Remember Me?(9)

by Sophie Kinsella

“I've lost my memory. I've lost a whole chunk of my life. I'm really... freaked out.” “Oh. Yes, the nurse mentioned it.” Her gaze briefly meets mine, then flicks away again. Mum's not the greatest at eye contact; she never has been. I used to get quite frustrated by it when I was younger, but now I just see it as one of those Mum things. Like the way she won't learn the names of TV programs properly, even after you've told her five hundred times it's not The Simpsons Family. Now she's sitting down and peeling off her waistcoat. “I know exactly how you feel,” she begins. “My memory gets worse every day. In fact, the other day” “Mum...” I inhale deeply, trying to stay calm. “You don't know how I feel. This isn't like forgetting where you put something. I've lost three years of my life! I don't know anything about myself in 2 0 0 7 . I don't look the same, none of my things are the same, and I found these rings which apparently belong to me, and I just have to know something...” My voice is jumping about with apprehension. “Mum... am I really married?” “Of course you're married!” Mum appears surprised that I need to ask. “Eric will be here any minute. I told you that earlier.“ ”Eric's my husband?“ I stare at her. ”I thought Eric was a dog.“ ”A dog?“ Mum raises her eyebrows. ”Goodness, darling! You did get a bump on the head!“ Eric. I'm rolling the name around my head experimentally. My husband, Eric. It means nothing to me. It's not a name I feel either way about. 7 love you, Eric. With my body I thee worship, Eric. 46 I wait for some sort of reaction in my body. Surely I should respond? Surely all my love cells should be waking up? But I feel totally blank and nothing-​y. ”He had a very important meeting this morning. But otherwise he's been here with you night and day.“ ”Right.“ I digest this. ”So... so what's he like?“ ”He's very nice,“ says Mum, as though she's talking about a sponge cake. ”Is h e . . . ” I stop. I can't ask if he's good-​looking. That would be really shallow. And what if she avoids the question and says he has a wonderful sense of humor? What if he's obese? Oh God. What if I got to know his beautiful inner soul as we exchanged messages over the Internet, only now I've forgotten all about that and I'll have to pretend his looks don't matter to me? We lapse into silence and I find myself eyeing up Mum's dressLaura Ashley, circa 1975. Frills come in and out of fashion, but somehow she doesn't notice. She still wears the same clothes she wore when she first met my dad, and the same long flicky hair, the same frosted lipstick. It's like she thinks she's still in her twenties. Not that I would ever mention this to her. We've never been into cozy mother-​daughter chats. I once tried to confide in her, when I split up with my first boyfriend. Big mistake. She didn't sympathize, or hug me, or even really listen. Instead she got all pink and defensive and sharp with me, as if I was deliberately trying to wound her by talking about relationships. I felt like I was negotiating a land-​mine site, treading on sensitive bits of her life I didn't even realize existed.

So I gave up and called Fi instead. 47 “Did you manage to order those sofa covers for me, Lexi?” Mum interrupts my thoughts. “Off the Internet,” she adds at my blank look. “You were going to do it last week.” Did she listen to anything I said? “Mum, I don't know,” I say, slowly and clearly. “I don't remember anything about the last three years.” “Sorry, darling.” Mum hits her head. “I'm being stupid.” “I don't know what I was doing last week, or last year... or even who my own husband is.” I spread my arms. “To be honest, it's pretty scary.” “Of course. Absolutely.” Mum is nodding, a distant look in her eyes, as though she's processing my words. “The thing is, darling, I don't remember the name of the Web site. So if you did happen to recall” “I'll let you know, okay?” I can't help snapping. “If my memory returns, the first thing I'll do is call you about your sofa covers. Jesus!” “There's no need to raise your voice, Lexi!” she says, opening her eyes wide. Okay. So in 2007 Mum still officially drives me up the wall. Surely I'm supposed to have grown out of being irritated by my mother? Automatically I start picking at my thumbnail. Then I stop. Twenty-​eight-​year-​old Lexi doesn't shred her nails. “So, what does he do?” I return to the subject of my socalled husband. I still can't really believe he's real. “Who, Eric?” “Yes! Of course Eric!” “He sells property,” Mum says, as though I ought to know. “He's rather good at it, actually.” I've married a real-​estate agent called Eric. How? 48 Why?

“Do we live in my flat?” “Your flat?” Mum looks bemused. “Darling, you sold your flat a long time ago. You have a marital home now!” “I sold it?” I feel a pang. “But I've only just bought it!” I love my flat. It's in Balham and is tiny but cozy, with bluepainted window frames which I did myself, and a lovely squashy velvet sofa, and piles of colorful cushions everywhere, and fairy lights around the mirror. Fi and Carolyn helped me move in two months ago, and we spray-​painted the bathroom silver, and then spray-​painted our jeans silver too. And now it's all gone. I live in a marital home. With my marital husband. For the millionth time I look at the wedding ring and diamond solitaire. Then I automatically shoot a glance at Mum's hand. She still wears Dad's ring, despite the way he's behaved toward her over the years Dad. Dad's funeral. It's like a hand has gripped hold of my stomach, tight. “Mum...” I venture cautiously. “I'm really sorry I missed Dad's funeral. Did i t . . . you know, go all right?” “You didn't miss it, darling.” She peers at me as though I'm crazy. “You were there.” “Oh.” I stare at her, confused. “Right. Of course. I just don't remember anything about it.” Heaving a massive sigh, I lean back on my pillows. I don't remember my own wedding and I don't remember my dad's funeral. Two of the most important events in my life, and I feel like I've missed out on them. “So, how was it?” “Oh, it all went off as well as these things ever d o . . .” Mum's looking twitchy, the way she always is when the subject of Dad comes up. “Were many people there?”