Perfect Family

Perfect Family by Pam Lewis Read Free Book Online

Book: Perfect Family by Pam Lewis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pam Lewis
follow the contour deeper and deeper, where the plant life began. Maybe a hundred feet beyond that was the raft, anchored in deep water by a chain that connected to a large concrete slab with an ironhook countersunk into it. She had always thought of the space between the shore and the anchor as a deepening triangle, theirs to use, their play area, well delineated. Safe.
    One of the divers surfaced and signaled. Randy walked down to the water’s edge to talk to the diver. Then the diver returned to the water. “I’m afraid he’s found something,” Randy said to Tinker and her father.
    Her father’s face had a hard set to it, and he was biting his lip for courage. Randy went to the van and talked to a man Tinker hadn’t noticed earlier. She heard the crackling of a police radio. She could hear voices but not what they were saying. She felt so scared, she thought her legs might collapse. The rest of it happened in slow motion. All four divers came to the surface. Her father fell to the ground. Randy helped him to his feet and waved smelling salts under his nose. Her father refused the chair they brought over. Tinker sat in it. She had no strength in her legs.
    The divers had something with them, were swimming it slowly toward shore. It was Pony. She lay facedown, her back and shoulders breaking the surface. Her skin was gray. Her hair looked almost black, and for a moment Tinker hoped it was somebody else. Somebody with black hair. From somewhere a stretcher had come. They moved it out onto the water. They lifted Pony onto it. The air felt painful on Tinker’s skin. Her perceptions felt fractured. The water too black, the sky too bright.
    The men moved in the slow motion of a dream. Pony was naked. Her head was bent. Fix it, Tinker wanted to say. Fix her head. Her father was up to his waist in the water now, in his clothes. He must have gone in. Then the men were lifting him up, as if in a baptism. He had collapsed again and gone under. One of the men had him by the elbow. Her father’s coat was plastered to his body. Tinker still couldn’t move. She was in the dream where you want to run but can’t. They carried the stretcher to the beach and laid it on the grass. Her father said, “Yes.” Tinker stood up. And the next thing she knew, she was there, looking down at Pony. They’d put a blanketover Pony’s body but left her face exposed. Tinker dropped to her knees on the sand. Pony was so wet. She blotted Pony’s face with the sleeve of her shirt. Water was pooled in Pony’s mouth. The side of her head was raw red.
    â€œWhat happened?” Tinker looked up at Randy, at the divers, and then down again. Pony’s eyes were open. A milky color, not their usual brownish green. Her hair was sheared off on the left side where the skin was red.
    Randy said something to one of the divers, who stepped up. “I’m sorry, ma’am. Sir.” He looked down at his feet. “She was pretty deep,” he said. “Her hair was caught on the chain for the anchor, pretty deep. We had to cut her hair to free her.”
    â€œBut she wasn’t allowed,” Tinker shouted. The rule, the rule, the rule , she kept thinking. Mother’s rule . They had to wear swim caps if they were doing anything with the raft. Their mother insisted. Long hair can become wrapped around things. Why can’t you ever listen, Pony? Tinker thought. Why don’t you ever bloody listen?
    Randy helped her to her feet and across the lawn. There seemed to be men everywhere. Two more cars had arrived. People were in the house. Others were going through the sand on the beach. Somebody was talking to her father. They waved her over. The man was a cop.
    â€œThere will be an autopsy,” her father said to her. “In Burlington. This is Officer Rivers.”
    Officer Rivers said that the medical examiner would determine the cause of death. He had some questions. He knew this

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