Walter Water’s migraine led him to tears. He’d laid down, listened to an hour’s worth of whalesong, swallowed pink pills whole with happy juice; then went out into the garden, where the rampant swimming pool sent turquoise shocks, alert, intact, mercilessly across his beating brain. Poor Walter winced, went inside again, waited upright for relief from optic circus.

And outside, Agatha and Agnes (his girls, his bright roses, the fruit of his very own fruit) were splashing round the freshwater hose

– they were like diamonds laughing in the sun, said Walter –

Why would he not go out, admire the roses, the turquoise, the beauty of it all? Would he not nose around the garden, trim a shrub, collect a bloom or two? Alas – deceitful was the cheery windowpane – Walter only stood from stool to falter back again.

(In riper morning, Walter dreamt a delightful duet and awoke a-groping. Salty sweat stained the sofa-cushion roses. In the living room’s light, Walter groped in dark for some golden thread of memory, some thread uniting him with heaven…there had been twin girls, two rosy-cheeked cherubs, on either side of him…Walter wiped shining sweat from his head, imagining his yellow fingers to be not his own, merely rough gloves concealing rosy palms. Salty sweat stained the sofa-cushion roses.)

Then began Walter’s waterworks. From where he sat, the windowpane might well have been an empty screen, for Agnes and Agatha were lost to him. Walter cried himself out in the shady bedroom, then called his wife to fix lunch: white bed of bread, two bright tomatoes, boiled egg.