The Girl on the Train

by

Paula Hawkins

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Megan Hipwell / “Jess” Character Analysis

Megan Hipwell is one of the book’s narrators and protagonists. Megan is a young, artistic, sensitive woman with a dark past and a restless, insatiable spirit—and she’s missing when the events of the novel begin. Through flashback chapters, Hawkins provides pieces together the story of how Megan disappeared. After marrying the passionate but deeply possessive Scott, Megan quickly finds herself dissatisfied with suburban life and the demands of domesticity. Unable to even consider motherhood in spite of her husband’s longing to be a father, Megan begins delving into the depths of her trauma surrounding children in therapy sessions with the gentle, inquisitive Dr. Kamal Abdic. Megan, who suffered the loss of a her daughter Libby from a previous relationship at just 19 years old, has spent her life trying to outrun the criminal mistakes of her past. And in the process, she’s gotten herself swept up into a series of damaging and indeed dangerous relationships. Megan begins having an affair with Tom Watson, the father of Evie, the child she babysits—and when Megan becomes pregnant with a baby that may or may not be Tom’s, she finds herself placed in a life-threatening position as Tom’s violent impulses surface. Megan’s disappearance—eventually revealed to be a murder committed by Tom himself—sends shockwaves through the quiet suburb of Witney. As the headlines change each week, Megan is alternately cast as a victim, a killer, a tramp, and a misfit, demonstrating the unrealistic and damaging pressures society places upon women. Megan, like Rachel, is a woman who has lived much of her life on the brink due to her failure to embody the virtues of femininity and maternal instinct society demands of women. And ultimately, she’s made to pay with her life for her inability to live up to those crushing standards.

Megan Hipwell / “Jess” Quotes in The Girl on the Train

The The Girl on the Train quotes below are all either spoken by Megan Hipwell / “Jess” or refer to Megan Hipwell / “Jess”. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of The Girl on the Train published in 2015.
Rachel: One Quotes

I know that on warm summer evenings, the occupants of this house, Jason and Jess, sometimes climb out of the large sash window to sit on the makeshift terrace on top of the kitchen-extension roof. They are a perfect, golden couple. […] While we're stuck at the red signal, I look for them. Jess is often out there in the mornings, especially in the summer, drinking her coffee. Sometimes, when I see her there, I feel as though she sees me, too, I feel as though she looks right back at me, and I want to wave.

Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: One Quotes

Sometimes I don't even watch the trains go past, I just listen. Sitting here in the morning, eyes closed and the hot sun orange on my eyelids, I could be anywhere.

Related Characters: Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Two Quotes

I don't have words to describe what I felt that day, but now, sitting on the train, I am furious, nails digging into my palms, tears stinging my eyes. I feel a flash of intense anger. I feel as though something has been taken away from me. How could she? How could Jess do this? What is wrong with her? Look at the life they have, look at how beautiful it is!

Related Characters: Rachel Watson (speaker), Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 30-31
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: Three Quotes

I'm walking in the woods. I've been out since before it got light, it's barely dawn now, deathly quiet except for the occasional outburst of chatter from the magpies in the trees above my head. I can feel them watching me, beady-eyed, calculating. A tiding of magpies. One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.

I've got a few of those.

Related Characters: Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker)
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Four Quotes

On the train on the way home, as I dissect all the ways that today went wrong, I'm surprised by the fact that I don't feel as awful as I might. Thinking about it, I know why that is: I didn't have a drink last night, and I have no desire to have one now. I am interested, for the first time in ages, in something other than my own misery. I have purpose. Or at least, I have a distraction.

Related Characters: Rachel Watson (speaker), Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: Four Quotes

Who's to say that once I run, I'll find that isn't enough? Who's to say I won't end up feeling exactly the way I do right now—not safe, but stifled? Maybe I'll want to run again, and again, and eventually I'll end up back by those old tracks, because there's nowhere left to go.

Related Characters: Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker)
Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Five Quotes

I'm thinking about her now. I have to convince Scott that I knew her—a little, not a lot. That way, he'll believe me when I tell him that I saw her with another man. If I admit to lying right away, he'll never trust me. So I try to imagine what it would have been like to drop by the gallery, chat with her over a coffee. Does she drink coffee? We would talk about art, perhaps, or yoga, or our husbands. I don't know anything about art, I've never done yoga. I don't have a husband. And she betrayed hers.

Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: Six Quotes

"I fell asleep," I say, and then I can't say any more, because I can feel her again, no longer on my chest, her body wedged between my arm and the edge of the tub, her face in the water. We were both so cold.

Related Characters: Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker), Libby, Dr. Kamal Abdic
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:
Anna: Four Quotes

She held up a newspaper with the headline WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER? I was speechless. I just stared at it and, ridiculously, burst into tears. […] Diane glanced slyly up at me and asked, "Are you all right, sweetie?" She was enjoying it, I could tell.

I had to leave then, I couldn't stay. They were all being terribly concerned, saying how awful it must be for me, but I could see it on their faces: thinly disguised disapproval. How could you entrust your child to that monster? You must be the worst mother in the world.

Related Characters: Anna Watson (speaker), Megan Hipwell / “Jess”, Evie
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Eleven Quotes

Megan isn't what I thought she was anyway. She wasn't that beautiful, carefree girl out on the terrace. She wasn't a loving wife. She wasn't even a good person. She was a liar, a cheat.

She was a killer.

Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: Seven Quotes

I'm just turning to walk to the station when a man comes running along the pavement, earphones on, head down. He's heading straight for me, and as I step back, trying to get out of the way, I slip off the edge of the pavement and fall.

The man doesn't apologize, he doesn't even look back at me, and I'm too shocked to cry out. I get to my feet and stand there, leaning against a car, trying to catch my breath.

Related Characters: Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker), Dr. Kamal Abdic
Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 214-215
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Thirteen Quotes

“Every time I passed that hole in the wall I thought about it. Tom said he was going to patch it up, but he didn't, and I didn't want to pester him about it. One day I was standing there […] and I […] remembered. I was on the floor, my back to the wall, sobbing and sobbing, Tom standing over me, begging me to calm down, the golf club on the carpet next to my feet, and I felt it, I felt it. I was terrified. The memory doesn't fit with the reality, because I don't remember anger, raging fury. I remember fear."

Page Number: 230
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Fifteen Quotes

Everything is a lie. I didn't imagine him hitting me. I didn't imagine him walking away from me quickly, his fists clenched. I saw him turn, shout. I saw him walking down the road with a woman, I saw him getting into the car with her. I didn't imagine it. And I realize then that it's all very simple, so very simple.

Related Characters: Rachel Watson (speaker), Tom Watson, Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Page Number: 271-272
Explanation and Analysis:
Anna: Nine Quotes

"I don't believe you," I say. "Why would he lie about that?"

"Because he lies about everything."

Related Characters: Anna Watson (speaker), Rachel Watson (speaker), Tom Watson, Megan Hipwell / “Jess”
Page Number: 279
Explanation and Analysis:
Megan: Nine Quotes

"Did you hear what I just said?” he snaps, turning his back on me and striding back up the path towards the car. "You'd be a terrible mother, Megan. Just get rid of it."

I go after him… […] I’m yelling at him, screaming, trying to scratch his fucking smug face, and he’s laughing… […] It’s not even rejection, it's dismissal. […]

He's not laughing anymore.

He's coming towards me. He has something in his hand.

I've fallen. I must have slipped. Hit my head on something. I think I'm going to be sick. Everything is red. I can’t get up. […] Someone is speaking to me. Now look. Now look what you made me do.

Related Characters: Tom Watson (speaker), Megan Hipwell / “Jess” (speaker)
Page Number: 304
Explanation and Analysis:
Rachel: Nineteen Quotes

Tom's lips are moving, he's saying something to me, but I can't hear him. I watch him come, I watch him, and I don't move until he's almost upon me, and then I swing. I jam the vicious twist of the corkscrew into his neck.

His eyes widen as he falls without a sound. He raises his hands to his throat, his eyes on mine. He looks as though he's crying. I watch until I can't look any longer, then I turn my back on him. As the train goes past I can see faces in brightly lit windows, heads bent over books and phones, travellers warm and safe on their way home.

Related Symbols: Trains
Page Number: 317
Explanation and Analysis:
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Megan Hipwell / “Jess” Character Timeline in The Girl on the Train

The timeline below shows where the character Megan Hipwell / “Jess” appears in The Girl on the Train. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Rachel: One
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...named the occupants of the house, whom she sometimes spies from the tracks, “Jason” and “Jess.” Jason and Jess are a “golden” couple: Jason is dark-haired and handsome. Jess is tiny,... (full context)
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...weeknight. As the train rattles along, Rachel waits to catch a glimpse of Jason and Jess once again—but neither of them is on the deck or in the garden. Rachel cannot... (full context)
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...hit by a train can rip one’s clothes off. At the signal stop, Rachel sees Jess standing on the patio. Rachel recalls when she herself used to live on Blenheim Road—a... (full context)
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...a stifling hot morning on the train. Rachel looks out the window for Jason or Jess during the signal stop, but she cannot see either of them. She wonders what the... (full context)
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As the train comes to the signal, Rachel spots Jess on the patio and notices that Jess seems sad. Rachel waits for Jason to emerge... (full context)
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...on the train home, Rachel finds that she has been unable to stop thinking about Jess all day. She wonders why Jess looked so lonely this morning—and where Jason could have... (full context)
Megan: One
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012. One year earlier. Megan Hipwell—whom Rachel knows as Jess—sits on her patio drinking coffee as the morning train stops... (full context)
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That evening, Megan sits on the porch again, enjoying a martini. She reflects on her day—earlier, while working... (full context)
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012. Megan gets dressed simply—even shabbily—to go to her new day job as a nanny for the... (full context)
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Thursday, August 16, 2012. Megan quits her job as a nanny for Anna and Tom Watson—finally, she feels free. She... (full context)
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Thursday, September 20, 2012. After a sleepless night, Megan feels itchy and restless; she wishes that she could shave her head or take a... (full context)
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After a long wait at the office, Megan finally meets with her new therapist: Dr. Kamal Abdic. Throughout the introductory appointment, Megan finds... (full context)
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Megan wakes up, having finally slept for a few hours. Feeling cooped up, she decides to... (full context)
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Later that evening, Scott is late coming home from work. Megan begins feeling jittery and antsy waiting for him to arrive home, so she decides to... (full context)
Rachel: Two
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...to London. As the train stops at the signal, Rachel looks out the window for Jess and Jason. She is shocked when she sees Jess in the yard kissing another man.... (full context)
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...Rachel falls asleep—when she wakes up at the signal, she looks out the window for Jess and Jason but cannot see either of them.  (full context)
Megan: Two
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012. Megan stands outside in the cold air, recalling the panic attack she had last night as... (full context)
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That evening, Megan comes home to find that Scott has been on her computer, no doubt searching through... (full context)
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Saturday, October 13, 2012. Megan wakes up, having slept five hours after doing something risky the night before. After Pilates... (full context)
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That evening, Scott asks Megan if she had fun with Tara the night before. Megan replies that she had a... (full context)
Rachel: Three
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...got hit by the taxi: by running into the road after reading the news that Jess—whose real name is Megan Hipwell—is missing. Rachel recalls reading the news article on the computer... (full context)
Megan: Three
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Thursday, January 10, 2013. It is a dark, cold morning, and Megan wishes that she could stay home watching TV, having sex, and eating junk food with... (full context)
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In therapy, Megan tells Kamal about how she met Mac while living in Ipswich as a runaway after... (full context)
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Friday, February 8, 2013. Megan takes a morning walk through the woods and spies a flock of magpies. Scott is... (full context)
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At the end of the session with Kamal, Megan recalls, she asked him out for a drink. When he said it wouldn’t be appropriate,... (full context)
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Megan takes a nap and wakes up in the middle of the afternoon feeling feverish and... (full context)
Rachel: Four
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...July 16, 2013. Rachel is on the 8:04—but she is headed to Witney, not London. Megan has been missing since Saturday evening, and while Rachel doesn’t want to run into Tom... (full context)
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...in blood. She realized that the memory must have come from Saturday night—the night of Megan’s disappearance and of her own blackout. Rachel hurried toward the platform, yet the flashback kept... (full context)
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...London, Rachel goes to a library and sits at a computer, obsessively reading stories about Megan’s disappearance. After several hours, she decides to return home. She is determined to call the... (full context)
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...to—the police. She finds the idea that she could have had something to do with Megan’s death ridiculous. But Rachel also knows enough about blackouts to realize that because the brain... (full context)
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...told Rachel that she was seen acting strangely on Blenheim Road around the time that Megan left home—investigators learned this when speaking with Anna Watson. Rachel felt embarrassed and nervous, recalling... (full context)
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The detectives showed Rachel a picture of Megan and asked if she’d seen her. Rachel said that she hadn’t. Gaskill gave Rachel his... (full context)
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Gaskill and Riley began to suggest that perhaps Rachel attacked Megan, believing that she was Anna—both women, they pointed out, are of similar build with blond... (full context)
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...and said she was leaving—and that she assumed the police would be following up with Megan’s lover. The detectives asked Rachel what she meant, and she told them about seeing Megan... (full context)
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...2013. Rachel buys three newspapers for her morning train journey and reads the articles about Megan that they contain. Rachel learns from the articles several facts about Megan: she was born... (full context)
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...website for his IT business. In the message, she introduced herself as an acquaintance of Megan’s and stated that she had some information about Megan that might help him. Now, however,... (full context)
Megan: Four
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Thursday, March 7, 2013. Megan and her unnamed lover are in a hotel bed. They daydream aloud about taking a... (full context)
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Friday, March 8, 2013. Scott brings Megan coffee on the terrace. He kisses her neck and observes that she slept well the... (full context)
Rachel: Five
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...several men and asked her to identify the man she saw on the balcony with Megan just before Megan’s disappearance. Rachel pointed to the picture of the man whom she believes... (full context)
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...feels bad for getting wrapped up in the excitement of the investigation and forgetting that Megan is a real person: beloved yet flawed, imperfect as so many people are. (full context)
Rachel: Six
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...her in warmly. Rachel immediately felt dizzy and disoriented as she realized that Scott and Megan’s house had the exact same layout as her and Tom’s old house just down the... (full context)
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...into his house to do it. As Scott continued questioning Rachel about her connection to Megan and to Blenheim Road, he pieced together the fact that she was Tom Watson’s ex-wife.... (full context)
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Scott confides in Rachel about the terrible fight he and Megan had the night of the disappearance. He admits that he simply let Megan go, believing... (full context)
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...reads an article on his iPad about a man who was arrested in connection with Megan’s disappearance. Rachel apologizes for reading over his shoulder, but when she tells him that she... (full context)
Megan: Five
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Thursday, March 21, 2013. Megan is angry—her lover has not called or texted her, and she is feeling both abandoned... (full context)
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Megan arrives at her therapy appointment agitated and out of breath, having ignored Scott’s calls all... (full context)
Rachel: Seven
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...confided in Rachel that he had been waiting by the phone for grim news about Megan. Rachel apologized for coming by, but she also said she didn’t want Scott to be... (full context)
Anna: Two
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That evening, Anna learns that someone has been arrested in connection with Megan’s disappearance. Tom wants to discuss the news—but Anna is still focused on Rachel and whether... (full context)
Rachel: Eight
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...laptop to read the news. She is disappointed when there are no new articles about Megan’s disappearance or about Kamal Abdic. Rachel knows from yesterday’s news that there has been “evidence”... (full context)
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...the sink. As Rachel falls into a drowsy sleep, she dreams of Scott angrily calling Megan’s name. (full context)
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...nightmares in which she’s trapped beneath the underpass at Blenheim Road. She’s begun to believe Megan will never be found. Earlier this week, Rachel sent a letter to Scott admitting her... (full context)
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...him, she tells him that she needs to talk to him about the night of Megan’s disappearance. Tom warns Rachel to stay away from Scott, whom he believes is dangerous—but Rachel... (full context)
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...she’s been doing hanging around the Hipwells’. Rachel tells Tom that she informed Scott about Megan’s affair with her therapist—but that as an unreliable witness, she was unable to convince the... (full context)
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Monday, July 29, 2013. Rachel is on the train to London once again. Megan’s disappearance has all but disappeared from the news. When the train stops at Witney, Rachel... (full context)
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...her condolences about Abdic not being charged. Scott insists that while authorities found evidence of Megan’s presence in Abdic’s house, there was not enough evidence to convict him of a crime.... (full context)
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...drinking started while they were married and struggling to conceive. Scott admits that he and Megan often argued about whether or not to have children. Rachel asks if that is what... (full context)
Megan: Six
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Thursday, June 13, 2013. Megan awakes from a fitful half-sleep feeling hot and suffocated. She resents Scott’s presence in her... (full context)
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That evening, while Scott thinks that Megan is at the movies with Tara, Megan goes to Kamal’s house and knocks on the... (full context)
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Megan tells Kamal about moving into Mac’s isolated cottage near the sea. Days would go by... (full context)
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One day, when Libby was just a few months old, Megan and Mac got into a horrible fight. Mac left the house. Megan was freezing in... (full context)
Rachel: Nine
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...on the train to go into London. Once on the train, she sees pictures of Megan on discarded newspaper and every open iPad and computer: Megan is, as Rachel knew she... (full context)
Anna: Three
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...refuses to turn on the TV or go on the internet—she doesn’t want to see Megan’s face. Anna tries not to think of Rachel, either—though the authorities have confirmed that Rachel... (full context)
Rachel: Ten
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...at Scott’s house, she finds him looking disheveled and defeated. When she asks Scott about Megan’s relationship with Anna, Scott says that there was nothing remarkable between the women. Rachel confesses... (full context)
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...things will be okay, but Scott reveals that he sent a cruel text message to Megan on the night of her disappearance. Scott begs Rachel to tell the police that Scott... (full context)
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...Rachel and orders her to remember something, anything, from the drunken haze of the Saturday Megan went missing. But Rachel can remember only bits and pieces: falling in the underpass, finding... (full context)
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...to get sober—when suddenly, she spots a paper at a newsstand whose headline reads “WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?” (full context)
Anna: Four
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...of the women in the meet-up group enters holding a newspaper bearing the headline “WAS MEGAN A CHILD KILLER?” Anna stares at the headline for a moment before bursting into tears.... (full context)
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...relieved to find that it is sensationalistic and highly vague, though it does suggest that Megan may have killed her own child 10 years ago—and that this murder could be a... (full context)
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...angrily about needing to leave Blenheim Road. Between the passing trains, Rachel snooping around, and Megan’s disappearance, Anna has had enough. She gives Tom an ultimatum: she needs to leave. Tom... (full context)
Rachel: Eleven
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...could possibly get, they get even worse. Today, Scott says, he got the news that Megan was pregnant when she was killed. Scott begins crying, and Rachel soon begins sobbing too. (full context)
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...his being here. Scott tells Rachel how hard things have been since the story about Megan’s first child broke. Detectives believe the deceased baby’s father may have killed Megan. Gaskill and... (full context)
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...see Scott—he has asked her to come over. Last night, authorities recovered the remains of Megan’s first child buried on the East Anglian coast. Rachel gets off at Witney and makes... (full context)
Megan: Seven
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Thursday, June 20, 2013. Megan is back at Kamal’s house. He pours her a glass of wine, snuggles against her,... (full context)
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After 10 days, Megan says, she packed her things and left the cottage in the woods. She never saw... (full context)
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The conversation finished, Megan prepares to head home. On her way out the door, Megan asks Kamal if she... (full context)
Rachel: Twelve
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...has made coffee. As she walks through the house, she notices that all traces of Megan’s presence are gone. She wonders if Scott or Scott’s mother got rid of her things—or... (full context)
Rachel: Thirteen
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...another pile of clothes by the train tracks as she rides into London. She sees “Jess” and “Jason” on the terrace of number 15, chatting happily. Rachel anticipates moving forward, past... (full context)
Rachel: Fourteen
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...coming over. Earlier, Rachel read a story in the newspaper about the deceased father of Megan’s dead child—his death rules him out as a suspect and brings Scott back to the... (full context)
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...Rachel a drink, but she refuses. Scott tells her that the DNA tests done on Megan’s fetus have come back: the child was neither Scott’s nor Kamal’s, meaning that Megan was... (full context)
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...Rachel throws up on the carpet. After she finds a smashed picture of Scott and Megan in the corner of the room, she runs to the window, throws it open, and... (full context)
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...what she wants. Rachel asks him for details about their encounter on the night of Megan’s disappearance—and whether Anna was with him when he came out looking for her in the... (full context)
Rachel: Fifteen
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...the train pulls in: the woman in the blue dress she saw wasn’t Anna, but Megan. (full context)
Anna: Nine
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Rachel asks if Anna knows about Megan. Anna says that she knows Tom and Megan were having an affair—and that she doesn’t... (full context)
Megan: Eight
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Friday, July 12, 2013. Megan is pregnant. Though she believed that if she ever got pregnant again she’d want to... (full context)
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Megan goes outside to the terrace, and Kamal brings her a coffee and kisses her as... (full context)
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Saturday, July 13, 2013. Megan knows that she must tell Scott the truth. This time, she thinks, she wants to... (full context)
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Megan pushes her way out of the bedroom and hurries downstairs to the front door. Scott... (full context)
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Feeling restless, Megan gets up and walks toward the Witney station. As she approaches the underpass, she sees... (full context)
Rachel: Seventeen
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...she’s drunk. Rachel pulls out her phone and tells Tom that she saw him with Megan the evening Megan went missing—and that she remembers him hitting Rachel herself. Tom turns to... (full context)
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...her to see that Tom is lying. She reminds Anna that Tom was sleeping with Megan. Tom insists that there was nothing between him and Megan, but Anna says that she... (full context)
Megan: Nine
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Saturday, July 13, 2013. As Tom drives Megan to the woods, she notices that he has blood on his hand. He blames the... (full context)
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Megan, incensed, follows Tom and begins hitting him and screaming insults at him. She tells him... (full context)
Rachel: Eighteen
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...Tom insists that Anna change the baby in the room. Rachel asks why Tom killed Megan, and Tom responds that Megan was a lot like Rachel—she couldn’t let go of things.... (full context)
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Tom turns to Anna and tells her that he never meant to kill Megan—but when she started talking about making him pay for her baby, he needed her to... (full context)
Rachel: Nineteen
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...tells Rachel that she’s brought this upon herself, and he suggests that she’s responsible for Megan’s murder, since she riled him up before he met Megan that night. But Rachel recognizes... (full context)
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...feels free to figure out where she wants to be. She drives out to Holkham, Megan’s hometown, and visits the place where Megan and Libby are buried. At the gravesite, she... (full context)