Remember Me?(4)

by Sophie Kinsella

My dad's funeral. It was the next day, eleven o'clock. Which means... Did I miss it? Instinctively I try to get out of bedbut even sitting up makes my head lurch. At last, reluctantly, I lie back down. If I've missed it, I've missed it. Nothing I can do about it now.

It's not like I really knew my dad well. He was never around that much; in fact, he felt more like an uncle. The kind of jokey, roguish uncle who brings you sweets at Christmas and smells of drink and cigarettes. Nor was it a massive shock him dying. He was having some big heart bypass operation, and everyone knew there was a 50-50 risk. But still, I should have been there today, along with Mum and Amy. I mean, Amy's only twelve and a timid little twelve at that. I suddenly have a vision of her sitting in the crematorium next to Mum, all grave under her Shetland pony fringe, clutching her raggedy old Blue Lion. She's not ready to see her dad's coffin, not without her big sister to hold her hand. As I lie there, imagining her trying to look brave and grown up, I suddenly feel a tear rolling down my face. It's the day of my dad's funeral, and here I am in hospital with a headache and probably a broken leg or something. And my boyfriend stood me up last night. And no one's come to visit me, I suddenly realize. Where's all my anxious friends and family, sitting around the bed and holding my hand? Well, I suppose Mum's been at the funeral with Amy. And Loser Dave can sod off. But Fi and the otherswhere are they? When I think how we all went to visit Debs when 18 she had her ingrown toenail removed. We all practically camped on the floor, and brought her Starbucks and magazines, and treated her to a pedicure when it was healed. Just for a toenail. Whereas I've been unconscious, with an IV drip and everything. But obviously no one cares. Great. Just bloody... brilliant. Another fat tear trickles down my face, just as the door opens and Maureen comes in again. She's holding a tray and a plastic bag with Lexi Smart written on it in thick marker. “Oh dear!” she says as she sees me wiping my eyes. “Is the pain very bad?” She hands me a tablet and a little cup of water. “This should help.”

“Thanks very much.” I gulp down the pill. “But it's not that. It's my life.” I spread my arms hopelessly. “It's total rubbish, from start to finish.” “Of course it's not,” Maureen says reassuringly. “Things might look bad”

“Believe me, they are bad.” “I'm sure” “My so-​called career is going nowhere, and my boyfriend stood me up last night, and I haven't got any money. And my sink keeps leaking rancid brown water into the flat below,” I add, remembering with a shudder. “I'll probably get sued by my neighbors. And my dad just died.” There's silence. Maureen looks flummoxed. “Well, that does all sound rather...tricky,” she says at last. “But I expect things will soon turn around for the better.” “That's what my friend Fi said!” I suddenly have a memory of Fi's eyes shining in the rain. “And look, I end up in hospital!“ I make a despairing gesture at myself. ”How is this turning around for the better?“ ”I'm... not sure, dear.“ Maureen's eyes are darting helplessly from side to side. ”Every time I think everything's crap... it just gets even crapper!“ I blow my nose and heave a massive sigh. ”Wouldn't it be great if just once, just one time, life fell magically into place?“ ”Well, we can all hope, can't we?” Maureen gives me a sympathetic smile and holds out her hand for the cup. I pass it backand as I do so, I suddenly notice my nails. Bloody hell. What on earth My nails have always been bitten-​down stumps that I try to hide. But these look amazing. All neat and varnished pale pink... and long. I blink at them in astonishment, trying to work out what's happened. Did we go for a latenight manicure last night or something and I've forgotten? Did I get acrylics? They must have some brilliant new technique, because I can't see the join or anything. “Your handbag's in here, by the way,” Maureen adds, putting the plastic bag on my bed. “I'll just go and get you that juice.” “Thanks.” I look at the plastic bag in surprise. “And thanks for the bag. I thought it had been nicked.” That's something good, anyway, to have got my bag back. With any luck my phone will still be charged up and I can send a few texts As Maureen opens the door to leave, I reach into the shopping bagand pull out a smart Louis Vuitton tote with calfskin handles, all glossy and expensive-​looking. Oh, great. I sigh in disappointment. This isn't my bag. They've got me mixed up with someone else. Like I, Lexi Smart, would possess a Louis Vuitton bag. 20 “Excuse me, this bag isn't mine,” I call out, but the door has already closed. I gaze at the Louis Vuitton wistfully for a while, wondering who it belongs to. Some rich girl down the corridor, must be. At last I drop it onto the floor, flop back on my pillows, and close my eyes.

Chapter 2

I wake up to find chinks of morning light edging underneath the drawn curtains. A glass of orange juice is on the nightstand and Maureen is bustling about in the corner of the room. The IV drip has magically disappeared, and I feel a lot more normal.

“Hi, Maureen,” I say, my voice scratchy. “What time is it?” She turns around, her eyebrows raised. “You remember me?” “Of course,” I say in surprise. “We met last night. We talked.” “Excellent! That shows you've come out of posttraumatic amnesia. Don't look alarmed!” she adds, smiling. “It's a normal stage of confusion after a head injury.” Instinctively I put my hand up to my head and feel a dressing. Wow. I must really have whacked it on those steps. “You're doing well.” She pats my shoulder. “I'll get you some fresh orange juice.” There's a knock at the door. It opens and a tall, 22 slim woman in her fifties comes in. She has blue eyes, high cheekbones, and wavy, graying blond hair in straggly layers. She's wearing a red quilted waistcoat over a long printed dress and an amber necklace, and she's holding a paper bag. It's Mum. I mean, I'm ninety-​nine percent certain it is. I don't know why I'm even hesitating.

“The heating in this place!” she exclaims in her familiar thin, little-​girl voice. Okay, it's definitely Mum. “I feel quite faint!” She fans herself. “And I had such a stressful journey....” She glances toward the bed almost as an afterthought, and says to Maureen, “How is she?” Maureen smiles. “Lexi's much better today. Far less confused than she was yesterday.”