Remember Me?(14)

by Sophie Kinsella

I'm learning a lot from this hospital stay. And one thing I've learned is, if you have a relative with amnesia and want to trigger her memory, just show her any old pictureit doesn't matter which one. It's ten minutes later, but I 72 haven't seen a single photo yet, because Mum and Amy keep arguing about where to start. “We don't want to overwhelm her,” Mum keeps saying as they both root through a bag of pictures. “Now, here we are.” She picks up a photo in a cardboard frame.

“No way.”“ Amy grabs it from her. ”I've got a zit on my chin. I look gross.“ ”Amy, it's a tiny pimple. You can hardly see it.“ ”Yes, you can. And this one is even grosser!" She starts ripping both photographs into shreds.

Here I am, waiting to learn all about my long-​lost life, and Amy's destroying the evidence? “I won't look at your zits!” I call over. “Just show me a picture! Anything!”

“All right.” Mum advances toward the bed, holding an unframed print. “I'll hold it up, Lexi. Just look at the image carefully and see if it jogs anything. Ready?“ Mum turns the print around. It's a picture of a dog dressed up as Santa Claus. ”Mum...“ I try to control my frustration. ”Why are you showing me a dog?”

“Darling, it's Tosca!” Mum appears wounded. “She would have looked very different in 2004. And here's Raphael with Amy last week, both looking lovely...” “I look hideous.” Amy snatches the picture and rips it up before I can even see it.

“Stop ripping up the pictures!” I almost yell. “Mum, did you bring photographs of anything else? Like people?” “Hey, Lexi, do you remember this?” Amy comes forward, holding up a distinctive necklace with a rose made out of jade. I squint at it, trying desperately to dredge some memory up. “No,” I say at last. “It doesn't jog anything at all.”

“Cool. Can I have it, then?” “Amy!” says Mum. She riffles through the pictures in her hand with dissatisfaction. “Maybe we should just wait for Eric to come with the wedding DVD. If that doesn't trigger your memory, nothing will.” The wedding DVD. My wedding. Every time I think about this, my stomach curls up with a kind of excited, nervous anticipation. I have a wedding DVD. I had a wedding! The thought is alien. I can't even imagine myself as a bride. Did I wear a pouffy dress with a train and a veil and some hideous floral headdress? I can't even bring myself to ask. “So... he seems nice,” I say. “Eric, I mean. My husband.” “He's super.” Mum nods absently, still leafing through pictures of dogs. “He does a lot for charity, you know. Or the company does, I should say. But it's his own company, so it's all the same.” “He has his own company?” I frown, confused. “I thought he was a real-​estate agent.” “It's a company that sells properties, darling. Big loft developments all over London. They sold off a large part of it last year, but he still retains a controlling interest.“ ”He made ten million quid,“ says Amy, who's still crouched down by the bag of photos. ”He what?” I stare at her.

“He's stinking rich.” She looks up. “Oh, come on. Don't say you hadn't guessed that?” “Amy!” says Mum. “Don't be so vulgar!” I can't quite speak. In fact, I'm feeling a bit faint. Ten million quid?

There's a knock at the door. “Lexi? May I come in?” 74 Oh my God. It's him. I hastily check my reflection and spray myself with some Chanel perfume that I found in the Louis Vuitton bag.

“Come in, Eric!” calls Mum. The door swings openand there he is, manhandling two shopping bags, another bunch of flowers, and a gift basket full of fruit. He's wearing a striped shirt and tan trousers, a yellow cashmere sweater, and loafers with tassels. “Hi, darling.” He puts all his stuff down on the floor, then comes over to the bed and kisses me gently on the cheek. “How are you doing?” “Much better, thanks.” I smile up at him. “But she still doesn't know who you are,” Amy puts in. “You're just some guy in a yellow sweater.” Eric doesn't look remotely fazed. Maybe he's used to Amy being bolshy. “Well, we're going to tackle that today.” He hefts one of the bags, sounding energized. “I've brought along photos, DVDs, souvenirs Let's reintroduce you to your life. Barbara, why don't you put on the wedding DVD?” He hands a shiny disc to Mum. “And to get you started, Lexi...our wedding album.” He heaves an expensivelooking calfskin album onto the bed and I feel a twang of disbelief as I see the embossed words. ALEXIA AND ERIC JUNE 3, 2005 I open it and my stomach seems to drop a mile. I'm staring at a black-​and-​white photograph of me as a bride. I'm wearing a long white sheath dress; my hair's in a sleek knot;

and I'm holding a minimalist bouquet of lilies. Nothing pouffy in sight.

Wordlessly I turn to the next page. There's Eric standing next to me, dressed in black tie. On the following page we're holding glasses of champagne and smiling at each other. We look so glossy. Like people in a magazine. This is my wedding. My actual, real live wedding. If I needed proof... this is proof. From the TV screen suddenly comes the mingled sound of people laughing and chattering. I look up and feel a fresh shock. Up there on the telly, Eric and I are posing in our wedding outfits. We're standing next to a huge white cake, holding a knife together, laughing at someone off screen. I can't take my eyes off myself. “We chose not to record the ceremony,” Eric is explaining. “This is the party afterward.” “Right.” My voice is a tad husky. I've never been sappy about weddings. But as I watch us cutting the cake, smiling for the cameras, posing again for someone who missed the shot... my nose starts to prickle. This is my wedding day, the so-​called happiest day of my life, and I don't remember a thing about it. The camera swings around, catching the faces of people I don't recognize. I spot Mum, in a navy suit, and Amy, wearing a purple strappy dress. We're in some huge, modern-​looking space with glass walls and trendy chairs and floral arrangements everywhere, and people are spilling out onto a wide terrace, champagne glasses in their hands. “Where's this place?” I ask. “Sweetheart...” Eric gives a disconcerted laugh. “This is our home.” “Our home? But it's massive! Look at it!” “It's the penthouse.” He nods. “It's a nice size.” A “nice size”? It's like a football field. My little Balham flat would probably fit on one of those rugs. 76 “And who's that?” I point at a pretty girl in a baby-​pink strapless dress who's whispering in my ear. “That's Rosalie. Your best friend.”