He fetched a large bucket and placed it out on the balcony in the rain.
‘Free water,’ Dad said.
‘Yeah but water’s always free…unless you buy it,’ I replied.
‘This water’s better. Trust me.’
Staying with dad was always an adventure. He did weird things like put tea towels in the bathroom and use garden tools in the kitchen. Once he made a salad with two small shovels because he couldn’t find the salad mixers. None of his plates matched, and he let us use the coffee table as a footrest.
The last time we saw him, he’d just gone outside to check the water in the bucket. It had rained all night – we stayed up late in the fort we’d built between the couches listening to it, flinching every time the lightning lit up the room, and bracing ourselves for the rumble of thunder. Mum waited at the door while we said bye and got our things.
‘Kids!’ Dad called from the balcony. ‘Come see this.’
‘Mick, we need to go. Daniel has a dentist appointment in ten minutes.’
‘Just a sec, Luce. Just let me show them this.’
We walked through the sliding door onto the balcony. The air cut through our clothes like ice, but the sun warmed our backs.
‘Look at that,’ Dad said.
In the bucket, a brown-speckled duckling swam in circles, making chirpy-quack sounds.
‘Might be missing its mum,’ Dad said.
‘Or its dad,’ I replied.
[a 10-minute writing exercise using the prompt ‘He fetched a large…’. From Pilot 2016: A Diary for Writers]