Madame du Barry, an old courtesan, sits beside me and clasps my hand in hers. I remember her death. All of Paris does. She screamed her head off. Quite literally. Please, she wheedles now, think of apricots, the scent of roses, the pricking of champagne bubbles on the tongue.
The dead are bigger thieves than I ever was. They steal the most precious things from me. The feel of silk. The sound of rain pattering on the cobbles. The smell of snow on the wind. They take these things and leave me with the taste of dirt and ashes
I think not of apricots, but of guillotines and graves.
She frowns. For those I do not need your help, she says, and flounces off.