A family was struck by tragedy when their young son drowned while on holiday. Two-year-old Caspar Lewis fell into a lake in full view of his ten-year-old sister, Isabel. He was rushed to hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. Local police said that the death appeared to be a tragic accident. Last night, his parents, Michael and Barbara, were being comforted by relatives.
It had been so easy to drown Caspar.
She hadn't planned it, for she could never have known that her parents would leave her to “keep an eye on him” for a few minutes. And in any case, drowning wouldn’t have been her preferred method of disposing of her little brother. She had dreamed of strangling him, of placing a pillow over his sleeping face and sitting on it, of perhaps pushing him down the stairs. But drowning had never occurred to her. In any case, until now, she had never really intended to put any of her ideas into practice.
But then suddenly, there it was. The perfect opportunity. She and Caspar, alone on the jetty, watching the boats
'Look, Casp! Look! Fish!”
And he had leaned over, squatting in his pale blue dungarees, his bobbing blond curls (oh, how she had hated those curls!) reflected in the pale surface of the lake.
Such a little push; such a small splash. And he was gone. There was no fuss, no scream, no bobbing back to the surface, no sign of any struggle (afterwards, they had said that his body had become caught in reeds); just a single starfish hand, raised as though in valediction before disappearing altogether in the murky depths of the lake. Caspar's small, perfect life had ended in a small, perfect death. Neat. Unobtrusive. Almost apologetic.
She had waited a few minutes, just to be sure, and then she had run screaming back up the bank.
'Quick! Come quick! Caspar's fallen in the lake!'
It was as simple as that.
Her parents had blamed themselves . They shouldn't have left the two of them together; it hadn't been fair. She was too young to be responsible for so young a child. What could they have been thinking of! Poor Isabel. Poor little Bel. She would carry that terrible memory with her for the rest of her life. They must be strong. They must keep going. For Isabel.
After a while, it was easy to imagine that it really had been an accident; that it had had nothing to do with her at all. Caspar had stumbled and fallen; it had been nobody’s fault. And her guilt had sunk, like Caspar's tiny body, and been submerged in the soothing waters of the myth which had been woven around it.
Why had she hated him so much? She had begged and pleaded for a baby brother or sister, perhaps safe in the certainty that none would be forthcoming, but when he had finally arrived, she had been overwhelmed with jealousy. She grew to hate her perfect little brother with his perfect manners, his blue eyes, his seraphic smile, and those blond curls, Wherever they went, Caspar had turned heads and attracted compliments. He was a clever, child, too. He knew all his colours and could count up to fifty, while in those days, Isabel had struggled at school. He even had more names than she did. Caspar Llewellyn St.John Lewis. That was a name that was going places. Whereas she, plain Isabel Mary, wasn't going anywhere.
Once, she had asked why Caspar had been blessed with all those names, and been told that her mother had “had everything taken away” after his birth, and there would be no more babies. So it seemed that all the names that might have been given to future brothers had been lavished upon Caspar, so that none should be wasted. She had never asked about girls' names. She couldn’t imagine that her parents would ever have wanted another girl.
And so the memory of that afternoon had become clouded, and had finally disappeared. If she thought of it at all (and she tried not to), she had a vague recollection of Caspar running off, of herself shouting after him, getting to the jetty too late to save him. In her own mind, she became as much of a victim as Caspar himself; the older sister who had been the luckless witness, unable to reach her little brother in time. The coroner's verdict had been “accidental death”, so that was what it had been. A tragic accident. It had had nothing to do with Isabel at all.
She wasn't to know that one day - one far-off day - she would be tempted to kill again.