“The bedroom is strange. Unfamiliar. I don’t know where I am, how I came to be here. I don’t know how I’m going to get home.”
Those are the terrified words of Christine upon waking at the beginning of the psychological thriller, Before I Go to Sleep. To complicate matters there’s an unknown male lying next to her and Christine’s immediate thought is she has had an illicit affair with a married man, so she immediately moves to the bathroom to collect her wits and discreetly leave. But the man named Ben is used to her dilemma because he is her husband, he says, and they have been married for twenty-two years, and that Christine who has anterograde amnesia experiences such horrors when she wakes up each and every new day.
Ben explains to her that she’d had “a bad accident,” suffering severe brain injuries when she was 29 years old. Most of the time she sees herself as a young adult but occasionally regresses to being a child living with her mom and dad. She is able to retain information during the waking hours but when she goes to sleep most of it goes away. Christine and Ben live in North London where he takes care of them financially and leaves her on her own when he heads out for work. He writes messages on an eraser board with questions like “laundry? walk? (take phone!) tv?” to help her guide through the day. Before he leaves, he patiently explains everything Christine will need for the day as well as giving her a cell phone that looks (due to technological advances since her mishap) like a kid’s toy to her. Ben promises to call and departs for work. A picture is quickly painted of a loving husband who has stuck to his vow of ’til death do us part. His presence is soothing and calibrates Christine’s jittered nerves.