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 Scott forever. She is dreading having to go out to therapy later this afternoon. After talking with Dr. Abdic about her restlessness, her marriage, and the loss of her brother, Megan feels that she’s getting close to “the whole truth” about her past—particularly what happened to her years ago when she was with a man named Mac, a friend of her Ben’s. Megan admits to feeling relief that Abdic can never tell anyone about her secrets because of doctor-patient confidentiality. She feels badly telling Abdic—whom she’s begun to call Kamal—things that she isn’t comfortable telling Scott.
Even though Megan is intensely restless and hungry for escape, there is also a part of her that wants to feel safe and settled. This profound tension within Megan is something that Hawkins will tease out as Megan’s arc develops and Megan finds herself feeling and wanting contradictory things: to stay and to leave, to tell the truth and to continue hiding.
In therapy, Megan tells Kamal about how she met Mac while living in Ipswich as a runaway after Ben’s death. She was just 15, and she and Mac started having sex when she turned 16. They lived together in an old cottage in the countryside, cut off from civilization—there was an old abandoned railway track by the house, and sometimes Megan would wake in the night thinking she could hear trains. Megan tells Kamal that she stayed with Mac until she was 19. Kamal asks what made her leave, and she tells Kamal that Mac broke her heart—though this is not the full truth. After returning home from therapy, Megan uses her computer to try to look Mac (whose full name is Craig McKenzie) up on the internet, but she can’t find him.
As Megan begins delving deeper into her past, trains symbolize Megan’s restlessness and desire for escape as a young girl moving in with the friend of her older brother—the same feelings she’s experiencing now. The closer Megan edges to honesty about her past, however, the more she tries to censor herself. It seems that the prospect of confronting her memories has become painful and dangerous to her over the years.
Friday, February 8, 2013. Megan takes a morning walk through the woods and spies a flock of magpies. Scott is away taking a course in Sussex until tonight. Before he left, Megan told him that she was headed to the cinema with Tara again. In a recent therapy session, Megan told Kamal about Scott’s need to keep tabs on her—and the fight he picked when he realized she’d been researching someone named Craig McKenzie on the internet. Kamal warned her that Scott’s behavior was tantamount to emotional abuse. Megan laughed and shrugged it off, insisting that she didn’t care about Scott’s snooping on her computer.
Scott’s jealous, possessive nature to raises suspicions about his involvement in Megan’s imminent disappearance. Megan, in spite of her wild and restless nature, doesn’t see Scott’s desire to control her and track her actions and whereabouts as a threat. This seems odd to Abdic, and Hawkins positions Megan’s indifference as a missed warning sign about Scott’s dark potential.
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, she kissed him on the lips. Kamal begged her not to do something they’d both regret, so she left. Now, however, Megan fears that that she will never soothe her restlessness or find what she’s looking for. On the way back home from the woods, Megan runs into Anna pushing her baby in a carriage.
Megan is developing feelings for Kamal—but it is unclear even to her whether she genuinely cares for him or whether her attraction to him is just another symptom of her rootlessness and dissatisfaction. When Megan runs into Anna and her baby, she is reminded again of how her current problems prevent her from becoming the ideal wife and mother.
Megan takes a nap and wakes up in the middle of the afternoon feeling feverish and guilty. She remembers her lover leaving her bed in the middle of the night last night, insisting that this time was the last time. She recalls laughing, knowing again that it wasn’t true. Now, Megan feels uneasy and unsettled. She wants Scott to come home—she feels that she needs him to ground her.
Megan doesn’t fully want to escape her life—she just doesn’t know how to exist within it. Megan seems to care for Scott, and there is perhaps part of her that does long to embody the characteristics that are expected of her as a wife. But at the same time, she longs to pull away from or even sabotage those simple comforts through infidelity and deception.