Chapter no 49 – Game

The Midnight Library

‘I ask you something we already know and you say the answer. So, if I ask “What is Mummy’s name?”, you would say “Nora”. Get it?’

‘I think so.’

‘So, what is your name?’ ‘Molly.’

‘Okay, what is Daddy’s name?’ ‘Daddy!’

‘But what is his actual name?’ ‘Ash!’

Well. at was a really successful coee date. ‘And where do we live?’


Cambridge. It kind of made sense. Nora had always liked Cambridge, and it was only thirty miles from Bedford. Ash must have liked it too. And it was still commutable distance from London, if he still worked there. Briefly, aer getting her First from Bristol, she had applied to do an MPhil in Philosophy and had been oered a place at Caius College.

‘What part of Cambridge? Can you remember? What is our street called?’ ‘We live on . . . Bol . . . Bolton Road.’

‘Well done! And do you have any brothers or sisters!’ ‘No!’

‘And do Mummy and Daddy like each other?’ Molly laughed a little at that. ‘Yes!’

‘Do we ever shout?’

e laugh became cheeky. ‘Sometimes! Especially Mummy!’


‘You only shout when you are really, really, really tired and you say sorry so it is okay. Everything is okay if you say sorry. at’s what you say.’

‘Does Mummy go out to work?’ ‘Yes. Sometimes.’

‘Do I still work at the shop where I met Daddy?’ ‘No.’

‘What does Mummy do when she goes out to work?’ ‘Teaches people!’

‘How does she – how do I teach people? What do I teach?’ ‘Fill-o . . . fill-o-wosso-fee . . .’

‘Philosophy?’ ‘at’s what I said!’

‘And where do I teach that? At a university?’ ‘Yes!’

‘Which university?’ en she remembered where they lived. ‘At Cambridge University?’

at’s it!’

She tried to fill in the gaps. Maybe in this life she had re-applied to do a Master’s, and on successfully completing that she had got into teaching there.

Either way, if she was going to bluff it in this life, she was probably going to have to read some more philosophy. But then Molly said: ‘But you are stopping now.’

‘Stopping? Why am I stopping?’ ‘To do books!’

‘Books for you?’

‘No, silly. To do a grown-up book.’ ‘I’m writing a book?’

‘Yes! I just said.’

‘I know. I’m just trying to get you to say some things twice. Because it is doubly nice. And it makes bears even less scary. Okay?’


‘Does Daddy work?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Do you know what Daddy’s job is?’

‘Yes. He cuts people!’

For a brief moment she forgot Ash was a surgeon and wondered if she was in the house of a serial killer. ‘Cuts people?’

‘Yes, he cuts people’s bodies and makes them better!’ ‘Ah, yes. Of course.’

‘He saves people!’ ‘Yes, he does.’

‘Except when he is sad and the person died.’ ‘Yes, that is sad.’

‘Does Daddy work in Bedford still? Or does he work in Cambridge now?’ She shrugged. ‘Cambridge?’

‘Does he play music?’

‘Yes. Yes, he plays the music. But very very very very badly!’ She giggled as she said that.

Nora laughed too. Molly’s giggle was contagious. ‘It’s . . . Do you have any aunts and uncles?’

‘Yes, I have Aunt Jaya.’ ‘Who is Aunt Jaya?’ ‘Daddy’s sister.’ ‘Anyone else?’

‘Yes, Uncle Joe and Uncle Ewan.’

Nora felt relieved her brother was alive in this timeline. And that he was with the same man he was with in her Olympic life. And he was clearly in their lives enough for Molly to know his name.

‘When did we last see Uncle Joe?’ ‘Christmas!’

‘Do you like Uncle Joe?’

‘Yes! He’s funny! And he gave me Panda!’ ‘Panda?’

‘My best cuddly!’ ‘Pandas are bears too.’ ‘Nice bears.’

Molly yawned. She was getting sleepy.

‘Do Mummy and Uncle Joe like each other?’ ‘Yes! You always talk on the phone!’

is was interesting. Nora had assumed that the only lives in which she still got on with her brother were the lives in which she had never been in

e Labyrinths (unlike her decision to keep swimming, the coee date with Ash post-dated her experience in e Labyrinths). But this was throwing that theory. Nora couldn’t help but wonder if this lovely Molly herself was the missing link. Maybe this little girl in front of her had healed the ri between her and her brother.

‘Do you have grandparents?’ ‘Only Grandma Sal.’

Nora wanted to ask more about her own parents’ deaths, but this probably wasn’t the time.

‘Are you happy? I mean, when you aren’t thinking about bears?’ ‘I think so.’

‘Are Mummy and Daddy happy?’

‘Yes,’ she said, slowly. ‘Sometimes. When you are not tired!’ ‘And do we have lots of fun times?’

She rubbed her eyes. ‘Yes.’ ‘And do we have any pets?’ ‘Yes. Plato.’

‘And who is Plato?’ ‘Our dog.’

‘And what type of dog is Plato?’

But she got no answer, because Molly was asleep. And Nora lay there, on the carpet, and closed her eyes.

When she woke up, a tongue was licking her face.

A Labrador with smiling eyes and a waggy tail seemed amused or excited to see her.

‘Plato?’ she asked, sleepily.

at’s me, Plato seemed to wag.

It was morning. Light flooded through the curtains now. Cuddly toys –including Panda, and the elephant Nora had identified earlier – littered the floor. She looked at the bed and saw it was empty. Molly wasn’t in the room. And there were feet – heavier feet than Molly’s – coming up the stairs.

She sat up and knew she must look terrible aer sleeping on the carpet in a baggy Cure T-shirt (which she recognised) and tartan pyjama bottoms (which she didn’t). She felt her face and it was creased from where she had

been lying, and her hair – which was longer in this life – felt dirty and bedraggled. She tried to make herself look as presentable as it was possible to look in the two seconds before the arrival of a man she simultaneously slept with every night and also hadn’t ever slept with. Schrödinger’s husband, so to speak.

And then, suddenly, there he was.

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