Twenties Girl

Page 27


“It’s easy to eat an oyster!”
“No, it isn’t.”
I suddenly notice a blond woman in a print dress at the next table nudging the perfectly groomed woman next to her and pointing at me. I’m talking to thin air. I look like a lunatic. Hastily I reach for a bread roll and start to butter it, avoiding Sadie’s eye.
“Excuse me.” The woman leans over and smiles at me. “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I don’t mean to interrupt, but did you just say your phone is embedded in your earring?”
I stare back at her, my mind scrabbling for an answer other than “yes.”
“Yes,” I say at last.
The woman claps a hand to her mouth. “That’s amazing. How does it work?”
“It has a special… chip. Very new. Japanese.”
“I have to get one.” She’s gazing at my Claire’s Accessories £5.99 earring, awestruck. “Where do they sell them?”
“Actually, this is a prototype,” I say hurriedly. “They’ll be available in a year or so.”
“Well, how did you get one, then?” She gives me an aggressive look.
“I… um… know Japanese people. Sorry.”
“Could I see?” She holds out her hand. “Could you take it out of your ear for a moment? Would you mind?”
“A call’s just coming in,” I say hastily. “It’s vibrating.”
“I can’t see anything.” She’s peering incredulously at my ear.
“It’s very subtle,” I say desperately. “They’re microvibrations. Er, Hello, Matt? Yes, I can talk.”
I mime apologies to the woman and reluctantly she returns to her meal. I can see her pointing me out to all her friends.
“What are you talking about?” Sadie’s eyeing me disdainfully. “How can a telephone be in an earring? It sounds like a riddle.”
“I don’t know. Don’t you start quizzing me too.” I prod an oyster with little enthusiasm.
“Do you really not know how to eat an oyster?”
“Never eaten one before in my life.”
Sadie shakes her head disapprovingly. “Pick up your fork. The shellfish fork. Go on!” Casting her a suspicious look, I do as she says. “Ease it around, make sure it’s detached from the shell… Now give it a squeeze of lemon and pick it up. Like this.” She mimes picking up an oyster, and I copy. “Head back and swallow the whole thing. Bottoms up!”
It’s like swallowing a piece of jellified sea. Somehow I manage to slurp down the whole thing, grab my glass, and take a swig of champagne.
“You see?” Sadie is watching me greedily. “Isn’t that too delicious?”
“’s OK,” I say reluctantly. I put my glass down and survey her silently for a moment. She’s reclining on the chair as though she owns the place, one arm flung to the side, her beaded bag dangling down.
She’s all in my head, I tell myself. My subconscious has invented her.
Except… my subconscious doesn’t know how to eat an oyster. Does it?
“What is it?” She juts out her chin. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
My brain is edging very slowly to a conclusion. To the only possible conclusion.
“You’re a ghost, aren’t you?” I say at last. “You’re not a hallucination. You’re a proper, real-live ghost.”
Sadie gives a remote shrug, as though she’s really not interested in this conversation.
“Aren’t you?”
Again, Sadie doesn’t reply. Her head is tilted and she’s examining her fingernails. Maybe she doesn’t want to be a ghost. Well, too bad. She is.
“You are a ghost. I know you are. So, what, am I psychic?”
My head is prickling all over as this revelation hits me. I feel a bit shivery. I can talk to the dead. Me, Lara Lington. I always knew there was something different about me.
Think of the implications. Think what this means! Maybe I’ll start talking to more ghosts. Lots of ghosts. Oh my God, I could have my own TV show. I could go around the world. I could be famous! I have a sudden vision of myself on a stage, channeling spirits while an audience watches avidly. With a surge of excitement, I lean across the table.
“Do you know any other dead people you could introduce me to?”
“No.” Sadie folds her arms crossly. “I don’t.”
“Have you met Marilyn Monroe? Or Elvis? Or… or Princess Diana? What’s she like? Or Mozart!” I feel almost dizzy as possibilities pile into my head. “This is mind-blowing. You have to describe it! You have to tell me what it’s like … there.”