The stunning new novel from the voice that brought you the word-of-mouth bestseller The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and the highly acclaimed Touch
They said, when they died, that all they could hear was the screaming.
I run ink across the page, watch the world through the windows of the train, grey clouds over Scotland, and though the screaming continues still, it does not bother me. Not any more.
I write this to be remembered. Will you judge me, in reading this? Who are you? Liar, cheat, lover, thief, husband, wife, mother, daughter, friend, enemy, policeman, doctor, teacher, child, killer, priest? I find myself almost more excited by you than I am by myself, whoever you might be.
Whoever you are: these are my words.
This is my truth.
Listen, and remember me.
The world began to forget me when I was sixteen years old.
A slow declining, one piece at a time.
My dad, forgetting to drive me to school.
My mum, setting the table for three, not four. “Oh,” she said, when I walked in. “I must have thought you were out.”
A teacher, Miss Tomas, the only one in the school who cared, full of faith in her pupils, hope for their futures, forgets to chase the missing homework, to ask the questions, to listen to the answers, until, finally, I didn’t bother to put up my hand.
Friends, five who were the heart of my life, who I always sat with, and who one day sat at another table, not dramatically, not with “fuck you” flair, but because they looked straight through me and saw a stranger.
A disassociation between name and face as the register is called. My name is remembered, but the link is broken; what is Hope Arden? A scrawl of ink without a past; no more. First you forget my face, then my voice, and at last, slowly, you forget my consequences. I slapped Alan, my best mate, the day he forgot me. He ran from the room, horrified, and I ran after him, red with guilt. By the time I found him, he was sitting in the corridor of the science block, cheek flushed, rubbing at his face.
“You okay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Face hurts a bit.”
“It’s okay; not like you did nothing.”
He looked at me like a stranger, but there were tears in his eyes when he spoke. What did he remember then? Not me, not Hope Arden, the girl he’d grown up with. Not my palm across his face, not my screaming until the spit flew, remember me, remember me. His pain was diminishing, taking with it memory. He experienced sorrow, rage, fear, these emotions glimmered in his eyes, but where were they from? He no longer knew, and the memory of me crumbled like sand castles before the sea.