughter a grave look, “Eden? What of Sophia?”
“She’s given me back her ring. She won’t answer my letters. She won’t see me. I tried—in Boston. She…” Eden shook her head.
“Is it a man? Like Gertrude?”
“No mama,” Eden said, wiping her face hard, willing the tears to stop. “It was my fault…in Paris.”
“Alright, darling,” her mother said, “you can tell me about it when we get home. Your papa is waiting with the wagon.”