- Author: Louise Sharland
Book online «The Lake Louise Sharland (each kindness read aloud txt) 📖». Author Louise Sharland
1 London Bridge Street
London SE1 9GF
First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2021
Copyright © Louise Sharland 2021
Cover design © HarperCollinsPublishers 2021
Cover photographs © Nikaa/Trevillion Images (boy), DEEPOL by Plainpicture (background), Shutterstock.com (sky)
Louise Sharland asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
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Source ISBN: 9780008403331
Ebook Edition © March 2021 ISBN: 9780008403348
For my family
He that studieth revenge keepeth his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.
– John Milton
About the Author
About the Publisher
The small patch of sand and scrubland that borders the lake is nearly empty; just a woman and her young son skipping stones. A few metres out, a paddleboarder has paused his journey to take in the view. I try my best to appreciate the beauty, but everything about this place is shrouded in pain. I distract myself by unwrapping the spray of white lilies I have brought, leaning them against the small wooden bench that overlooks the water. I could leave it of course – not return every year as I do – move on – but Michael was my son; my only child. He deserves to be remembered.
Nearby, the child’s giggles drift on the breeze as he runs from his mother’s outstretched hand. ‘Sweetheart,’ she calls, now breathless and unable to keep up. ‘Don’t get your new trainers wet!’
On the water the paddleboarder resumes his tour, his long rhythmic strokes hypnotic, enticing. The mother stumbles. In the time it takes to right herself, her little boy has wandered knee-deep into the water. The sound of rotors calls my attention, and I look up, following the path of a grey bug across the sky. A military helicopter from the nearby Royal Navy air station.
‘Danny?’ The woman’s voice sounds frightened, far away. I scan the shore. Only she and I remain. Out on the lake, a piece of driftwood bobs and sinks. ‘Danny!’ Fear transforms into frenzy as she charges into the water. Her dungarees, soaked and weighted, pull her to her knees. Hearing her hysterical screams, the paddleboarder moves forward, searching the water for any sign of the child. I freeze; do nothing. I desperately want to lift my feet from where they’re weighted into the sand – run into the water and help – but some immense terror holds me back. Ever since Michael drowned I can’t even step into a bath.
‘I’ve found him!’ someone cries, and suddenly I am free. The paddleboarder races towards the shore, the boy’s frail, limp body draped across his arms.
‘Put him down,’ I yell, stripping off my jacket and throwing it on the grass. The woman regards me suspiciously. ‘I’m a nurse!’ And within seconds I’m forcing air into the little boy’s waterlogged lungs, and gently kneading his small, immobile heart.
It’s always the same: first the darkness, the struggle; and then the unbearable choking feeling as I desperately try to kick my way through fetid water towards that tiny pinprick of light. Something keeps dragging me down: two iron fists, clamped around my ankles, pulling hard. When I look back into the muddy depths, I see a face: bleak, death-vacant eyes staring back up at me.
‘Kate, are you all right?’ I feel someone tugging at my shoulder. ‘Kate!’
I turn to see my husband Adam sitting up in bed beside me, the soft glow of a Kindle illuminating his handsome features. ‘You’ve been sitting there staring at nothing for the last twenty minutes.’
He reaches over and turns on the bedside lamp. ‘Are you upset with me?’
‘Upset?’ It takes a few seconds to reset myself. ‘Why would I be upset?’
‘About cancelling our plans.’
‘Of course not. It wasn’t your fault there was a major RTA on the motorway.’
‘I mean, I know how much you wanted to see that play.’
I take a shaky breath and reach for a tissue from the bedside table. ‘It wasn’t that, Adam. Yesterday was the anniversary.’
‘For some stupid reason I thought going out might help.’
Adam slips his arm around my shoulders and pulls me in close. ‘I’m so sorry.’ The bristles on his chin rub against my cheek. ‘I should have remembered.’
‘You were in A&E until midnight.’
‘I still should have remembered.’ He turns to me, his expression earnest. ‘If you like, I can take you to the cemetery tomorrow?’
His fingers tighten on my arm. ‘The lake then?’ I bow my head. ‘You’ve been there too? You know how I feel about you going to the lake on your own. It’s not good for you.’ There is concern in his voice. Or is it disapproval?
‘I just went to lay some flowers, that’s all.’
‘That’s not the point. You know what your therapist said—’
‘Please, Adam, just leave it.’
Adam pulls away slightly, surprised at my resolve. It’s not often