Hysteria by L.J. Ross Read Online (FREE)
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“No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.”
—Sigmund Freud, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
Jardin des Tuileries, Paris
There were worse places to be than Paris in the autumn.
The city was resplendent in the early morning sunshine, which touched the rooftop of the Palais Garnier with trailing fingers and burnished the River Seine a rippling, molten gold. There, the Old World reigned supreme; its gentle arches and Lutetian limestone the stuff of lovers, artists, writers and—of course—the very rich.
But wherever you went, the gutters still stank of piss.
Eva Bisset hardly noticed its stench as she guided her rickety scooter through the back streets of the 1st Arrondissement with the kind of blithe disregard for life, limb and traffic codes that came from knowing every corner and cobbled stone in that great city. Regal buildings passed by in a blur as she joined the bustling melee of drivers delivering food and flowers to the upper echelons of Parisian society, whose number had swelled in the weeks leading up to Fashion Week—a bi-annual event that attracted celebrities, designers and models from around the globe, all of whom came to see and be seen.
Eva saw them.
She saw tall, glossy men and women posing outside the Pyramide of the Louvre or draping themselves over one of the picturesque wooden benches lining the banks of the river, dressed in scraps of geometric material that probably cost more than her apartment. She watched them from the shadows—invisible, unseen—and delivered gluten-free sushi to the waifs who dared to nibble on it, all the time wondering how wealthy you needed to be, or how unhappy, to refuse the offer of food even when you were hungry.
“Eh! Salope! Regarde óu tu vas, idiote!”
She swerved suddenly to dodge the bonnet of a taxi, ignoring a stream of abuse from its driver before hurrying onward, crossing an invisible boundary between the real world and one inhabited by a chosen few, whose whims and wants she catered to. She tried to imagine what it would be like, never having to worry about money or the lack thereof; to dine at the finest restaurants and sleep soundly every night, without fear.
But there were many kinds of fear, and Eva found herself wondering whether it was she who was the lucky one, for there were some who could stay in that glittering paradise but could never leave.
* * *
Orange and pink would be in fashion, next season.
A cursory glance towards the collection of people gathered around a fountain in the Jardin des Tuileries was enough to confirm it, and Eva raised an eyebrow at the garish display of silks billowing on the morning breeze. Painting a smile on her face, she hitched a large bag of insulated food over her shoulder and crossed the ground to meet them, panting slightly beneath its weight.