Before I Go to Sleep

  ‘But I remembered Adam’s funeral,’ I said. ‘His coffin …’

  Again the sad smile. ‘Your imagination …’

  ‘But I saw pictures,’ I said. ‘That man’ – I found it impossible to say Mike’s name – ‘he showed me pictures of me and him together, of us getting married. I found a picture of a gravestone. It had Adam’s name—’

  ‘He must have faked them,’ he said.

  ‘Faked them?’

  ‘Yes. On a computer. It’s really quite easy to mock up photos these days. He must have guessed you were suspecting the truth and left them where he knew you’d find them. It’s quite likely that some of the photos you thought were of the two of you were also faked.’

  I thought of the times I had written that Mike was in his office. Working. Is that what he’d been doing? How thoroughly he had betrayed me.

  ‘Are you OK?’ said Dr Nash.

  I smiled. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I think so.’ I looked at him, and realized I could picture him in a different suit, with his hair cut much shorter.

  ‘I can remember things,’ I said.

  His expression did not change. ‘What things?’ he said.

  ‘I remember you with a different haircut,’ I said. ‘And I recognized Ben, too. And Adam and Claire, in the ambulance. And I can remember seeing her the other day. We went to the café at Alexandra Palace. We had coffee. She has a son called Toby.’

  His eyes were sad.

  ‘Have you read your journal today?’ he said.

  ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘But don’t you see? I can remember things that I didn’t write down. I can remember the earrings that she was wearing. They’re the same ones she has on now. I asked her. She said I was right. And I can remember that Toby was wearing a blue parka, and he had cartoons on his socks, and I remember he was upset because he wanted apple juice and they only had orange or blackcurrant. Don’t you see? I didn’t write those things down. I can remember them.’

  He looked pleased, then, though still cautious.

  ‘Dr Paxton did say that he could find no obvious organic cause for your amnesia. That it seemed likely that it was at least partly caused by the emotional trauma of what had happened to you, as well as the physical. I suppose it’s possible that another trauma might reverse that, at least to some degree.’

  I leapt on what he was suggesting. ‘So I might be cured?’ I said.

  He looked at me intently. I had the feeling he was weighing up what to say, how much of the truth I could stand.

  ‘I have to say it’s unlikely,’ he said. ‘There’s been a degree of improvement over the last few weeks, but nothing like a complete return of memory. But it is possible.’

  I felt a rush of joy. ‘Doesn’t the fact that I remember what happened a week ago mean that I can form new memories again? And keep them?’

  He spoke hesitantly. ‘It would suggest that, yes. But, Christine, I want you to be prepared for the fact that the effect may well be temporary. We won’t know until tomorrow.’

  ‘When I wake up?’

  ‘Yes. It’s entirely possible that after you sleep tonight all the memories you have from today will be gone. All the new ones, and all the old ones.’

  ‘It might be exactly the same as when I woke up this morning?’

  ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It might.’

  That I might wake up and have forgotten Adam and Ben seemed too much to contemplate. It felt like it would be a living death.

  ‘But—’ I began.

  ‘Keep your journal, Christine,’ he said. ‘You still have it?’

  I shook my head. ‘He burned it. That’s what caused the fire.’

  Dr Nash looked disappointed. ‘That’s a shame,’ he said. ‘But it doesn’t really matter. Christine, you’ll be fine. You can begin another. The people who love you have come back to you.’

  ‘But I want to have come back to them, too,’ I said. ‘I want to have come back to them.’

  We talked for a little while longer, but he was keen to leave me with my family. I know he was only trying to prepare me for the worst – for the possibility that I will wake up tomorrow with no idea where I am, or who this man sitting next to me is, or who the person is who is claiming to be my son – but I have to believe that he is wrong. That my memory is back. I have to believe that.

  I look at my sleeping husband, silhouetted in the dim room. I remember us meeting, that night of the party, the night I watched the fireworks with Claire on the roof. I remember him asking me to marry him, on holiday in Verona, and the rush of excitement I’d felt as I said yes. And our wedding too, our marriage, our life. I remember it all. I smile.

  ‘I love you,’ I whisper, and I close my eyes, and I sleep.


  This book was inspired in part by the lives of several amnesiac patients, most notably Henry Gustav Molaison and Clive Wearing, whose story has been told by his wife Deborah Wearing in her book Forever Today – A Memoir of Love and Amnesia.

  However, events in Before I Go to Sleep are entirely fictitious.

  About the Author

  S J Watson was born in the Midlands, lives in London and worked in the NHS for a number of years.

  In 2009 Watson was accepted into the first Faber Academy ‘Writing a Novel’ course, a programme that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process. Before I Go To Sleep is the result.

  Now sold in over 30 languages around the world, Before I Go To Sleep has also been acquired for film by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, with Rowan Joffe to direct.

  Review and discuss Before I Go To Sleep on Facebook,

  For more information on S J Watson, including reading group discussion topics, please visit


  61–63 Uxbridge Road, London W5 5SA

  A Random House Group Company

  First published in Great Britain

  in 2011 by Doubleday

  an imprint of Transworld Publishers

  Copyright © Lola Communications 2011

  S J Watson has asserted the right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

  This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

  A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

  Version 1.0 Epub ISBN 9781409045113

  ISBNs 9780857520173 (cased)

  9780857520180 (tpb)

  This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorized distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

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