I am brushing my teeth and get interrupted halfway through. With my toothbrush held in my mouth I fall and it knocks out several of my teeth, bloodily.

With my legs in stirrups at the doctor’s he says, This will not hurt, but it does hurt.

The television shows the latest disaster. Melting, drought. You do not say, It will all be OK.

Lounging in a hot bathtub of water, the ceiling gives way. I cascade through, naked, into my neighbours’ kitchen, where they are eating. I die of embarrassment but also literally.

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

The child steps on to a rusty nail. Or puts dog shit in her mouth. Or swallows glass. Every day, a new twist.

In the supermarket, troubling gaps on the shelves. No milk. Handwritten signs say BACK IN STOCK SOON. The girl scanning my shopping is doleful.

I take the shortcut through the alley I never use and a shape moves in the shadows, coming towards me.

My shoelace catches in an escalator, my whole leg pulled down into sharp teeth, mangled.

A handbook on surviving emergencies is posted through our front door. My partner hides it on top of the sink. You don’t need to read that.

A rat runs across our bed in the night, dense as a rabbit on my stomach.

I watch my cervix on a screen back at the hospital, a rosy sun. It is spotted with what looks like mould. The doctor says, You do not have to look. But I do.

A vast and disastrous something. The landscape reconfigured. The army brought in to knock on all the doors, to tell us not to be alarmed.

The rat runs across the child’s bed too.

I never live in a foreign country or seize the day. One day I wake up and realize it’s too late.

The house is struck by lightning, which carries down the television aerial and explodes the screen.

When I come home drunk I leave the keys in the door, and we are robbed and killed.

The city is too dangerous.We have to move. The roads are jammed with people doing the same.

In a strange hotel somewhere south I say I love you into the silence but he does not return it.

The child becomes very sick. There are no doctors left. We sponge her forehead with rainwater gathered in an empty bottle and try to remain calm.

I fail everybody who loves me and always will.

There will never be anything more beautiful than that one clear morning in a city in Germany, years ago, where we walked the streets for hours. Which is to say, that was the best it got for us.

We have to bury the child in the depths of a forest. We are hardly strong enough to do it. The ground is too hard. I have not kept the family together.

I slice my finger down to the bone. I bleed in a way that doesn’t stop. I am bleeding from everywhere.

You leave in the night. I walk on alone with my rucksack of dirty clothes, drinking from streams. I die from a water-borne parasite, throwing up until my face is the colour of wine.

The siren rings out against the countryside and there is nobody else around to comfort me, not even the army.

Somewhere beyond the siren there is a pack of wild dogs. I have never seen them but I know they are there. One day they rip me apart.

A man who is not you tells me to lie down in the festering dirt. I have to cover my face, muffle my breathing. I pretend not to be there, thinking only about wet leaves mulching under my palms, between my fingers.

We do not bury the child deep enough and the ghost comes back every night.

The sky is a strange and curdled thing. The incandescent are of it behind my eyes squeezed shut. Then, later on, the rain clumped with ash. I am not allowed to lie down under it. I must keep walking, and walking, and walking.

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