The narrator sneaks up to the canvas while Renoir away. She gets caught up in the conversation of the painting’s models who are lounging at fully laden table on a balcony. This assignment had a very low risk assessment, a Class-3 mission, the narrator confides in the reader, not like Class-1 mission, The Battle of Little Bighorn or the Titanic.
Yet, as it turns out, one of the female models, Alphonsine, was late and the other models impatient. The narrator is soon asked to fill in, taking Alphonsine’s place on the balcony railing. No excuse will save our narrator from being fired when she returns to the 24th century, but she always be remembered for her place in one of the most famous paintings ever as the woman who could be Alphonsine or a mysterious other.
In my opinion, time travel stories are hard to pull off. This is a very good example of a one that does not try to do too much or over explain. It stays in the moment or the present action of the story and unapologetically moves forward assuming an intelligent reader.
Thank you! This story was marvelous!
Steele, Allen M. “An Incident at the Luncheon of the Boating Party.” The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. December 2005, Vol. 109, No. 6. p. 60 - 66