The Water, Humming

Chapter 2: Margot

Jack will have to fix the gate, Margot said to herself as she stood, waist deep, staring down at the jewellery scattered across the blue pool floor like unearthed treasure. Roland was a good swimmer, Sophie had taken care of that but she had also let him run loose throughout the house. Margot felt that it was too dangerous for her five-year-old grandson to swim on his own. The old woman moved beneath the water, scooping the chains and rings back into the old music box. Until now, she didn’t realise how much jewellery Sophie had. It was mostly cheap costume stuff but there was an awful lot of it. She felt bitter, remembering how the young woman had accused her of being a spendthrift. A stray silver chain was sticking out of the filter, the one Margot had bought the girl, although she was sure that Sophie had never worn it except on that one birthday. Margot told her she could exchange it for something else but Sophie had insisted that she loved it. Such a waste, Margot thought as she pulled at it, snapping the chain. The action sent a sharp pain up her back, causing her to cry out under the water. It was like someone had punched her in the kidneys. Her shirt drew tight around her throat and she thought about how Sophie had drowned in that same water. Slowly, she pulled herself up into standing position, desperate to breathe leaving the necklace behind. She took a staggered breath, angry at being in pain and angry with Sophie.

If Margot had drowned then, she wondered if people would feel sorry for her? She imagined herself bloated, face down as the neighbours stood watching her float with the worn elastic of her underpants cutting into her fleshy back. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw her neighbour, Rosemary, having a stickybeak but she didn’t have time to worry, she had to eat something. She was starving and her guests were about to arrive. They wouldn’t expect her to eat. It wouldn’t be considered appropriate.