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By´╝ÜGeorgia Le Carre


The chick behind the counter smiled at me and licked her lips. Shit. That was an invitation if ever I saw one. Sorry, honey, I’m married. Hey, I’m not just married, I’m in fucking love. I had the perfect life. A beautiful wife, two little terrors, a successful career. In fact, I was poised to dominate my industry.

The results of my research would soon be made public and I was going to be a star! Life was good.

‘Keep the change,’ I told her.

Her smile broadened and yet there was disappointment in her eyes.

I grinned and shrugged. ‘If I wasn’t already hooked I’d ask you out. You’re gorgeous.’

‘I’m not jealous,’ she said flirtatiously.

‘My wife is,’ I told her, and picked up the tray of drinks: cappuccino for me, latte for my wife, and two hot chocolates for my monsters. Suddenly I heard a man shout, ‘Fuck me!’ And though those two words had nothing to do with me, my body—no, not just my body, every cell that lived inside me—knew.

They concerned me.

I whirled around, jaw clenched, still clutching the paper tray of drinks as if it was my last link to normality. For precious seconds I was so stunned, I froze. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then an instinct older than life kicked in.

The tray dropped from my hand—one cappuccino, one latte, and two hot chocolates—my last link with normality falling away from me forever, and I began to race toward the burning car. My car. With my family trapped inside. I could see my beautiful babies screaming and banging on the car windows.

‘Get out, get out of the fucking car!’ I screamed as I ran.

I could see them pulling at the handles, their small spread palms hitting desperately on the glass. I could even see their little mouths screaming for me.

‘Daddy, Daddy. Help!’

It was heartbreaking how frightened and white their little faces were. I couldn’t see my wife. Where was she?

I was running so fast my legs felt as though they might buckle, but it was like being in slow motion. Time had slowed down. At that moment thoughts came into my head at sonic speed, but the disaster carried on in real time, slow time. Suddenly my wife lifted her head and I saw her. She was looking out through the window directly at me. I was twenty feet away, but I saw it. I kept on running, but it was like being in a dream where your mother suddenly turns into a green elephant.

You don’t go, What the fuck?

You just carry on as normal even though your mother has just turned into a green elephant. I just carried on running. I no longer looked at my children. My gaze was riveted by the sight of my wife. I was ten feet away when the car exploded.


The force of it picked me up and threw me backwards. I flew into the air and landed hard on the tarmac. I didn’t feel the pain of the impact. Coughing and choking at the smell, the taste and the heat in the thick, black, acrid smoke that poured from the wreckage I got onto my elbows and watched the fire consume my family.

Burning debris rained down. A small pink shoe landed within touching distance. It was charred and still smoking. I felt my body go into lockdown. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t. It could.

There was no grief then. Not even horror. It was just shock. And the inability to comprehend. The loss, the carnage, the tragedy, the green elephant. People came to help me up. I was shaking uncontrollably. They thought I was cold so they wrapped me in blankets. I wasn’t. I was on fire. They sent me in an ambulance to the hospital. I never spoke. The whole time I was trying to figure out the green elephant. Why? How? It confused me.

It destroyed my life—past, present, and future.

Two years later



Marlow Kane

It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen.

—George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (opening line)

‘Lady Swanson is here for her appointment,’ Beryl said into the intercom, her voice at once professional and terribly impressed.

‘Send her in,’ I said, and rose from my desk.

The door opened and a classically beautiful woman entered. Her skin was very pale and as flawless as porcelain. It contrasted greatly with her shoulder-length dark hair and intensely blue eyes. Her dress and long coat were in the same cream material; her shoes exactly matched the color of her skin. The overriding impression was of an impossibly wealthy and elegant woman. Women like her lived in movies and magazines. They did not walk into the consulting rooms of disgraced hypnotists.

‘Lady Swanson,’ I said.

‘Dr. Kane,’ she murmured, her accent polished.

‘Please,’ I said and gestured toward the chair.

She came forward and sat. Looking directly into my eyes she crossed her legs. They were long and encased in the sheerest of tights.