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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

The Night Before

A Novel

Wendy Walker; read by Saskia Maarleveld and Gabra Zackman

Macmillan Audio

MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK

ONE


Laura Lochner. Session Number One. Four Months Ago. New York City.

Laura: I don’t know if this is a good idea.

Dr. Brody: It’s up to you, Laura.

Laura: What if you try to fix me and I end up more broken?

Dr. Brody: What if you don’t?

Laura: I’m scared to go back there. To the past. To that night in the woods. A piece is still missing.

Dr. Brody: It’s up to you. Only you can decide.

Laura: It was in my hand. The weapon that killed him. But that night didn’t change me. That night made me see what I’ve always been.

Dr. Brody: Then let’s start there. Tell me about the girl you’ve always been.



TWO

Laura. Present Day. Thursday, 7 P.M. Branston, CT.

Lipstick, cherry red.

I choose the color because it’s bright and cheerful. It’s optimism in a tube. And that’s exactly what I need tonight.

The guest bathroom at my sister’s house is impossibly small, with slanted ceilings and a tiny oval mirror. The lipstick hovers on the edge of a pedestal sink.

I put it on first so I won’t change my mind, rolling that optimism right across my lips. Next comes the concealer. Two stripes under my brown eyes, and the dark circles from weeks of insomnia disappear. Rose blush colors cheeks that have not seen the sun for far too long.

Insomniacs sleep during the day.

My sister, Rosie, gave me a pretty dress to wear. Black with tiny flowers.

Wear a dress for a change. It will make you feel pretty.

Rosie just turned thirty. She has a husband and a toddler—Joe and Mason. They have a house in the hills of Branston, six miles from downtown. And one mile from the place where all of this started. The street where we grew up. Deer Hill Lane.

Rosie says she doesn’t have any occasion to wear the dress. The skirt gets in her way when she’s chasing after Mason and she’s too tired to do much of anything at night except grab a beer in the strip mall at the edge of town. She says this like she misses having nothing better to do than put on makeup and dresses. But really, she doesn’t need the dress or the occasions to wear it, because her days are filled with bear hugs and belly laughs and sticky kisses on her face.

Her husband, Joe, doesn’t care. He adores her. Even now, after thirteen years together. After growing up together on the same street. Even with Mason sleeping in their bed, and an old house in need of constant repair, and Rosie never wearing a dress.

He adores her because when they were young, she wore lots of pretty dresses for him and that’s the person he still sees.

That’s the kind of person I need to be tonight.

I search for my phone in a pile of towels and clothing that lie on the bathroom floor. When I do, I pull up the profile and unchain the hope. Jonathan Fields. His name sounds like a song.

Jonathan Fields. I found him on a dating website called findlove.com—an actual website. The name says everything about it. Jonathan Fields is forty. His wife left him a year ago because she couldn’t get pregnant. She kept their house. He drives a black BMW.

That’s what he told me.

Jonathan Fields spoke to me on the phone. He said he didn’t like emails or texting because it was too impersonal. He said he hated online dating but that his friend met his fiancé on findlove.com. It was not one of those hookup apps. No swiping allowed. The profile takes an hour to build. They have to approve your photos. Jonathan Fields said it was like having your grandmother fix you up on a blind date, and this made me laugh.

Jonathan Fields said he liked the sound of it.

I liked the sound of his voice, and remembering it now actually sends a surge of warmth through my body. I feel my mouth turn up at the corners. A smile.

A fucking smile.

I told him a lot about my job, and this made it easier to tell him very little about me.

I have an impressive résumé after jumping through hoops all my life. Princeton … an MBA from Columbia … a job on Wall Street!


Copyright © 2019 by Wendy Walker.