The house by the lake (1)

Soon after we moved next to the lake Brigitte began talking about family. How easily we slipped into that way of thinking—the pair of us with a kid or two yet still wondering about being bound up together.

In spring water-birds came to nest. When we first noticed the swans they were pulling reeds together, making a kind of platform. We stood arm in arm in the morning sunshine watching.

That night Brigitte did the test and our vague thoughts of children became as certain as two blue lines.

The nesting swans each tended to the other’s needs and the safety of their eggs. We observed their progress as Brigitte’s belly swelled. In early summer we spotted three grey balls of down. We watched their first outings on the lake, a cluster of squeaks adrift in a mist of summer rain.

The cygnets flourished, learned to forage for themselves. Adult feathers formed. As our daughter grew strong within Brigitte, we watched the birds, taking assurance from their success and our kindred purpose with them.

It was nearing autumn and Brigitte was resting when, on an afternoon walk, I came across the aftermath of the dog attack.