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She was floating, arms outspread, water lapping her body, breathing in a summery fragrance of salt and coconut. There was a pleasantly satisfied breakfast taste in her mouth of bacon and coffee and possibly croissants. She lifted her chin and the morning sun shone so brightly on the water, she had to squint through spangles of light to see her feet in front of her. Her toenails were each painted a different color. Red. Gold. Purple. Funny. The nail polish hadn’t been applied very well. Blobby and messy. Someone else was floating in the water right next to her. Someone she liked a lot, who made her laugh, with toenails painted the same way. The other person waggled multicolored toes at her companionably, and she was filled with sleepy contentment. Somewhere in the distance, a man’s voice shouted, “Marco?” and a chorus of children’s voices cried back, “Polo!” The man called out again, “Marco, Marco, Marco?” and the voices answered, “Polo, Polo, Polo!” A child laughed; a long, gurgling giggle, like a stream of soap bubbles. A voice said quietly and insistently in her ear, “Alice?” and she tipped back her head and let the cool water slide silently over her face.
Jane said of course she would have come to the hospital with her but she had to be in court at two o’clock.
Nick wasn’t waiting at the hospital with flowers for Alice. Nobody was waiting for her, which made her feel slightly heroic.
Apparently Alice’s CT scan was “unremarkable,” which had made her feel ashamed of her mediocrity. It reminded her of her school reports with every single box ticked “Satisfactory” and comments like “A quiet student. Needs to contribute more in class.” They may as well have just come right out and written across the front: “So boring, we don’t actually know who she is.” Elisabeth’s reports had some boxes ticked “Outstanding” and others ticked “Below Standard” and comments like “Can be a little disruptive.” Alice had yearned to be a little disruptive, but she couldn’t work out how you got started.
Excerpted from "What Alice Forgot"
Copyright © 2012 Liane Moriarty.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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