For the second morning in succession, I awoke in an unfamiliar place, but this time, I knew exactly where I was. That is not to say I felt any happier about it than yesterday. Within minutes, the worry swamped me again, along with a feeling of dread about today.
At least I'd slept well, which I was not expecting to do. I was exhausted when Sophie and I reached her house yesterday afternoon. She wanted to take me straight to the local Accident and Emergency department, but after I begged and pleaded with her to let it wait until I'd had a night's sleep, she relented, though she didn't look too happy. I told her I was sure that this memory loss wasn't something immediately life-threatening, but she said that she'd feel responsible if the delay made anything worse. I almost relented, in case she was right, but I kept quiet. Then, as the day got later, we both started to feel that it was best to avoid the Casualty department on a Saturday night, and tomorrow it might be a little less busy anyway. Secretly, I think I was hoping that I'd wake up in the morning completely back to normal.
She also tried to persuade me to ring and speak to Henry, because he had given her the land-line number for his mother's house. She said he had sounded terribly concerned. Every time she broached the subject, I was filled with terror at the thought. I couldn't speak to Henry. I would have no idea what I would say, about all this. He was in possession of information about us which was all a total mystery to me. As far as I was concerned, there was no common ground, and I didn't want to put myself in that position. Sophie thought Henry would be the best person to confide in, but to me, he'd be the worst. Thankfully, she didn't press the matter. I was slightly on edge, though, the entire evening, just in case he decided to ring here. Somehow, though, I just knew that wouldn't happen.
We talked about a few things, though I avoided the subject of Henry, in case it got her back on the subject of ringing him, but I plucked up the courage to ask her about Steve. Well, as far as I remembered, he was my other half, not Henry.
''Well, after the wedding, we hardly saw him. He just stopped hanging round with us. The few times we saw him, he would make some stupid remark about wondering if you'd been abducted by aliens yet.'' She grinned at my puzzled expression.
''What an odd thing to say.'' I said.
''It seems he found out that the place you were living isn't far from Roswell.''
''Oh. Yes, that sounds like just the sort of thing he'd say, then.'' I was surprised that I didn't feel more annoyed. I didn't think I had any feelings for Steve. Then I realised that I probably hadn't for quite a long time. ''Do you know what he's doing now? I suppose you wouldn't, now you've moved away.''
''Well, actually... Ben and I went down there a few weeks back and met up with Danny and Julie. Remember them?'' I nodded. I'd seen them only recently when they'd announced their engagement. Or presumably they were married now. I shook my head. This was all so confusing.
Sophie gave me a sympathetic look and then continued. ''Anyway, we popped into the King's Arms,before we went for a meal. You know, that pub you used to go to with him?'' I remembered it, all right. It was where we went every single night, and I hated the place. Almost as much as I hated playing second fiddle to Steve's ignorant, beer-swillng, womanising, foul-mouthed mates.
''He was in there, on his own. I have to say, Clare, he looked dreadful. He's really gone to pot. He's about three stone heavier, and looked pretty much the worse for wear, even though it was only about seven o'clock in the evening. He looked like a down-and-out, and about twenty years older.''
I didn't know how to feel about this. I supposed I should have been sorry for him. What surprised me most was that I wasn't surprised. Steve was a good-looking guy, but he was a little too fond of the booze, and I'd teased him once, that he'd ruin his looks and his waistline if he carried on the way he was going. I only did that once though. He was in such a foul mood afterwards that I kept my mouth shut from then on. He was always very good at dishing out the criticism, but not so good at taking it. I wouldn't miss that.
Now, tucked up in Sophie's spare bedroom, in the early morning light, I allowed myself to wonder how my life with Henry contrasted with my relationship with Steve. Strangely, it didn't seem such an awful prospect now. I pictured Henry's sweet, sleeping face on the pink floral pillow, and a totally unexpected feeling of affection washed over me like a warm bath after a hard day at work. Images from yesterday morning flooded my mind. Henry sitting on the edge of the bed in that funny nightshirt. Henry tucking the duvet around me so tenderly. Was I starting to get used to the idea?
I must have dozed off, then, because the next thing I saw was Sophie, standing next to the bed, with a mug of tea in her hand.
''Hello, sleepyhead.'' she said, ruffling my hair. ''Must've been a nice dream!''
I sat up, and stretched, then took the mug off her. ''What?''
''You looked really happy, smiling all over your face, in your sleep. I almost didn't want to wake you.'' She giggled. A flash of the dream I'd been having came back to me and I put my hand to my mouth, and could feel a blush spreading up my cheeks. I hoped Sophie couldn't read my thoughts. I hadn't been dreaming about Steve, that's for sure.
''I hope you don't mind, Clare,'' she said, sitting on the edge of the bed, ''But I just phoned Jane. She's a friend of mine from work, and she's married to a doctor at the surgery I go to. Not my doctor, but a partner of his. He's a smashing guy – Phil - and she called him to the phone to have a word with me. He didn't seem at all put out at talking shop on a Sunday morning. Apparently he's always up with the lark, weekend or not.''
I felt the butterflies starting in my stomach again. I'd been trying not to think about having to find out what was ''wrong'' with me. I was grateful that she'd spoken to someone, though. I'd been dreading turning up at the hospital and having to go over it all.
''So, we had a bit of a chat, and I told him about your... predicament. He's happy to pop round here and see you, as a temporary patient, then refer to you to the appropriate department at the hospital, so that you don't have to wait around in Casualty.''
I put my tea down and gave her a hug. ''You're such a good mate, Sophie. You think of everything.'' I still felt very fluttery, but Sophie's news was a big weight off my mind. ''Did he... did he say what he thought it might be?''
''Well, I asked, but he refused to be drawn. He did tell me to tell you not to worry though. I told him I thought I'd be wasting my breath.'' She held my hand. ''Oh, Clare, I was thinking about you most of the night. I can't begin to imagine how frightening this is for you.''
My eyes filled with tears again, and she handed me a bunch of tissues, then sat with her arm round me.
''Better get dressed, lovey.'' she said, looking at her watch, a few minutes later. ''Doctor Phil should be here in about half an hour.'' She picked up my empty mug and left the bedroom.
I grabbed my clothes and went to the door, then, remembering the box I'd bought in the pharmacy yesterday, opened the drawer in the bedside cabinet and took it out.
In the bathroom, I looked at the little wand, then back at the instruction sheet, and then back to the wand again . Should I be happy, relieved, disappointed? The one thing I felt was confused. I wasn't pregnant.