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Gone girl a novel, p.1

Gone Girl: A Novel, page 1

 

Gone Girl: A Novel
 



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Gone Girl: A Novel


  ALSO BY GILLIAN FLYNN

  Dark Places

  Sharp Objects

  This author is available for select readings and lectures. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact the Random House Speakers Bureau at [email protected] or (212) 572-2013.

  http://www.rhspeakers.com/

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Copyright © 2012 by Gillian Flynn

  Excerpt from “Dark Places” copyright © 2009 by Gillian Flynn

  Excerpt from “Sharp Objects” copyright © 2006 by Gillian Flynn

  All rights reserved.

  Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

  www.crownpublishing.com

  CROWN and the Crown colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Flynn, Gillian, 1971–

  Gone girl : a novel / Gillian Flynn.

  p. cm.

  1. Husbands—Fiction. 2. Married people—Fiction. 3. Wives—Crimes against—Fiction. I. Title. PS3606.L935G66 2012

  813’.6—dc23 2011041525

  eISBN: 978-0-307-58838-8

  JACKET DESIGN BY DARREN HAGGAR

  JACKET PHOTOGRAPH BY BERND OTT

  v3.1_r5

  To Brett: light of my life, senior

  and

  Flynn: light of my life, junior

  Love is the world’s infinite mutability; lies, hatred, murder even, are all knit up in it; it is the inevitable blossoming of its opposites, a magnificent rose smelling faintly of blood.

  —Tony Kushner, THE ILLUSION

  Contents

  Cover

  Other Books by This Author

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Epigraph

  Part One: Boy Loses Girl

  Nick Dunne: The Day of

  Amy Elliott: January 8, 2005

  Nick Dunne: The Day of

  Amy Elliott: September 18, 2005

  Nick Dunne: The Day of

  Amy Elliott Dunne: July 5, 2008

  Nick Dunne: The Night of

  Amy Elliott Dunne: April 21, 2009

  Nick Dunne: One Day Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: July 5, 2010

  Nick Dunne: One Day Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: August 23, 2010

  Nick Dunne: Two Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: September 15, 2010

  Nick Dunne: Three Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: October 16, 2010

  Nick Dunne: Four Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: April 28, 2011

  Nick Dunne: Four Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: July 21, 2011

  Nick Dunne: Five Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: August 17, 2011

  Nick Dunne: Five Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: October 21, 2011

  Nick Dunne: Six Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: February 15, 2012

  Nick Dunne: Six Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: June 26, 2012

  Nick Dunne: Seven Days Gone

  Part Two: Boy Meets Girl

  Amy Elliott Dunne: The Day of

  Nick Dunne: Seven Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: The Day of

  Nick Dunne: Seven Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Five Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Eight Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Seven Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Eight Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Eight Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Eight Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Nine Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Nine Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Nine Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Ten Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Ten Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Ten Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Ten Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Ten Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Eleven Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Fourteen Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Twenty-six Days Gone

  Nick Dunne: Thirty-three Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Forty Days Gone

  Part Three: Boy Gets Girl Back (Or Vice Versa)

  Nick Dunne: Forty Days Gone

  Amy Elliott Dunne: The Night of the Return

  Nick Dunne: The Night of the Return

  Amy Elliott Dunne: The Night of the Return

  Nick Dunne: The Night of the Return

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Five Days After the Return

  Nick Dunne: Thirty Days After the Return

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Eight Weeks After the Return

  Nick Dunne: Nine Weeks After the Return

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Ten Weeks After the Return

  Nick Dunne: Twenty Weeks After the Return

  Amy Elliott Dunne: Ten Months, Two Weeks, Six Days After the Return

  Acknowledgments

  About the Author

  Excerpt from Sharp Objects

  Excerpt from Dark Places

  part one

  BOY LOSES GIRL

  NICK DUNNE

  THE DAY OF

  When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. The shape of it, to begin with. The very first time I saw her, it was the back of the head I saw, and there was something lovely about it, the angles of it. Like a shiny, hard corn kernel or a riverbed fossil. She had what the Victorians would call a finely shaped head. You could imagine the skull quite easily.

  I’d know her head anywhere.

  And what’s inside it. I think of that too: her mind. Her brain, all those coils, and her thoughts shuttling through those coils like fast, frantic centipedes. Like a child, I picture opening her skull, unspooling her brain and sifting through it, trying to catch and pin down her thoughts. What are you thinking, Amy? The question I’ve asked most often during our marriage, if not out loud, if not to the person who could answer. I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

  My eyes flipped open at exactly six A.M. This was no avian fluttering of the lashes, no gentle blink toward consciousness. The awakening was mechanical. A spooky ventriloquist-dummy click of the lids: The world is black and then, showtime! 6-0-0 the clock said—in my face, first thing I saw. 6-0-0. It felt different. I rarely woke at such a rounded time. I was a man of jagged risings: 8:43, 11:51, 9:26. My life was alarmless.

  At that exact moment, 6-0-0, the sun climbed over the skyline of oaks, revealing its full summer angry-god self. Its reflection flared across the river toward our house, a long, blaring finger aimed at me through our frail bedroom curtains. Accusing: You have been seen. You will be seen.

  I wallowed in bed, which was our New York bed in our new house, which we still called the new house, even though we’d been back here for two years. It’s a rented house right along the Mississippi River, a house that screams Suburban Nouveau Riche, the kind of place I aspired to as a kid from my split-level, shag-carpet side of town. The kind of house that is immediately familiar: a generically grand, unchallenging, new, new, new house that my wife would—and did—detest.

  “Should I remove my soul before I come inside?” Her first line upon arrival. It had been a compromise: Amy demanded we rent, not buy, in my little Missouri hometown, in her firm hope that we wouldn’t be stuck here long. But the only houses for rent were cl
ustered in this failed development: a miniature ghost town of bank-owned, recession-busted, price-reduced mansions, a neighborhood that closed before it ever opened. It was a compromise, but Amy didn’t see it that way, not in the least. To Amy, it was a punishing whim on my part, a nasty, selfish twist of the knife. I would drag her, caveman-style, to a town she had aggressively avoided, and make her live in the kind of house she used to mock. I suppose it’s not a compromise if only one of you considers it such, but that was what our compromises tended to look like. One of us was always angry. Amy, usually.

  Do not blame me for this particular grievance, Amy. The Missouri Grievance. Blame the economy, blame bad luck, blame my parents, blame your parents, blame the Internet, blame people who use the Internet. I used to be a writer. I was a writer who wrote about TV and movies and books. Back when people read things on paper, back when anyone cared about what I thought. I’d arrived in New York in the late ’90s, the last gasp of the glory days, although no one knew it then. New York was packed with writers, real writers, because there were magazines, real magazines, loads of them. This was back when the Internet was still some exotic pet kept in the corner of the publishing world—throw some kibble at it, watch it dance on its little leash, oh quite cute, it definitely won’t kill us in the night. Think about it: a time when newly graduated college kids could come to New York and get paid to write. We had no clue that we were embarking on careers that would vanish within a decade.

  I had a job for eleven years and then I didn’t, it was that fast. All around the country, magazines began shuttering, succumbing to a sudden infection brought on by the busted economy. Writers (my kind of writers: aspiring novelists, ruminative thinkers, people whose brains don’t work quick enough to blog or link or tweet, basically old, stubborn blowhards) were through. We were like women’s hat makers or buggy-whip manufacturers: Our time was done. Three weeks after I got cut loose, Amy lost her job, such as it was. (Now I can feel Amy looking over my shoulder, smirking at the time I’ve spent discussing my career, my misfortune, and dismissing her experience in one sentence. That, she would tell you, is typical. Just like Nick, she would say. It was a refrain of hers: Just like Nick to … and whatever followed, whatever was just like me, was bad.) Two jobless grown-ups, we spent weeks wandering around our Brooklyn brownstone in socks and pajamas, ignoring the future, strewing unopened mail across tables and sofas, eating ice cream at ten A.M. and taking thick afternoon naps.

  Then one day the phone rang. My twin sister was on the other end. Margo had moved back home after her own New York layoff a year before—the girl is one step ahead of me in everything, even shitty luck. Margo, calling from good ole North Carthage, Missouri, from the house where we grew up, and as I listened to her voice, I saw her at age ten, with a dark cap of hair and overall shorts, sitting on our grandparents’ back dock, her body slouched over like an old pillow, her skinny legs dangling in the water, watching the river flow over fish-white feet, so intently, utterly self-possessed even as a child.

  Go’s voice was warm and crinkly even as she gave this cold news: Our indomitable mother was dying. Our dad was nearly gone—his (nasty) mind, his (miserable) heart, both murky as he meandered toward the great gray beyond. But it looked like our mother would beat him there. About six months, maybe a year, she had. I could tell that Go had gone to meet with the doctor by herself, taken her studious notes in her slovenly handwriting, and she was teary as she tried to decipher what she’d written. Dates and doses.

  “Well, fuck, I have no idea what this says, is it a nine? Does that even make sense?” she said, and I interrupted. Here was a task, a purpose, held out on my sister’s palm like a plum. I almost cried with relief.

  “I’ll come back, Go. We’ll move back home. You shouldn’t have to do this all by yourself.”

  She didn’t believe me. I could hear her breathing on the other end.

  “I’m serious, Go. Why not? There’s nothing here.”

  A long exhale. “What about Amy?”

  That is what I didn’t take long enough to consider. I simply assumed I would bundle up my New York wife with her New York interests, her New York pride, and remove her from her New York parents—leave the frantic, thrilling futureland of Manhattan behind—and transplant her to a little town on the river in Missouri, and all would be fine.

  I did not yet understand how foolish, how optimistic, how, yes, just like Nick I was for thinking this. The misery it would lead to.

  “Amy will be fine. Amy …” Here was where I should have said, “Amy loves Mom.” But I couldn’t tell Go that Amy loved our mother, because after all that time, Amy still barely knew our mother. Their few meetings had left them both baffled. Amy would dissect the conversations for days after—“And what did she mean by …”—as if my mother were some ancient peasant tribeswoman arriving from the tundra with an armful of raw yak meat and some buttons for bartering, trying to get something from Amy that wasn’t on offer.

  Amy didn’t care to know my family, didn’t want to know my birthplace, and yet for some reason, I thought moving home would be a good idea.

  My morning breath warmed the pillow, and I changed the subject in my mind. Today was not a day for second-guessing or regret, it was a day for doing. Downstairs, I could hear the return of a long-lost sound: Amy making breakfast. Banging wooden cupboards (rump-thump!), rattling containers of tin and glass (ding-ring!), shuffling and sorting a collection of metal pots and iron pans (ruzz-shuzz!). A culinary orchestra tuning up, clattering vigorously toward the finale, a cake pan drumrolling along the floor, hitting the wall with a cymballic crash. Something impressive was being created, probably a crepe, because crepes are special, and today Amy would want to cook something special.

  It was our five-year anniversary.

  I walked barefoot to the edge of the steps and stood listening, working my toes into the plush wall-to-wall carpet Amy detested on principle, as I tried to decide whether I was ready to join my wife. Amy was in the kitchen, oblivious to my hesitation. She was humming something melancholy and familiar. I strained to make it out—a folk song? a lullabye?—and then realized it was the theme to M*A*S*H. Suicide is painless. I went downstairs.

  I hovered in the doorway, watching my wife. Her yellow-butter hair was pulled up, the hank of ponytail swinging cheerful as a jump-rope, and she was sucking distractedly on a burnt fingertip, humming around it. She hummed to herself because she was an unrivaled botcher of lyrics. When we were first dating, a Genesis song came on the radio: “She seems to have an invisible touch, yeah.” And Amy crooned instead, “She takes my hat and puts it on the top shelf.” When I asked her why she’d ever think her lyrics were remotely, possibly, vaguely right, she told me she always thought the woman in the song truly loved the man because she put his hat on the top shelf. I knew I liked her then, really liked her, this girl with an explanation for everything.

  There’s something disturbing about recalling a warm memory and feeling utterly cold.

  Amy peered at the crepe sizzling in the pan and licked something off her wrist. She looked triumphant, wifely. If I took her in my arms, she would smell like berries and powdered sugar.

  When she spied me lurking there in grubby boxers, my hair in full Heat Miser spike, she leaned against the kitchen counter and said, “Well, hello, handsome.”

  Bile and dread inched up my throat. I thought to myself: Okay, go.

  I was very late getting to work. My sister and I had done a foolish thing when we both moved back home. We had done what we always talked about doing. We opened a bar. We borrowed money from Amy to do this, eighty thousand dollars, which was once nothing to Amy but by then was almost everything. I swore I would pay her back, with interest. I would not be a man who borrowed from his wife—I could feel my dad twisting his lips at the very idea. Well, there are all kinds of men, his most damning phrase, the second half left unsaid, and you are the wrong kind.

  But truly, it was a practical decision, a smart business move. Amy a
nd I both needed new careers; this would be mine. She would pick one someday, or not, but in the meantime, here was an income, made possible by the last of Amy’s trust fund. Like the McMansion I rented, the bar featured symbolically in my childhood memories—a place where only grown-ups go, and do whatever grown-ups do. Maybe that’s why I was so insistent on buying it after being stripped of my livelihood. It’s a reminder that I am, after all, an adult, a grown man, a useful human being, even though I lost the career that made me all these things. I won’t make that mistake again: The once plentiful herds of magazine writers would continue to be culled—by the Internet, by the recession, by the American public, who would rather watch TV or play video games or electronically inform friends that, like, rain sucks! But there’s no app for a bourbon buzz on a warm day in a cool, dark bar. The world will always want a drink.

  Our bar is a corner bar with a haphazard, patchwork aesthetic. Its best feature is a massive Victorian backbar, dragon heads and angel faces emerging from the oak—an extravagant work of wood in these shitty plastic days. The remainder of the bar is, in fact, shitty, a showcase of the shabbiest design offerings of every decade: an Eisenhower-era linoleum floor, the edges turned up like burnt toast; dubious wood-paneled walls straight from a ’70s home-porn video; halogen floor lamps, an accidental tribute to my 1990s dorm room. The ultimate effect is strangely homey—it looks less like a bar than someone’s benignly neglected fixer-upper. And jovial: We share a parking lot with the local bowling alley, and when our door swings wide, the clatter of strikes applauds the customer’s entrance.

  We named the bar The Bar. “People will think we’re ironic instead of creatively bankrupt,” my sister reasoned.

  Yes, we thought we were being clever New Yorkers—that the name was a joke no one else would really get, not get like we did. Not meta-get. We pictured the locals scrunching their noses: Why’d you name it The Bar? But our first customer, a gray-haired woman in bifocals and a pink jogging suit, said, “I like the name. Like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn’s cat was named Cat.”

 
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