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, 15 I went straight to 44 Place Ste-Odile, ready to bang with knuckle, fist, and boot on the door. But I didn’t have to. Ilya had just come home and was unlocking the front door as I crossed the courtyard. He heard me but didn’t turn around. We’d played in this courtyard as children. We were here still. I wanted to play again, to be Ilya’s adored little sister. I put my hands over his eyes. “Guess who?” I said. “Emma,” Ilya said. I flinched. Siblings knew where to stick the knife, where the soft underbelly was hidden, but you had to be tough and take that. “Ouch,” I said, making a joke of it, trying to keep this light enough to charm my way through the door and up the stairs. “But wrong.” I didn’t move my hands. Ilya was feeling around for the doorknob, trying to fit the key into the lock. I pressed my thumbs, hard, against his eyes. “Vera?” he said this time. “Bingo,” I said. He lifted my hands from his eyes. He turned around, letting mylefthanddrop,holdingmyrighthandinhis.Helookedawful.Abloodvessel had burst in one eye, and the red had spread across the white next to the deep blue of his iris, spread too far for me to have just done it with my thumbs. He saw me looking at it and shrugged. “The tricolor,” he said, meaning the French flag: blue, white, and red. “Are you angry that I came back?” I asked him. He shook his head. “But it would have been better for both of us if you hadn’t. You should have flown home to America on the next plane. After yesterday, anyone with sense would have.” 143 “I’m your twin sister. You can’t expect me to have more sense than you do.” Hefrowned.“YoushouldneverhavecometoParis.”HesoundedlikeApolline. I shook my head. “Once you start that, the regrets never stop. Maybe it would have been better if we’d never been born.” “Don’t say that,” Ilya said. He squeezed my fingers, let them drop. “Be glad you’re alive. I am.” “In spite of everything?” “Yes,” he said. “But I still wish you’d gone home.” Then he let me come upstairs, a greater concession than our mother had granted our father. We went into the kitchen. The coffee pot was back on the stove, although the wall by the bathroom still boasted a long rusty brown stain. Ilya opened a bottle of wine and poured us each a glass. I thought about it, then broke his rule about not mentioning Anne-Sophie. I risked a glass of wine in the face, another trip down the stairs and back to the Hôtel Batignolles. “Was there a funeral?” I asked. “Or will there be?” Ilya didn’t throw anything, just shook his head. “I signed the papers for the Mother Superior,” he said. He took a deep breath. “They baptized her; they cared for her. They want to bury her in the cemetery with their order of nuns. She belonged to them, really. Not me.” “Did someone tell her mother?” “Barbara?” he said. “Yes, I called this morning. The nuns had her number.” “What did she say?” Ilya raised one shoulder, let it drop, then did it again as if one shrug in a case likethiscouldneverbeenough.“Shesaidsheappreciatedmylettingherknow.” Hetookalongdrinkofhiswine.“Shesaidshehadn’trealizedAnne-Sophiewas still alive. Such a long time, she said. Unusual.” He filled his glass again. “What a bitch,” I said. “How could she not have known her daughter was alive?” Ilya waved a hand, like Ben had after my parents’ deaths. Let it go, let it go. “Bitch,” I said again, because he wouldn’t. Then I fixed us dinner, though Ilya was suspicious of what I put on his plate. “It isn’t an omelet,” I said, trying not to sound defensive. “It’s scrambled eggs. In America, we make them this way on purpose.” Then, when we were done, I showed him my copy of the letter the film scholar had found. 144 He read it, handed it back to me. “That’s interesting,” he said. “Interesting, as in that’s unbelievable because no one lives to be 112? Or interesting , as in you think it’s true and that’s our dear old dad?” “At the home where Anne-Sophie lives,” he corrected himself, “lived, there’s a woman who’s 114. I don’t think she’s even the oldest woman...


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