Let the water do the work
‘Let the water do the work’, he said, as the hot water covered the dishes in the stainless steel sink. He thought this was an efficient way to do the hard bits of the washing up, but often they just sat there, a stack of oysters, the water losing heat until the forgotten crockery lay in a stone-cold sinkful. Then he’d have to empty and refill it, because everyone knows you shouldn’t wash up in cold water.
Mindful of the water waste, he often thought of reusing the water in the kettle that had already been boiled too many times to make good tea. Or better, the water from the tumble dryer, which drained into a plastic reservoir that needed to be pulled out and emptied. Because this water had been reclaimed from the clothes, it always seemed more valuable than tap water and he often put his nose to the reservoir’s mouth to see if a difference could be detected.
But most of the time he just tipped it down the sink, often over the dishes which were still there waiting to be cleaned.
‘Let the water do the work’, he said, as he hauled the body up the ladder dragged it into the gulley between the gabled roofs. The rain was persistent and his neck, knees and cuffs were soaked, and the rest would be soon. Exhausted, he let it lay as it had landed, one heel under the roof edge, one arm over it, pointing at a missing tile further up the roofline. The rhythm of rain, sun and wind would catalyse the decomposition process and the birds would do their bit.
Back on the ground, he looked up at the roof and thought about how the gulley collected and routed rainwater to the guttering, and whether the body would dam it up if the rain didn’t stop, the roof eventually caving in and the water cascading through the interior onto the dishes in the kitchen sink.
But he took the ladder back to its place against the garage wall, and watched the four wet pools forming under its feet and his.
‘Let the water do the work’, he said, as he watched the waves punch the beach from the cliff-top. The coast would be reclaimed by the sea in twenty years and with it the house – because everyone knows that you can’t hold back the sea, even if you’re a king.
If the local council’s rearguard efforts to bulldoze the shingle up and down the beach into defensive terraces slowed the sea’s progress for a few years, no matter: in two hundred years the council would be long gone. The house would be a ruin, its timbers fallen in, and grass would cover the worktops, poplar and alder rooted in the front room. The sea would be a metre higher then and just as covetous, would clasp the wreck of the house, the bones on the roof and the dishes in the corroded sink, all of it to its bosom.
But he was patient, and turned back towards the house. Behind him the surf ate another centimetre of sandstone cliff. On the roof, one of the body’s hands cupped a pool of evaporating rainwater. And in the sink, the plates waited, half-submerged.
By Rod, 8 March, 2006; direct link.