Remember Me?(11)

by Sophie Kinsella

“I guess you don't remember?” Amy strokes his hair fondly. “You adopted him from Vietnam six months ago. It was quite a story, actually. You had to smuggle him out in your rucksack. You nearly got arrested!” I adopted a baby? I feel cold to my guts. I can't be a mum. I'm not ready. I don't know anything about babies. “Say hello to your child!” She carts him over to the bed, clicking in her spiky heels. “He calls you Moo-​mah, by the way.” Moo-​mah? “Hi, Lennon,” I say at last, my voice stiff with selfconsciousness. “It''s Moo-​mah!” I try to adopt a motherly, cooing voice. “Come to Moo-​mah!” I look up to see Amy's lips trembling strangely. Suddenly she gives a snort of laughter and claps a hand over her mouth. “Sorry!” “Amy, what's going on?” I stare at her, suspicion dawning. “Is this really my baby?” “I saw him in the corridor before,” she splutters. “I couldn't resist it. Your face!” She's in paroxysms of laughter. “ 'Come to Moo-​mah!'” I can hear muffled cries and shouts coming from outside the door. “That must be his parents!” I hiss in consternation. “You bloody little... Put him back!” I collapse on my pillows in relief, my heart pounding. Thank fuck. I don't have a child. And I cannot get over Amy. She used to be so sweet and innocent. She used to watch Barbie Sleeping Beauty over and over with her thumb in her mouth. What's happened to her? 55 “I nearly had a heart attack,” I say reproachfully as she comes back in, holding a can of diet Coke. “If I died, it would be your fault.” “Well, you need to get savvy,” she retorts with an unrepentant grin. “People could feed you all kinds of bullshit.” She takes out a stick of chewing gum and starts unwrapping it. Then she leans forward. “Hey, Lexi,” she says in a low voice. “Have you really got amnesia or are you just making it up? I won't tell.” “ What? Why would I make it up?” “I thought there might be something you wanted to get out of. Like a dentist's appointment.” “No! This is genuine!” “Okay. Whatever.” She shrugs and offers me the gum. “No, thanks.” I wrap my arms around my knees, suddenly daunted. Amy's right. People could take total advantage of me. I have so much to learn and I don't even know where to start. Well, I could start with the obvious. “So.” I try to sound casual. “What's my husband like? What does h e . . . look like?” “Wow.” Amy's eyes open wide. “Of course! You have no idea what he's like!” “Mum said he was nice...” I try to hide my apprehension. “He is lovely.” She nods seriously. “He has a real sense of humor. And they're going to operate on his hump.” “Yeah. Nice try, Amy.” I roll my eyes. “Lexi! He'd be really hurt if he heard that!” Amy looks taken aback. “This is 2007. We don't discriminate because of looks. And Eric is such a sweet, loving guy. It's not his 56 fault his back was damaged when he was a baby. And he's achieved so much. He's awe-​inspiring.” Now I'm hot with shame. Maybe my husband does have a hump. I shouldn't be hump-​ist. Whatever he looks like, I'm sure I chose him for a very good reason. “Can he walk?” I ask nervously. “He walked for the first time at your wedding,” says Amy, her eyes distant with memory. “He got up out of his wheelchair to say his vows. Everyone was in tears... the vicar could hardly speak ” Her mouth is twitching again. “You little cow!” I exclaim. “He doesn't bloody well have a hump, does he?” “I'm sorry.” She starts giggling helplessly. “But this is such a good game.”

“It's not a game!” I clutch at my hair, forgetting my injuries, and wince. “It's my life. I have no idea who my husband is, or how I met him, or anything ” “Okay.” She appears to relent. “What happened was you got talking to this grizzled old tramp on the street. And his name was Eric“ ”Shut up! If you won't tell me, I'll ask Mum.“ ”All right!“ She lifts her hands in surrender. ”You seriously want to know?”

“Yes!” “Okay, then. You met him on a TV show.” “Try again.” I lift my eyes to heaven. “It's true! I'm not bullshitting now. You were on that reality show Ambition. Where people want to get to the top in business. He was one of the judges and you were a contestant. You didn't get very far on the show, but you met Eric, and you hit it off.”

There's silence. I'm waiting for her to crack up laughing and produce some punch line, but she just swigs from the can of diet Coke. “I was on a reality show?” I say skeptically. “Yeah. It was really cool. All my friends watched, and we all voted for you. You should have won!” I eye her closely, but her face is totally serious. Is she telling the truth? Was I really on the telly? “Why on earth did I go on a show like that?” “To be the boss?” Amy shrugs. “To get ahead. That's when you had your teeth and hair done, to look good on TV.” “But I'm not ambitious. I mean, I'm not that ambitious . . .” . “Are you kidding?” Amy opens her eyes wide. “You're, like, the most ambitious person in the world! As soon as your boss resigned you went for his job. All the bigwigs at your company had seen you on telly and they were really impressed. So they gave it to you.” My mind flashes back to those business cards in my diary. Lexi Smart, Director. “You're the youngest director they've ever had in the company. It was so cool when you got the job,“ Amy adds. ”We all went out to celebrate, and you bought us all champagne . . .“ She pulls her chewing gum out of her mouth in a long strand. ”You don't remember any of this?“ ”No! Nothing!“ The door opens and Mum appears, holding a tray bearing a covered plate, a pot of chocolate mousse, and a glass of water. ”Here we are,“ she says. ”I've brought you some lasagne. And guess what? Eric's here!“ 58 ”Here?“ The blood drains from my face. ”D'you mean... here in the hospital?“ Mum nods. ”He's on his way up right now to see you! I told him to give you a few moments to get ready.“ A few moments? I need more than a few moments. This is all happening way too fast. I'm not even ready to be twenty-​eight yet. Let alone meet some husband I allegedly have. ”Mum, I'm not sure I can do this,“ I say, panicked. ”I mean... I don't feel up to meeting him yet. Maybe I should see him tomorrow. When I'm a bit more adjusted.“ ”Lexi, darling!“ remonstrates Mum. ”You can't turn your husband away. He's rushed here from his business especially to see you!“ ”But I don't know him! I won't know what to say or what to d o . . .“ ”Darling, he's your husband.“ She pats my hand reassuringly. ”There's nothing to worry about.“ ”He might trigger your memory,“ chimes in Amy, who has helped herself to the chocolate mousse pot and is ripping the top off. ”You might see him and go 'Eric! My love! It all comes back to me!'“ ”Shut up,“ I snap. ”And that's my chocolate mousse.“ ”You don't eat carbs,“ she retorts. ”Have you forgotten that too?“ She waves the spoon tantalizingly in front of my face. ”Nice try, Amy,“ I say, rolling my eyes. ”There's no way I would ever have given up chocolate.“ ”You never eat chocolate anymore. Does she, Mum? You didn't eat any of your own wedding cake because of the calories!” She has to be bullshitting me. I wouldn't have given up chocolate, not in a million years. I'm about to tell her to piss off and hand over the mousse, when there's a knock at the door and a muffled male voice calls, “Hello?” “Oh my God.” I look wildly from face to face. “Oh my God. Is that him? Already?” “Hold on a moment, Eric!” Mum calls through the door, then she whispers to me. “Tidy yourself up a bit, sweetheart! You look like you've been dragged through a hedge.” “Give her a break, Mum,” says Amy. “She was dragged through the wreckage of a car, remember?” “I'll just comb your hair quickly...” Mum comes over with a tiny handbag comb and starts jerking at my head. “Ow!” I protest. “You'll make my amnesia worse!” “There.” She gives a final tug, and wipes at my face with the corner of a hanky. “Ready?” “Shall I open the door?” says Amy. “No! Just... wait a sec.” My stomach is churning in dread. I can't meet some total stranger who's apparently my husband. It's just...too freaky. “Mum, please.” I turn to her. “It's too soon. Tell him to come back later. Tomorrow. Or we could leave it a few weeks, even.” “Don't be silly, darling!” Mum laughs. How can she laugh? “He's your husband. And you've just been in a car accident and he's been worried sick, and we've kept him waiting long enough, poor chap!” As Mum heads toward the door I'm gripping the sheets so hard, the blood is squashed out of my fingertips. “What if I hate him? What if there's no chemistry between us?” My voice shoots out in terror. “I mean, does he expect me to go back and live with him?” “Just play it by ear,” Mum says vaguely. “Really, Lexi, there's nothing to worry about. He's very nice.” 60 “As long as you don't mention his toupee,” puts in Amy.