Sophia opened the front door. It was ten o’clock and she had been either sitting for today’s examinations or studying for tomorrow’s since eight in the morning. She longed for bed and hoped Claire had already retired to her room.
She switched on the light and took off her hat, inspecting her exhausted face in the mirror as she smoothed her hair uselessly. On the table in the hall was a pile of mail. She nearly left it for the morning, but after hanging her coat on a hook, she picked it up and found beneath two letters from her mother, a thick packet sealed with red wax and addressed in an unfamiliar hand. The packet was postmarked “Paris.”
Her heart pounded as she groped her way up the dark stairs and to her room. Claire called to her, but she paid no attention, locking her door behind her. She sat upon her bed and opened the packet. At least a dozen letters tumbled out. A loose sheet that had been folded around them lay atop the pile. She picked it up.
Enclosed here, please find the letters Eden has been writing to you since you left last summer.
I confess with some embarrassment that I thought it best to prevent her correspondence with you, knowing you yourself had forbidden it, and feeling that both of you would do better to part without the lingering pain such correspondence can cause.
I acted, perhaps, outside the scope of my friendship with Eden. Perhaps it is too much to ask you to believe I meant well or to forgive me for it now. But Eden’s behavior these past months has been increasingly alarming and now that she has left France and will have nothing to do with me, I see no harm in sending you these letters. Perhaps there is something you can do to help her after all.
Please accept my sincere apology for interfering in this way. You have all my best wishes and highest respect,
Sophia turned to the letters from Eden and read them in the order they had fallen, smearing the ink on every page with her tears.