“Come with me to the porch,” Lillian said, wiping down the kitchen table with a towel, folding it and laying it on her own chair.
Eden followed her mother to a pair of chairs under the low eaves. The horizon glowed a faint purple as the sun set and soon stars began to appear.
“What happened at Minna’s this morning?” Lillian asked at last.
“Nothing, Mama. She was just busy.”
“If she was busy, you might have helped her—taken the babies at least.”
“I don’t think she wanted me to do that.”
“She has missed you—especially last summer. She was hurt when she heard nothing for so long after sending you her news. You got it, didn’t you?”
Eden was quiet for a moment. Last summer she had been working on Aphrodite. She had been sorry to hear about her sister’s baby. But Arizona had been so far away. Then Sophia had come…and gone. After that, Eden had written no one else for months.
“I got it,” she said.
“You must have been very busy, yourself,” Lillian said.
Eden had not told her parents about the exhibition. “How do you know about that?” she asked.
“Eleanor Stephens sent some clippings. She was afraid you would be too modest to tell us about your success.”
“Now and then she writes,” Lillian said. “Nothing since the clippings.”
“What does she write?”
“Just news about you. She tells us how well you are doing.”
“She writes to Papa too?”
“She means me to share the letters with your father, I’m sure,” Lillian said.
Eden had never considered that any relationship between her parents and Eleanor existed other than one she might orchestrate herself. But of course, Eleanor could write to anyone.
“Do you write her too?” Eden asked.
“I never felt the need.”
Eden reached instinctively to her breast pocket, then remembered not to smoke. She bit her lip instead. And she told her mother about Aphrodite; about Caroline; about Sophia.