Элисон Скотч: The Song Remains the Same

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Элисон Скотч The Song Remains the Same
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    The Song Remains the Same
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    Berkley G. P. Putnam’s Sons
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    Современная проза / на английском языке
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The Song Remains the Same: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . . It isn't long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.

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The Song Remains the Same

Allison Winn Scotch

 For Cam and Amelia,

 who fill my life with song.

Never forget me, because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.


The Best of Nell Slattery

1 “Have a Little Faith in Me”—Joe Cocker

2 “Sweet Child o’ Mine”—Guns N’ Roses

3 “Running on Empty”—Jackson Browne

4 “Every Breath You Take”—The Police

5 “Eleanor Rigby”—The Beatles

6 “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” —The Rolling Stones

7 “Don’t Stop Believing”—Journey

8 “There’s a Light That Never Goes Out” —The Smiths

9 “Let the River Run”—Carly Simon

10 “Into the Mystic”—Van Morrison

11 “Ramble On”—Led Zeppelin

12 “Forever Young”—Bob Dylan


Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

My eyelids feel like anchors. There is a drill pounding into the back of my skull. My lungs feel as if someone has dumped a sandbox inside of them, then turned on a blender. I inhale and my ribs bark in reply.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

My alarm clock is going off. It must be that my alarm clock is going off. I force one eye open, and it just barely complies. The other follows, breaking free from a heavy, cracking crust that coats my lashes. I try to swivel my neck—where is that alarm clock and how do I get it to stop beeping?—but discover that it’s immobile, swaddled, in a brace, in a pillow of sorts that is holding me together.

No. No. Where am I? I dart my eyes around, my breathing more labored, the beeping increasing with each tightened gasp of air.

In the corner, a tall man with the sloping shoulders of a former football player hovers with a woman whose lines have long ago sunk into her eyes. They are both disheveled, worn, fraying on all sides. His brown hair is tucked under a baseball cap, his three-day-old stubble shadowing his face. His ivory DICK’S DRIVE-THRU T-shirt has two coffee stains on the hem, his jeans marred with a splatter of ketchup. She looks no better in a flowy, used purple dress that could double as a nightgown, her kinky graying hair pulled into a knot on top of her head, reminding me of a mushroom.

“What do you mean she was pregnant?” the man whispers. I want to sit up closer to hear them, lean in and understand, but I am either too sore or too immobile to move. I’m not sure which just yet.

“You didn’t know?” she replies.

“No,” he says, then sinks onto the arm of a chair wedged next to him. “I didn’t know.”

She rubs the small of his back and stares out the window to the open landscape of beige dirty rooftops, one of those long stares that betrays her stoicism, that makes you wonder if she isn’t about to fall apart entirely.

I try to grunt, to let them know that I am here, that I am watching, but my mouth is too dry, my tongue unused for too long.

“I’ll go get coffee,” the man says, rising.

Look at me! Look at me! The beeping accelerates. Beep beep beep beep beep.

Finally, he does.

“Oh my god, Nell, you’re awake!” He rushes over and clasps my hand.

I nod. Or I think I nod.

The woman is by my side in an instant, then just as quickly turns and shouts out the open door, “She’s awake! Page Dr. Macht!” And then she is back, crying now, rubbing my forehead, then pressing into me. “Oh my god, thank god, Nell, you’re awake.”

Before I can understand who she is or what this means, a steady, heady figure appears at the foot of my bed, checking a chart, fiddling with the machines, watching the numbers, the beeping. He nudges his glasses up his nose, smoothing his hair—graying at the temples but thick and wavy all the same—with his right hand. Then he whisks the two of them aside, casting them off like lint, and stares down at me.

“Nell, I’m Dr. Macht. We’re very happy to see you. Do you know where you are?”

I glance behind him. A wave of anxious faces—nurses, strangers—have gathered, filling the room and trickling into the hallway.

I don’t answer, so he asks me again.

“Nell. You’ve been in an accident. Do you recognize where you are?” He flits his hand in the air and turns his head abruptly. “If you’re not part of the core treatment team, please exit the room.” No one moves. “Now.” Slowly, like the draining of a reservoir, the audience ebbs. A smattering of nurses, the man and older woman, and Dr. Macht remain.

“Nell,” he says, and sits carefully on the bed. “Nell, you were in a plane crash. What can you tell me about what you remember about it?”

My eyes circle around, my teeth gnash my bottom lip. I try to search about my memory. What do I remember? A plane? Did I get on a plane? No, no, that wasn’t me. I don’t think I did. A crash? How could I not remember a crash? No, impossible, couldn’t have been me.

“Nothing,” I manage to whisper, the air burning the back of my throat. “I don’t remember a plane crash.”

The older woman who reminds me of a mushroom places a cup with a straw in front of my mouth and nods, so I work my tongue around it, hold it with my teeth, and gulp. Yes. Like manna in the desert. The water works its way into me—I can feel its coolness sink down my larynx and into my belly, softening the arid ground within me.

“Okay, this is very normal.” Dr. Macht turns to the tall man and the woman. “We expected this. Remember, this is all normal.” Then to me, he says, “What do you remember? Let’s start there. Can you tell me what you remember about your life?”

I shake my head, as much as my brace will allow.

Dr. Macht ushers the man closer to the bed. He runs his fingers down my matted hair and starts weeping, silently, violently weeping.

“It’s okay, Peter,” the woman says. “It’s going to be okay.”

He nods, and sort of yelps—a dolphin call—as a way of pulling it together. The tears abate, though his eyes, red-rimmed and sagging beneath his baseball cap, tell me that he is so far from pulling it together, he doesn’t even know what that means anymore.

“Him,” Dr. Macht says, pointing up toward Peter. “Do you know who he is?”

I squint and gaze at him and try to remember. I stare at the spread of muscle under his T-shirt, at his wayward brown strands poking out from his cap, at the veins in his arms that announce themselves all the way down to his palms. Something about his generic, looming handsomeness sends a response trigger to my brain, but I can’t pinpoint what it means, who he is, how he might be important to me.

A nurse hands Dr. Macht a mirror and he thrusts it in front of me. I see my eyes widen at the sight. This is me? This is me. I have no expectation of what I look like, no real map of where my freckles should sit, how my lips should pillow. As it is, there is a purple welt the color of port wine that extends from my left temple down below my eye, and my upper lip has a nasty gash that my tongue flicks over on instinct. My hair is greasy and parted at an angle that illuminates the wan, waxy pallor of my cheeks, and the color of my strands is too close to brown to really be called a natural blond.

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