That girl, the girl Edouard had married, looked back with an expression I no longer recognized. He had seen it in me long before anyone else did: It speaks of knowledge, that smile—of satisfaction gained and given. It speaks of pride. When his Parisian friends had found his love of me—a shopgirl—inexplicable, he had just smiled, because he could already see this in me.
I never knew if he understood that I found it only because of him.
I stood and gazed at her, and, for a few seconds, I remembered how it had felt to be that girl, free of hunger, of fear, consumed only by idle thoughts of what private moments I might spend with Edouard. She reminded me that the world is capable of beauty, and that there were once things—art, joy, love—that filled my world, instead of fear and nettle soup and curfews. I saw him in my expression. And then I realized what I had just done. He had reminded me of my own strength, of how much I had left in me with which to fight.
When you return, Edouard, I swear I will once again be the girl you painted.