The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh Read Online (FREE)
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Grace, Lia, Sky
Once we have a father, but our father dies without us noticing.
It’s wrong to say that we don’t notice. We are just absorbed in ourselves, that afternoon when he dies. Unseasonable heat. We squabble, as usual. Mother comes out on the terrace and puts a stop to it by raising her hand, a swift motion against the sky. Then we spend some time lying down with lengths of muslin over our faces, trying not to scream, and so he dies with none of us women bearing witness, none of us accompanying him.
It is possible we drove him away, that the energy escaped our bodies despite our attempts to stifle it and became a smog clinging around the house, the forest, the beach. That was where we last saw him. He put a towel on the ground and lay down parallel to the sea, flat on the sand. He was resting, letting sweat gather along his top lip, his bare head.
The interrogation begins at dinner when he fails to turn up. Mother pushes the food and plates from the table in her agitation, one sweep of the arm, and we search the endless rooms of the house. He is not in the kitchen, soaking fish in a tub of brine, or pulling up withered potatoes outside, inspecting the soil. He is not on the terrace at the top of the house, surveying the still surface of the pool three floors below, and he is certainly not in the pool itself, for the sound of his splashing is always violent enough to carry. He is not in the lounge, nor the ballroom, the piano untouched, the velvet curtains heavy with undisturbed dust. Moving up the staircase again, a spine through the centre of the house, we check our rooms individually, our bathrooms, though we know he will not be there. From our scattered formation we come together to search the garden, search deeper, sticking long branches into the pond’s green murk. Eventually we are out on the beach and we realize one of the boats has gone too – a furrow in the sand where it has been pushed out.
For a moment we think he has gone for supplies, but then we remember he was not wearing the protective white suit, we did not do the leaving ceremony, and we look towards the rounded glow of the horizon, the air peach-ripe with toxicity. And Mother falls to her knees.
Our father had a big and difficult body. When he sat down, his swimming shorts rode up and exposed the whiteness of his thigh where it was usually covered. If you killed him, it would be like pushing over a sack of meat. It would require someone much stronger than us.