The Lucky One

Reclining on a soft, fluffy cushion, Éponine sighed. Gavroche peered up at her from the floor, where he lay absorbed in his task of shooting marbles.

"What's the matter? Still thinking about that Marius fellow?"

"Yes. I wonder how he is," she replied dreamily.

"Probably married that girl you told me about," answered Gavroche, expertly flicking his aggie at the cluster of helpless marbles.

"Yes, I suppose. Still, I'd like to see him again." Éponine stood up and smoothed the skirt of her pale blue silk dress. She began to pace about the room, fretting. "I can't wait forever to see him! I must go see him! I'll ask if I can go!"

Gavroche shook his head. "Silly girl. Could you possibly want more than you have now?" But she was already out the door. He resumed shooting his marbles, rolling up the linen sleeve of his fine new white shirt, to get a better shot.

Éponine walked briskly down the corridor, humming a little tune. She approached the front desk. "Excuse me, I'd like to make a request. I'd like to go visit someone."

"Oh?" said the receptionist. "Not causing trouble, are you?"

"Oh, no ma'am! I just want to see him!" she exclaimed. "To make sure he's happy-- can it be done?"

"Well, if you really want, you may have one visit back. But, I doubt you'll like what you see," answered the kindly older lady, gesturing to a golden enclosure, like a tiny closet. Éponine turned the pearl-inlaid handle, stepped inside, and began the slow descent back to Earth.

She arrived in the Rue du Filles-Calvaire. The year was 1836, four years after her death. She stepped up onto the porch of the house whose front yard she'd appeared in. Her hand went up to ring the bell, then she stopped to think. "Wait a minute. I'm a ghost!" she exclaimed, and stepped through the door.

Right away, she was greeted with the overwhelming scent of flowers. "Lilacs. Ugh, they make me sneeze," she muttered, but no sneeze came from her. "I could begin to like this."

She walked throughout the ground floor of the house, admiring all the lovely furniture, the draperies, and the bric-a-brac. "Not as nice as I have now, but still.." She floated up the stairs, searching for her Marius. "Could this be the wrong house?" she murmured. "Odd. You wouldn't think they would screw up."

Suddenly, a male voice shouted from the bedroom. Éponine jumped, startled at the sudden break in the silence. "Hah! That's new, the living scaring the ghost!" She crept through the door to investigate.

Marius was sitting on the bed, dressed in trousers and an wrinkled shirt, unfastened at the neck. His hair was tousled, as if from sleep. He glared at Cosette with a sullen look.

Cosette was standing beside the bureau, hands trembling, searching through the drawers frantically. Her face had resumed some of the expression of the lark that she was as a child. Sad lines creased her forehead. She was biting her lip in frustration and nervousness.

"Haven't you found it yet?" Marius snapped impatiently, in a tone Eponine had never heard from his lips before.

"No, not yet." Cosette said hoarsely, barely above a whisper. "You're sure you put it in here?"

"No, I'm not! I don't know where it is! Have I time to keep track of these things? That's what you're supposed to do!" he retorted, grabbing a paperback novel off the nightstand and hurling it at her. It struck her in the knee. "What do you need that junk for? This is why you never get anything done!"

"I do so!" Cosette shrieked suddenly, sniffling, her eyes red and teary. "Do you think it's easy, following you around and keeping track of everything you put down, remembering where you're supposed to be when, and such! Do you? Don't I deserve some little pleasure once in a while?" she hurled back.

"Not if you can't take care of my things first!" he replied, getting up and stalking out of the room, buttoning his shirt as he went. "Miserable worthless woman," he muttered as he went.

Cosette collapsed onto the bed. Her weeping turned to great gulping sobs, then with a sigh she reached under the bed and pulled out a bottle of brandy. She uncapped it and took two large swallows, stuffed it back under the bed, and lay back down to fall asleep.

Éponine stepped over to her side and laid her palm on Cosette's forehead, as in a blessing. "Good bye for now. I guess we know who was the lucky one."

--Jeni Baron