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Finding Eden(2)

By:Mia Sheridan



I climbed back in between the crisp sheets, still fully clothed. Sleep took me under her dark wing, sweeping me away into blessed oblivion.

I dreamed of morning glories, I dreamed of him, my love, wispy images that twisted and turned and washed away under a wave of water so big I was crushed beneath it. There was no breath in my lungs left to call his name, to whisper the words I needed him to know in the end - that I loved him, that I'd always love him, that he was my strength and my weakness, my endless joy, and my greatest sorrow.

I woke up crying, breathless but silent.

I went to the bathroom and stripped my clothes somberly and stood in front of the mirror for a moment, running my hand over my flat belly and sucking back a sob. I stepped under the warm spray and tilted my head back, wetting my hair. I hung my head forward and let go of that which I had held so tightly inside for the past week. I sunk down to the floor of the shower, pulled myself back against the wall, and finally allowed myself to sob as the sound of the running water masked my cries.



**********



I walked out into a large hallway, showered, dressed and having relieved a small portion of the burden of my grief, at least for the moment.

The sounds of dishes clattering drew me and I peeked into a large kitchen where the jeweler was seated in front of a plate of food, an open magazine on the table next to it.

"Good morning," he said, getting up. "You look refreshed. Did you sleep well?"

I nodded. "Yes, thank you." I eyed the food sitting on the table—a plate of bacon and eggs, and a dish of fruit.

The jeweler followed my eyes and waved me over to him. "Please, sit. Eat. We can discuss the arrangements I mentioned last night."

I nodded, biting my lip, and took a seat at the table as he dished up food and set it before me.

I took a few bites before looking up and gathering my resolve. I wanted to stay here. The man was nice, or so it seemed. But, I was pretty sure what his "arrangements" would include, and I didn't think it was possible for me—I couldn't fathom it. Not after what I'd been through. I would return to the street—I might die there—but death didn't scare me, not anymore.

I'll be waiting for you, by a spring. Come find me, I'll be there.

I cleared my throat. "I can't accept the arrangement you propose," I said, lowering my eyes.

He furrowed his brow, his coffee cup stopping midway to his mouth. He tilted his head. "I haven't proposed anything yet."

Heat moved up my neck and I looked down. "I understand what you want," I said softly.

The jeweler watched me for a minute and then lowered his coffee cup, causing it to clatter back down to the saucer. I looked up at him as he stared at me, looking . . . angry? Sad? I couldn't be sure. "That's not what I want."

I looked at him in confusion. "You said you had an arrangement we could discuss."

He took a deep breath and stared at me for a few moments. "First of all, I don't think we've met properly. My name is Felix Grant. Please call me Felix. Yes?"

I nodded, waiting for him to continue.

"Okay, good. Now what's your name?"

"Eden," I said softly.

"And your last name?"

I looked down and cleared my throat. "I don't know."

"You don't know your last name?" he asked, incredulously.

I shook my head. "No, I know I had one once, but after my family died, I went to live with someone else, and . . . I can't remember it."

He was silent for another few beats. "How is that possible? How did you go to school without a last name?"

"I never went to school," I said softly, more color moving up into my face.

"How old are you?"

"I'm eighteen," I said. Felix looked at me as if he didn't believe me.

More silence and then, "Eden, do I need to call the police? What happened to you?"

My eyes flew to his at the word police. "No! Please, no. I . . . no one is looking for me. I'm not a runaway or anything. I just . . . I don't have anyone anymore. They're all . . . gone now. Please no police." My voice broke on the last word and I looked at him pleadingly, ready to run if he went for a phone.

Felix looked at me thoughtfully for several beats before he finally said, "What can you do, Eden? Do you cook? Clean?"

I shook my head. "I wasn't allowed to do any of that. I can play the piano," I said hopefully. It was pretty much the only thing I could do.

Felix raised his eyebrows. "Is that so? Well, it just so happens I have a granddaughter who's been asking for piano lessons. Are you good enough to teach her?"

I nodded my head slowly. "Yes. Yes, I could teach the piano."

Felix nodded. "Okay, then. This is the arrangement I propose—you're hired. Room and board is included in your salary. And your job includes nothing more than teaching my granddaughter, Sophia, the piano. Is that clear, Eden?"

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