Remember Me?(3)


by Sophie Kinsella

Is that a voice? No, I have to sleep... How long have I been awake? Five minutes? Half an hour, maybe? It's kind of hard to tell. What day is it, anyway? For a moment I just lie still. My head is pounding 12 with a rhythmic pain, like some sort of massive concretebreaker. I'm dry-​throated and aching all over. My skin feels like sandpaper. Where was I last night? What's wrong with my brain? It's like a fog has descended over everything. I'm never drinking again. I must have alcohol poisoning or something. I'm trying to remember last night as hard as I ' canbut all that's coming into my head is stupid stuff. Old memories and images from the past, flashing by in random order, like some kind of iPod shuffle in my brain. Sunflowers waving against a blue sky... Amy as a newborn baby, looking like a little pink sausage in a blanket...

A plate of salty french fries on a wooden pub table; hot sunshine on my neck; my dad sitting opposite in a Panama hat, blowing out cigar smoke and telling me, “Eat up, sweetheart”...

The sack race at school. Oh God, not this memory again. I try to block it out, but too late, it's rushing in I'm seven years old, it's sports day, and I'm winning by miles, but it feels so uncomfortable to be out front that I stop and wait for all my friends. They catch upthen somehow in the melee I trip and wind up coming in last. I can still feel the humiliation, hear the laughter, feel the dust in my throat, the taste of bananas...

Hang on. Somehow I force my brain to hold steady for a moment. Bananas. Through the fog another memory is glimmering. I'm desperately trying to retrieve it, to reach for i t . ..

Yes. Got it. Banana cocktails. We were drinking cocktails at some club. That's all I can remember. Bloody banana cocktails. What on earth did they put in them? I can't even open my eyes. They feel heavy and stuck down, like that time I used false eyelashes with dodgy glue from the market, then tottered into the bathroom the next morning to find one eye glued shut with what looked like a dead spider on top of it. Really attractive, Lexi. Cautiously, I move a hand up to my chest and hear a rustle of sheets. They don't sound like the ones at home. And there's a weird lemony smell in the air, and I'm wearing some soft cottony T-​shirt thing I don't recognize. Where am I? What on earth Hey. I didn't score, did I? Oh wow. Was I unfaithful to Loser Dave? Am I wearing some hot guy's oversize T-​shirt that I borrowed to sleep in after we had passionate sex all night and that's why I feel so bruised and sore No, I've never been unfaithful in my life. I must have stayed overnight with one of the girls or something. Maybe I'll get up, have a shower...

With a huge effort I wrench my eyes open and incline my head a few inches. Shit. What the hell I'm lying in a dim room, on a metal bed. There's a panel of buttons to my right, a bunch of flowers on the nightstand. With an inward gulp I see an IV drip in my left hand, attached to a bag of fluid.

This is unreal. I'm in hospital. What's going on? What happened? I mentally prod my brain, but it's a big, stupid, empty balloon. I need a strong cup of coffee. I try peering around the room for cluesbut my eyes don't want to peer. They don't 14 want information, they want eyedrops and three aspirin. Feebly I flop back onto the pillows, close my eyes, and wait a few moments. Come on. I have to be able to remember what happened. I can't have been that drunk... can I? I'm holding on to my one fragment of memory like it's an island in the ocean. Banana cocktails... banana cocktails . . . think hard... think... Destiny's Child. Yes! A few more memories are coming back to me now. Slowly, slowly, in patches. Nachos with cheese. Those crummy bar stools with the vinyl all split. I was out with the girls from work. At that dodgy club with the pink neon ceiling i n . . . somewhere. I can remember nursing my cocktail, totally miserable. Why was I so down? What had happened Bonuses. Of course. A familiar cold disappointment clenches my stomach. And Loser Dave never showed up. Double whammy. But none of that explains why I'm in hospital. I screw up my face tight, trying to focus as hard as I can. I remember dancing like a maniac to Kylie and singing “We Are Family” to the karaoke machine, all four of us, arm in arm. I can vaguely remember tottering out to get a cab. But beyond that... nothing. Total blanko. This is weird. I'll text Fi and ask her what happened. I reach toward the nightstandthen realize there's no phone there. Nor on the chair, or the chest of drawers. Where's my phone? Where's all my stuff gone? Oh God. Was I mugged? That has to be it. Some teenager in a hoodie clonked me over the head and I fell down in the street, and they must have called an ambulance and An even more horrendous thought grips me. What underwear was I wearing?

I can't help giving a small moan. This could be seriously bad. This could be the scaggy gray knickers and bra I only put on when the hamper is full. Or that faded lemon thong with the fraying edge and cartoon of Snoopy. It wouldn't have been anything posh. I mean, you wouldn't for Loser Daveit'd be a waste. Wincing, I swivel my head from side to sidebut I can't see any clothes or anything. The doctors must have incinerated them in the special Hospital Incinerator for Scaggy Underwear. And I still have no idea what I'm doing here. My throat's feeling really scratchy and I could die for a nice cool glass of orange juice. Now that I think of it, where are all the doctors and nurses? What if I were dying? “Hello?” I call out feebly. My voice sounds like someone dragging a grater over a wooden floor. I wait for a response, but there's silence. I'm sure no one can hear me through that thick door. Then it occurs to me to press a button on the little panel. I select the one that looks like a person, and a few moments later the door opens. It worked! A gray-​haired nurse in a dark blue uniform enters and smiles at me. “Hello, Lexi!” she says. “Feeling all right?” “Um, okay, thanks. Thirsty. And my head hurts.” “I'll fetch you a painkiller.” She brings me a plastic cup full of water and helps me up. “Drink this.” “Thanks,” I say after gulping the water. “So...I'm guessing I'm in hospital? Or, like, a really high-​tech spa?” The nurse smiles. “Sorry. Hospital. You don't remember how you got here?“ ”No.“ I shake my head. ”I'm a bit hazy, to be honest.“ ”That's because you had quite a bump on the head. Do you remember anything about your accident?“ Accident... accident... And suddenly, in a rush, it all 16 comes back. Of course. Running for the taxi, the paving stones wet with rain, slipping on my stupid cheap boots... Jeez Louise. I must have really bashed my head. ”Yeah. I think so.“ I nod. ”Kind of. So...what's the time?“ ”It's eight o'clock at night.“ Eight o'clock? Wow. I've been out of it for a whole day? ”I'm Maureen.“ She takes the cup from me. ”You were only transferred to this room a few hours ago. You know, we've already had several conversations.“ ”Really?“ I say, surprised. ”What did I say?“ ”You were a little slurred, but you kept asking if something was 'baggy.'“ She frowns, looking perplexed. ”Or 'scaggy'?“ Great. Not only do I wear scaggy underwear, I talk about it to strangers. ”Scaggy?“ I try to appear baffled. ”I've no idea what I meant.“ ”Well, you seem fully coherent now.“ Maureen plumps up my pillow. ”Is there anything else I can get you?“ ”I'd love some orange juice, if there is any. And I can't see my phone anywhere, or my bag.“ ”All your valuables will have been put somewhere safe. I'll just check.” She heads out and I look around the silent room, still dazed. I feel like I've put together only a tiny corner of the jigsaw puzzle. I still don't know which hospital I'm i n . . . how I got here... Has anyone told my family? And there's something else nagging at me like an undertow... I had been anxious to get home. Yes. That's right. I kept saying I needed to get home, because I had an early start the next day. Because Oh no. Oh fuck.