Amber M

Premium Writer | London

Amber’s debut novel WILD PETS (Faber) was the Guardian’s ‘Book of the week’. Currently, she writes for The New Yorker & the London Review of Books. She has interviewed Grenfell survivors, written about mental health, and ghostwritten profile pieces for global CEOs. She has a BA (First) in English Lit. from Cambridge University and an MFA from Columbia in New York. Her super-power is listening with empathy and emboldening people to tell their stories. Likes: Indian food, reading, post-it notes.
As a StoryTerrace writer, Amber interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below

Mango Stone

If I try to pluck a single memory from my childhood, I’m deluged with images but no dates, or times, or facts. My mother reminds me about the time at Disneyland; she only looked away for a moment, but when she turned back, I was walking along the bottom of the swimming pool, stubbornly convinced that I was swimming. My brother reminds me about the time I looked him straight in the eye before setting fire to the decorative balloons topping his birthday cake. My father tells how I insisted on spilling the contents of the spice-rack into a bowl and stood there, mumbling spells, staining my fingers with turmeric.

I can imagine these things happening, vaguely, like hearing underwater, but I imagine things that didn’t happen all the time. My mouth is more reliable; my taste buds are true. Our annual visits to Delhi blur into one, but I remember every Alphonso.

The stone was meant to be a prize; a treat for the youngest. At the first chance, I snatched one from the wooden crate, pressing my fingers into the bruise, inhaling the sweetness with that cold lingering note of pine. I’d rather have had the cheeks my brother and cousin got. They sliced criss-crosses into the flesh before turning the skin inside-out and scooping out the orange cubes with a teaspoon. Eyeing their fruit hedgehogs, I accepted the messy stone greedily. I gnawed the circumference, juice running down my chin; the stone getting smaller and smaller until I had sucked all the sweetness out.

Shadow, our Labrador, trotted plumply towards me, trying to lick my hands, his tail wagging his whole body. Springing up from the table, I chased my brother around the garden, threatening to wipe my sticky hands on his T-shirt. I never caught up with him, though sometimes he slowed down to let me think I might. When we jumped into the swimming pool, sunblock, juice and dust made an iridescent sheen on the surface.

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