I have found a way to leave a mark, she wants to say to him. You thought you could erase me from this world, but you cannot. I am still here. I will always be here.

The taste of the words—that triumph—is sweet as sugar on her tongue. But there is a warning tint to his gaze tonight, and knowing Luc, he would find a way to turn it against her, to take this small solace from her before she’s found a way to use it.

So she says nothing.

New York City

April 25, 2014


A wave of applause rolls across the grass.

It’s a gorgeous spring day, one of the first where the warmth lingers as the sun goes down, and they’re sitting on a blanket at the edge of Prospect Park as performers file on and off a pop-up stage across the green.

“I can’t believe you remember it all,” he says as a new singer climbs the steps.

“It’s like living with déjà vu,” she says, “only you know exactly where you’ve seen or heard or felt a thing before. You know every time, and place, and they sit stacked on top of each other like pages in a very long and complicated book.”

Henry shakes his head. “I would have lost my mind.”

“Oh, I did,” she says blithely. “But when you live long enough, even madness ends.”

The new singer is … not good.

A teenage boy whose voice is equal parts growl and screech. Addie hasn’t been able to catch more than a word or two of the lyrics, let alone detect a melody. But the lawn is full, the audience brimming with enthusiasm, less for the performance than the chance to wave their numbered cards.

It’s Brooklyn’s answer to an open mic: a charity concert where people pay to perform, and others pay to judge them.

“Seems kind of cruel,” she pointed out when Henry handed her the cards.

“It’s for a good cause,” he said, cringing at the final notes of a flat saxophone.

The song ends to a wave of weak applause.

The field is a sea of 2s and 3s. Henry holds up a 9.

“You can’t give them all nines and tens,” she says.

Henry shrugs. “I feel bad for them. It takes a lot of guts to get up there and perform. What about you?”

She looks down at the cards. “I don’t know.”

“You told me you were a talent scout.”

“Yes, well, it was easier than telling you I was a three-hundred-and-twenty-three-year-old ghost whose only hobby is inspiring artists.”

Henry reaches out and runs his finger down her cheek. “You’re not a ghost.”

The next song starts, and ends, and scattered applause falls like rain across the lawn.

Henry gives it a 7.

Addie holds up a 3.

Henry looks at her, aghast.

“What?” she says. “It wasn’t very good.”

“We were rating on talent? Well, shit.”

Addie laughs, and there’s a lull between acts, some dispute about who is supposed to go up next. Canned music spills from the speakers, and they lie back in the grass, Addie’s head resting against his stomach, the soft in and out of his breath like a shallow wave beneath her.

Here is a new kind of silence, rarer than the rest. The easy quiet of familiar spaces, of places that fill simply because you are not alone within them. A notebook sits beside them on the blanket. Not the blue one; that is already full. This new one is an emerald green, nearly the same shade as Luc’s eyes when he is showing off.

A pen juts up between the pages, holding Henry’s place.

Every day, Addie has told him stories.

Over eggs and coffee, she recounted the torturous walk to Le Mans. In the bookstore one morning, as they unpacked new releases, she relived that first year in Paris. Tangled in the sheets last night, she told him of Remy. Henry has asked for the truth, her truth, and so she is telling it. In pieces, fragments tucked like bookmarks between the movement of their days.

Henry is like bottled lightning, unable to sit still for long, full of nervous energy, but every moment there’s a lull, a sliver of peace and quiet, he grabs the latest notebook, and a pen, and even though she always thrills at the sight of the words—her words—spilling across the page, she teases him for the urgency with which he writes them.

“We have time,” she reminds him, smoothing his hair.

Addie stretches out against him, and looks up at the dying light, the sky streaked purple and blue. It is almost night, and she knows that a roof would do nothing if the darkness looked her way, but lying here, beneath the open sky, she still feels exposed.

They’ve been lucky, so lucky, but the trouble with luck is that it always ends.

And perhaps it is just the nervous tapping of Henry’s fingers on the journal.

And perhaps it is just the moonless sky.

And perhaps it is just that happiness is frightening.

The next band takes the stage.

But as the music rings out across the lawn, she can’t take her eyes from the dark.

London, England

March 26, 1827


She could live in the National Gallery.

Indeed, she has spent a season here, wandering from room to room, feasting on the paintings and the portraits, the sculptures and the tapestries. A life spent among friends, among echoes.

She moves through marble halls, and counts the pieces she has touched, the marks left by other hands, but guided by her own.

At last count, there were six in this particular collection.

Six pillars, holding her aloft.

Six voices, carrying her through.

Six mirrors, reflecting pieces of her back into the world.

There is no sign of Matteo’s sketch, not among these finished works, but she sees those early lines reflected in his masterpiece, The Muse, sees them again in the sculpture of a face resting on a hand, the painting of a woman sitting by the sea.

She is a ghost, a gossamer, laid like film across the work.

But she is there.

She is there.

An attendant informs her they will be closing soon, and Addie thanks him, and continues on her round. She could stay, but the vast halls are not as cozy as the flat in Kensington, a gem left unattended in the winter months.

Addie pauses in front of her favorite piece, a portrait of a girl before a looking glass. Her back is to the artist, the room and girl rendered in high detail, but her reflection little more than streaks. Her face rendered only in the silver smudges of the mirror. And yet, up close, anyone would see the scattering of freckles, like floating stars against the warped grey sky.

“How clever you are,” says a voice behind her.

Addie was alone in the gallery, and now she is not.

She glances left, and sees Luc staring past her at the painting, his head inclined as if admiring the work, and for a moment, Addie feels like a cabinet, the doors flung open. She is not coiled, not wound tight with waiting, because there are still months until their anniversary.

“What are you doing here?” she asks.

His mouth twitches once, relishing her surprise. “I am everywhere.”

It has never occurred to her that he could come as he pleased, that he is not bound in some way by the dates of their deal. That his visits, just like the absence of them, have always been by design—by choice.