Forget My Name by J. S. Monroe
Forget my Name is the second psychological thriller by J. S. Monroe, the pseudonym of the British author Jon Stock.
How do you know who to trust…
…when you don’t even know who you are?
After flying home from Berlin, a young woman follows the clues in her pockets in an attempt to regain the memories she’s lost. She uses the crumpled train ticket from her pocket and walks the streets until something looks familiar. At an old thatched cottage, she knocks on the door and waits for a reply. When the man who answers the door asks if he can help her she strains to say “I live here, this is my house”.
Tony and Laura, the couple inside the house invite her in and try to help. The young woman can only remember one thing, that the house she’s in is her home but can she really trust herself? Someone’s lying, but who?
Thanks to the lovely people at Head of Zeus I’ve got a great extract of Forget my Name by J. S. Monroe below. Grab a cuppa and get stuck in!
Forget My Name Extract
I can’t remember my own name.
I repeat the words to myself like a mantra, struggling to stay calm, trying to comprehend their full meaning. Loosed from the moorings of my old life, I can only be guided by the present now.
I watch from the train window as the countryside slides by. Is the person opposite staring at me? I study his reflection in the glass. This must be what it feels like to lose your mind. From somewhere at the back of my skull a headache rolls in. Breathe. I can do this.
My legs start to tremble. I press my feet hard into the carriage floor, one at a time, focusing on the canal now running alongside the railway. I need to keep it together, be brave. How might a normal person behave in this situation? They would take time out, allow the brain to do its thing. Let the synapses fire. Half the people in this carriage have probably forgotten things: partners’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries, pin numbers, their own names…
When we reach the station printed on my ticket, I step off the train, filling my lungs with fresh country air as I zigzag up the footpath to the road, following a column of weary commuters. Should I recognise any of them? Rush hour has only just begun. To my left, a river feels its way through a meadow, the shallow water sparkling in the summer sun. Sheep bleat in the distance, a cheer rises from the cricket pitch by the church. Beyond it, fields of rapeseed, the colour of English mustard. And then there’s the canal, rows of brightly painted narrowboats tied up along the towpath.
The village is only an hour on the train from London, but it feels very rural. Pastoral. I walk over the railway bridge and head up the high street, past a letterbox, trying to think straight. I know I’m doing the right thing. When I tried to report my lost bag at the airport, the man at the desk said that temporary amnesia can be triggered by all sort of things, but work-related stress is one of the most common causes. In such circumstances home is the best place to be. Post on the doormat, letters with a name on the envelopes. And when he asked me if I could find my way home, I retrieved a train ticket from my pocket and we both agreed that it must be to where I live.
At the Slaughtered Lamb I turn right into a lane lined with old thatched houses. I should be relieved as I walk down towards the last building on the right, a small cottage with a teal-blue front door and dripping wisteria, but I’m not.
I try to imagine myself closing the front door behind me, flopping down on the sofa with a large glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc and something trashy on the TV. Except that I don’t have a key. Standing in front of the house, I glance up and down the street and hear a voice behind the front door. American. A chill runs through me. I step over to the window and peer in. Two people are moving about in the kitchen, silhouetted by low sunlight slanting in from the garden double doors behind them. I stare at the figures, barely able to breathe. My gaze settles on a man chopping salad at the kitchen island with a large steel knife that catches the light. I want to turn away, run down the street, but I force myself to watch as he cuts. Behind him, a woman stands at a Belfast sink, filling a saucepan with water.
I return to the front door, check the number. It’s the right house. My fingers are shaking too much to press the front-door bell. Instead, I wrap both hands around the wrought-iron knocker and bang it, my head hanging forward like a supplicant in prayer. Om mani padme hum. No answer, so I knock again.
If you liked the above extract of Forget my Name, try reading Anything for Her by G. J Minett.