Remember Me?(6)

by Sophie Kinsella

“But it says here” 27 “Look.” I cut him off as politely as I can. “I'll tell you how much twenty-​five-​year-​old sales associates at Deller Carpets earn, okay? And you tell me if I can afford a Mercedes convertible.” Dr. Harman opens his mouth to answerbut is interrupted by one of the trainees, Diana, who taps his shoulder. She scribbles something on my notes and Dr. Harman's mouth snaps open again in shock. His eyes meet the trainee's; she raises her eyebrows, glances at me, then points at the paper again. They look like a pair of mime-​school rejects. Now Dr. Harman is coming closer and gazing intently at me with a grave expression. My stomach starts flipflopping. I've seen ER, I know what that expression means. Lexi, we did a scan and we saw something we weren't expecting to find. It could be nothing. Except it's never nothing, is it? Otherwise why would you be on the show? “Is something really wrong with me?” I say almost aggressively, trying to suppress the sudden wobble of terror in my voice. “Just tell me, okay?” My mind is already ripping through the possibilities. Cancer. Hole in the heart. Lose a leg. Maybe I've already lost a legthey just didn't want to tell me. Surreptitiously I feel through the blankets. “Lexi, I want to ask you another question.” Dr. Harman's voice is gentler. “Can you tell me what year it is?” “What year it is?” I stare at him, thrown. “Don't be alarmed,” he says reassuringly. “Just tell me what year you think it is. It's one of our standard checks.” I look from face to face. I can tell they're playing some kind of trick on me, but I can't work out what. “It's 2004,” I say at last. 28 There's a weird stillness in the room, as if no one wants to breathe. “Okay.” Dr. Harman sits down on the bed. “Lexi, today is May 6,2007.” His face is serious. All the others appear serious too. For an instant a frightening chink seems to open up in my brainbut then, with a rush of relief, I get it. This is a windup! “Ha-​ha.” I roll my eyes. “Very funny. Did Fi put you up to this? Gr Carolyn?”

“I don't know anyone called Fi or Carolyn,” Dr. Harman replies without breaking his gaze. “And I'm not joking.” “He's serious, Lexi,” one of the trainees chimes in. “We're in 2007.”

“But... that's the future” I say stupidly. “Are you saying they've invented time machines?” I force a little laugh, but no one else joins in. “Lexi, this is bound to be a shock,” Maureen says kindly, putting a hand on my shoulder. “But it's true. It's May 2007.”

I feel as if the two sides of my brain aren't connecting or something. I can hear what they're saying, but it's just ludicrous. Yesterday it was 2004. How can we have jumped three years? “Look, it can't be 2007,” I say at last, trying not to give away how rattled I am. “It's 2004. I'm not stupid” “Don't get upset,” Dr. Harman says, sending warning glances to the others. “Let's take this slowly. Why don't you tell us what you last remember?” “Okay, well...” I rub my face. "The last thing I remember is going out with some friends from work last night. Friday night. We went clubbing... and then we were trying to get a taxi in the rain and I slipped on the steps and fell. And I woke up in hospital. That was February 20, 2004.“ My voice is trembling. ”I know the date exactly, because it was my dad's funeral the next day! I missed it, because I'm stuck here!“ ”Lexi, all of that happened more than three years ago,“ Maureen says softly. ”You're remembering the wrong accident.“ She seems so sure. They all seem so sure. Panic is rising inside me as I look at their faces. It's 2 0 0 4 , I know it is. It feels like 2004. ”What else do you remember?“ asks Dr. Harman. ”Working back from that night.“ ”I don't know,“ I say defensively. ”Being at work...

moving into my flat... everything!“ ”Is your memory foggy at all?“ ”A...a bit,“ I admit reluctantly as the door opens. The trainee named Diana left the room a moment ago and now she's back, holding a copy of the Daily Mail. She approaches the bed and glances at Harman. ”Should I?“ ”Yes.“ He nods. ”That's a good idea.“ ”Look, Lexi.“ She points to the dateline at the top. ”This is today's paper.“ I feel a massive jolt of shock as I read the date: May 6, 2007. But I mean... that's just words printed on paperit doesn't prove anything. I look farther down the page, at a photograph of Tony Blair. ”God, he's aged!“ I exclaim before I can stop myself. Just like Mum flashes through my mind, and a sudden coldness trickles down my spine. But... that doesn't prove anything either. Maybe the light was just unflattering. Hands trembling, I turn the page. There's total silence in 30 the room; everyone is watching me, agog. My gaze travels uncertainly over a few headlinesInterest rates to rise... Queen on States visitthen is drawn by a bookshop ad. Half price on all fantasy, including Harry Potter and the Half-​Blood Prince. Okay. Now my skin is really prickling. I've read all the Harry Potter books, all five of them. I don't remember any half-​blood prince. ”What's this?“ Trying to sound casual, I point at the ad. ”What's Harry Potter and the Half-​Blood Prince?“ ”That's the latest book,“ Garth, the other trainee, says. ”It came out ages ago.“ I can't help gasping. ”There's a sixth Harry Potter?“ ”There's a seventh out soon!“ Diana steps forward eagerly. ”And guess what happens at the end of book six“ ”Shh!“ exclaims Nicole, the other nurse. ”Don't tell her!" They continue bickering, but I don't hear them anymore. I stare at the newspaper print until it jumps about in front of my eyes. That's why nothing made sense. It's not Mum who's confusedit's me. “So I've been lying here in a coma”I swallow hard “for three years?” I can't believe it. I've been Coma Girl. Everyone's been waiting for me to wake up for three whole years. The world's been going on without me. My family and friends have probably made me tapes, kept vigils, sung songs, and everything But Dr. Harman is shaking his head. “No, that's not it. Lexi, you were only admitted five days ago.” What?

Enough. I can't cope with this anymore. I came into hospital five days ago in 2004but now magically it's 2007? Where are we, bloody Narnia? “I don't understand!” I say helplessly, thrusting the paper aside. “Am I hallucinating? Have I gone crazy?” “No!” Dr. Harman says emphatically. “Lexi, I think you're suffering from what we call retrograde amnesia. It's a condition which normally arises following head injuries, but it seems that yours might be quite lengthy.” He carries on speaking, but his words aren't fixing properly in my brain. As I look around at the staff, I suddenly feel suspicion. They look fake. These aren't real medical professionals, are they? Is this a real hospital? “Have you stolen my kidney?” My voice erupts in a panicky growl. “What have you done to me? You can't keep me here. I'm calling the police ” I try to struggle out of bed. “Lexi.” Nicole holds me by the shoulders. “No one's trying to hurt you. Dr. Harman's speaking the truth. You've lost your memory and you're confused.” “It's natural for you to panic, to believe that there's some kind of conspiracy. But we're telling you the truth.” Dr. Harman looks me firmly in the eyes. “You've forgotten a chunk of your life, Lexi. You've forgotten. That's all.” I want to cry. I can't tell if they're lying, if this is all some massive trick, whether I should trust them or make a run for it My head's whirling with confusion Then suddenly I freeze. My hospital-​gown sleeve got hitched up as I was struggling and I've just spotted a small, distinctive V-​shaped scar near my elbow. A scar I've never seen before. A scar I don't recognize. It's not new, either. It must be months old. 32 “Lexi, are you all right?” asks Dr. Harman. I can't reply. My eyes are riveted on the unfamiliar scar. Heart thumping, I slowly move my gaze down to my hands. These nails aren't acrylics, are they? Acrylics aren't that good. These are my real, genuine nails. And there's no way they could have grown this long in five days. I feel like I've swum out of the shallows and found myself in mile-​deep gray water. “You're saying”I clear my hoarse throat“I've lost three years of my memory.” “Well, it's difficult to be precise, but that's what it looks like at the moment.” Dr. Harman nods. “Can I see the newspaper again, please?” My hands are trembling as I take it from Diana. I turn over the pages and every single one has the same dateline. May 6,2007. May 6, 2007. It really is the year 2007. Which means I must b e . . . Oh my God. I'm twenty-​eight. I'm old.