He came in late, and ate his dinner alone downstairs while the children were watching something on TV before bed. I couldn't talk to him while the children were there, so I hovered in the doorframe watching his mobile face as he spooned the vegetable soup I found in the cupboard and hotted up in the microwave into his mouth, evidently preoccupied but enjoying his food. He scarcely looked at me.
He sent the children off to bed as soon as their programme finished, and I watched him load the dishwasher.
"Are you coming up to bed now?" he asked me.
"Yes," I replied.
I was quicker than him, and lay in bed while he shaved in the bathroom, staring up at the white ceiling and thinking little nothings.
"Don't turn the light off," I murmured as he emerged. "I need to talk to you about something."
He came and slipped his legs under the covers, smiling at me from a sitting position, his shoulders turned to face me.
"You look more alive than you have for years," he commented. "Your eyes are much brighter. Well, go on."
I blinked back tears which somehow seemed to be welling. It had been a long day.
"I've forgotten everything from the pastten years, Eric. And I can't remember much from before, either. Can you tell me everything?"
I had said it, and I closed my eyes and let the tears come, rolling down my cheeks and wetting the pillow. Eric said nothing for several minutes.
"You have been...preoccupied since we were married," he said slowly. "I wondered if you were happy. But I got used to it. What do you mean, forgotten?"
"Forgotten," I sobbed. "I didn't know your name. I scarcely knew my name. I don't know anything. I didn't know that my cousin Errol was married and had three children. Who did he marry, Eric? Who is Isabelle?"
I couldn't keep myself from crying now, and it was getting worse. Eric touched my face with the back of his hand, but I cried even harder.
"Come, Lottie, my lark, don't cry. I'll tell you everything you want to know, anything you can't remember, but we'll wait till the morning. We're both tired, and you've had a hard day. Get some sleep."
"Just tell me about my sisters. Am I an aunt?"
"You're an aunt five times over, Lottie. All your sisters are happy and married. Now get to sleep."
"Oh, Eric!" I cried, flinging my arms around his neck and burying my face in his shoulder.
"Now, now." He kissed me, and I felt the seas of peace wash over me.
"It's like I woke up this morning having been asleep for ten years," I whispered, smiling now.
I fell asleep within sixty seconds.