Work. Ride on the Met. Ten minute walk. Collapse onto nearest soft surface. Repeat.
Her bloodshot eyes catch the attention of no-one - people don’t notice the girl wearing designer rags on the RER, let alone come close enough to see each vein standing to attention in her eyes. The cycle she has deemed both pathetic and life, as if the two are a Venn diagram with so much overlap it’s more of a circle, drags on her weary bones day in day out.
The thing about cycle is it forms a routine, cuts itself into a canyon in her life until it’s nearly impossible to escape. The same train in the same seat every morning and night. An endless monotony unbroken by buskers and fistfights and the chaos of people. Eponine’s gaze has long since glazed over when faced with the world around her. Faces blur into an indistinguishable mass. Nothing stands out.
At night through fitful sleep, fractured pieces of a life - long since gone or soon to come she didn't know - filtered into her dreams. Glimpses of faces and blood and an overwhelming sense of anguish. Though she didn't pick the last one, too embroiled with it in her present to even register.
The monotony broke with a brunette in a summer dress and a Southern accent. Hurrying to get her train, because some fucking customer had decided to win 'most indecisive of the month', Eponine was more focused on how fast she was moving her feet than where she was putting them. It was only right that she smack into the one person who didn't seem to be rushing in the entire station.
Eponine apologised by rote and proffered a hand. She was already late, so late that she supposed another 30 seconds wouldn't make an iota of difference.
As Eponine's eyes settled on the other woman's face, she let out a breath.
"I swear, I've seen your face before."
The woman gave her an odd look, brows furrowed. "I'm sorry, I've never..."
Eponine cut her off with a shake of her head, giving the woman a tight smile. "Sorry, must be thinking of someone else. Have a good day and all that."
She walked off, deaf to the woman's call.
The whole ride home Eponine couldn't get the blood soaked image of the woman that had appeared when she'd looked at her face. Though it had been a younger version of the woman, curls done up in a bonnet, wearing a stiff period dress.
That night she dreamed of her death, of bullets and blood and the streets of Paris. That night she remembers everything. Eponine wakes up with the name Cosette revered on her tongue.
"It's you again!" Not even a week later Eponine encountered Cosette again, this time during her evening shop run. She was buying mostly wine and bread, but also several things that were neither wine nor bread.
Behind her in the queue was the woman from the station. Cosette.
"I won't knock you over this time, promise."
Cosette laughed and Eponine felt like someone had gutted her, replacing her innards with a physical manifestation of pure joy. Eponine sucked in a breath, the feeling crashing as Cosette greeted a man carrying a basket with a kiss on the lips. Practically snatching her things from the shop lady, she scurried off.
“No, please don’t go yet, I didn’t even get your name!” Eponine froze in the doorway. Images of Marius (Marius and Cosette in this life as well as the last), of his friends with blank faces with their guts spilled out after being attacked by bayonets and shot and shot and shot again for good measure flashed in her mind.
With hesitation barely perceptible but still there, Eponine walked home, not looking back.
It became something of a trend. The next time they had run into each other, Eponine had spun and stalked off in the opposite direction as fast as she could. Which was very fast indeed.
Cosette was smarter about it next time, almost playful. She stuck in with the crowd, head down and movements slow until she was right beside Eponine.
“I keep seeing you around. I’m starting to think there’s a little bit of stalking going on,” Cosette said, voice close to her ear and Eponine jumped a mile.
“I’m sorry I’m late. Got to go.”
She could almost see the pout on the face behind her. A warping of the face and lips which she’d never been able to resist, not then and not now. A reluctant turn had her facing Cosette, whose face broke out in a smile like the sun.
“I can’t describe it, really. It’s funny, I’m not usually the one like this - my boyfriend, it’s how he met me. Bit of a long story actually, but...anyway. I’d like to get to know you. OR keep running into you. Do you live around here?”
Eponine nodded, cautious.
“That would probably explain it some then. I’ve just moved here myself, from the South but you probably guessed that.” Cosette laughed, and Eponine was struck with how familiar a sound it was already.
“Ah, damn, I have to get going, and I shouldn’t have held you up either, god me and my mouth. Here, take my phone number.” She shoved a slip of paper at Eponine. “I doubt that you’ll call, but there’s no harm in trying right. I just…” A bold step closer, a friendly hand on Eponine’s arm which meant so much more to one than the other. “I feel like we’re connected, somehow, in the grand scheme of the universe. God that sounds dumb, but maybe you feel it too. Who knows. My names Cosette, by the way!”
She left Eponine like that, fist closed so tightly around the precious slip of paper that when she finally shoved it in her pocket there were half moon crescents imprinted on her palm.