The Water Woman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

The magic and reality of what water can do.

The Water Woman_Booksie large.jpg


Boyce woke up to the sounds of his parents arguing again. He had lost count of the times that had happened during his short life. Many times he asked himself whether his friends had the same situation in their homes. The family had many problems which were anathema to the child, who didn’t understand anything of what he heard.

The family was composed of Lyle, the man of the house, Dory his wife, and Boyce their ten-year-old son, who lived in a village on the south west coast of England famous for everything related to water. There were abundant rivers, the sea itself, and some lakes. There were also the heavy rains that fell just when everyone was expecting dry weather. There were two pubs in the village, one was called The Water Woman and the other one was The Headless Man. The origin of The Water Woman was due to that in heavy rains the local waterfall became an attraction for photographers and the media. When a rainbow fell on the waterfall, the figure of a woman was to be clearly seen.

The water level in the rivers rose and the banks were broken, and the whole countryside was an enormous inland sea. The pubs did no business during the rains, and the enforced stay at home with all the members of families being under one roof, was almost too much to bear. That was when the arguing over silly trifles and money took place. Marriages broke apart and children spent a lot of time crying and watching television. The blue and pink bicycles of the children were not to be seen on the streets due to the heavy rainfalls, they were stashed away in garages or even in houses where there was no garage. Life was a fight against the cold and damp, and the invasion of houses by water.

The last fierce argument between Boyce’s parents was when the floods were the worst they had been for twenty years, and everyone’s nerves were on edge. A depression hung over the whole area, making even the closest relations and friends touchy with each other. After hearing the screaming and shouting going on for hour after hour, the boy finally fell asleep.


When he got up and went downstairs the following morning there was total silence.

Lyle told Boyce that his mother had gone off in a huff, and had no idea when she would be back. Boyce felt sad at the loss of his mother, but relieved at the thought there would be no shouting or arguing while she was gone.


The police came and went to the cottage where father and son lived.  After some years, Dory’s disappearance was accepted as having run off with or without another man. There were no birthday cards or Christmas cards from Dory, or even her parents, Wayland and Rita, who in the end had to accept that their daughter had ‘done a bunk’, as it was called. Therefore Boyce was brought up by his father and his grandparents, and was a happy child in spite of his mother’s absence.


Some years passed, and Lyle got himself a lady friend, Patricia, but with no view to marriage as Dory’s existence had never been put into doubt. As far as everyone was concerned, the police included, Dory was still alive and well.


Wayland and Rita went on a cruise to see places as far away as they could from the village. They enjoyed themselves no end with the little trips on land and the good food and rest. The sadness of not knowing the whereabouts of their daughter faded, but didn’t disappear completely. Many times they were reminded of Dory when they saw women who would be of similar age as their daughter. They never spoke about Dory to anyone. There was no point, speaking about her wouldn’t make her return.

Many passengers on cruises get quite friendly, even to the point of exchanging phone numbers and addresses. This is what happened to Rita and Wayland. When on their round-the-world cruise they met up with Finn and Maxine, who came from another village not too far from where they lived. That alone was enough to let them feel easy about exchanging details. Finn and Maxine liked dancing, which was an encouragement for Rita and Wayland to get up and make the most of what they were able to do with their feet. The cruise passed much better than Dory’s parents had thought possible. Finn was a man who liked to surround himself with lots of other people, and that gave them the courage to do things they normally wouldn’t have thought of doing. Rita and Wayland never went dancing, but with Finn there, they danced, and so did others. The gigantic white vessel docked and the weary but happy passengers made their way down the steps and into waiting cars and coaches to return to their pick-up points.


“Hello, Boyce. This is Grandpa speaking. We’re back, and have something for you and your dad. How’s everything? We’ve got lots to tell you. Why don’t you come round and see us as soon as possible.”

“Grandpa, hello. I’m glad to know you had a good holiday. The rain’s been up to no good again, and Dad says we’ll have to do something about the drains as they are overflowing.”

“Well, come round when you feel like it - weather permitting of course. Bye.” Wayland put the phone down and went to the kitchen where Rita was preparing the evening meal. Later on he mentioned the news about the blocked drains at Lyle’s house.

“I’m not surprised his drains are overflowing, he doesn’t put himself out much as far as the house is concerned. Dory was always complaining about the lack of interest. When shall we invite Finn and Maxine round, or shall we wait till they invite us?”

“We’ll start the ball rolling, and then see how things go,” Wayland said.


Three days later Finn and Maxine arrived at Wayland and Rita’s house. Wayland kept vigil at the living-room window till he saw them park and get out. He wanted to see what model car they had, in order to be able to clock their wealth. Wayland always did this, as he didn’t want to get involved with any ‘low-lifes’, as he put it. “On cruises you never know whether people are what they seem to be, or if they are playing a part.”

He had been the same with Lyle when he started courting Dory, and he would be the same with any girls that Boyce would bring home. Wayland was hot on the scent of any posers after being the victim of one, when a young man had managed to con him out of a substantial sum of money.

The overpowering couple was ushered into the dining-room, where Wayland served them a dry sherry. The drink had a loosening effect on Maxine, who began to talk non-stop.

“I’ve never heard your wife talk so fast. I thought she was quiet,” Wayland commented.

Finn looked at Wayland, and said, “She is, till she’s had a drink, and then she lets it all out.”

“What does she let out?” asked Rita.

“Whatever she feels like,” Finn answered.

“Well, that’s the last drink she’ll get out of me,” Wayland responded.

The rest of the evening passed very easily, but somehow or other Maxine managed to get some more alcohol inside her. From the loud snores issuing from Maxine when dinner was over and she was in the armchair, it was deduced she was fast asleep.

“Who’s the pretty girl in the photo?” Finn asked.

“That’s our daughter, Dory,” Rita said, as she handed out the cups of coffee.

“Does she live round here?” Finn asked.

“No, she doesn’t. She moved away,” Wayland replied.

Finn, on seeing that his hosts were not up to talking about their daughter, made no more references to Dory.


Dory had left Lyle and Boyce, and she thought that she had found a safe haven for herself away from her maternal duties and arguments with her husband, when she met Serge in a distant village some months later. Serge, a French petty crook, had romanced her from the moment they met. Lyle had always looked after Dory in spite of the arguments, and she hadn’t left him and Boyce empty handed, she had cleared out just one of the bank accounts and had taken her jewellery with her. Serge’s only interest in her was that of her jewellery’s being fake or real, and how much spending money she had. If Serge hadn’t been foreign, she wouldn’t have taken any notice of him, but flirting accompanied by an accent is far more attractive. And so she fell.


Not long after meeting Serge and becoming obsessed with him, Dory saw him arrive at his flat with a pretty young girl in tow. Dory ran up to him and asked him to return the money she had lent him. Serge pushed her away, and said, “At your age you should have been more with it as regards men. You’d better return to your husband and son.”

Dory stared at him horror stricken, “You used me. You led me to believe we had something together.”

“We did till you gave me the money, and now we don’t. Come on, Nayara, let’s get inside away from this hysterical woman.”

Dory watched as Serge and his new flame, Nayara, entered his flat.


That day was the beginning of Dory’s descent into a world of days passed in alcoholic oblivion. She never knew when to stop drinking, and the only jobs she was able to find were the ones in pubs where people were taken on easily, and given the sack even more easily. Dory didn’t serve drinks but helped out preparing food, and generally helping out with cleaning. Dory had run away to a village that was nowhere near where she had come from, and so it was that she was able to live out a miserable existence without any members of her family finding out. When her behaviour got too scandalous, she changed village, and went even further away from her origins.

At the time after her parents had been and gone on the cruise, Dory was working and living in a pub-restaurant. The owner was a delinquent, but for some strange reason he took a liking to her. Perhaps it was because she was so needy. Stan, the owner and Dory’s new boss, also dabbled in drugs and stolen goods. He was not the best sort of person to be associated with, but Dory, in her physical and psychological state at that time, felt grateful for the room she had and with it the job.


Time went ticking by, and Boyce got the idea into his head to look for the origin of The Water Woman and The Headless Man pub signs. He still thought about his mother from time to time, but at times he was angry with her for what she had done, and for not getting in touch during the intervening years. Boyce went to the pub and asked the owner, “Where does the name The Water Woman come from?”

The man stared at Boyce, and said, “According to my information, the name refers to the waterfall when it’s overflowing and a rainbow shines on it, and the face and body of a woman are to be clearly seen.”

“Have you ever seen this happen?”

“Yes, it can be seen at the moment a rainbow shines on it, which is after it rains. As it rains here so frequently, it is easily seen. If you don’t believe me, take a look for yourself the next time it rains.”


Boyce took the advice of the pub owner and went to have a close look at the waterfall the next time it rained. He had his camera with him and waited till the rain had stopped and a rainbow appeared and shone directly onto the waterfall. The image of a woman could be clearly seen against the darkness of the rocks and the cave behind the cascade of water. Boyce took several photos and then returned home. The next stop would be The Headless Man where he hoped to find a juicier story.


The Headless Man was an historic figure, but the local legend was that the painter hadn’t finished the sign. The owner was more helpful that time, “The Headless Man refers to a man whose picture was painted to shame him. The man in question was a local farmer who treated his workers very badly, and one of the girls was found dead at the crossroads on the far side of the village from here.”

“Why is this man on the sign and without a face?” Boyce asked.

“The idea behind the sign was to shame him so that everyone could see his face. The original name of the pub was to have been named Farmer Lark, but when his shameful life was brought to the attention of the village, the painter, and the then owner, decided to remove the head, so that the original model remained nameless and headless. They say the woman in the water was one of his victims. Therefore, if that’s true, maybe a dead woman’s corpse lies behind the waterfall.”

Boyce wasn’t too convinced about that last piece of information, preferring to remain with the one about the rainbow effect on the water.


Finn visited different pubs with his friends. Maxine never accompanied him on those pub jaunts, preferring to stay at home and watch her favourite programmes on television. The motive behind changing pubs so often, was so that the men could play cards and go in for illegal gambling.


One evening they arrived at the pub where Dory was working. Finn said not a word about recognising Wayland’s daughter to his friends. He noticed, which wasn’t difficult, that she was not the smiling girl in the photo in her parents’ house. Dory was sweeping the corridor floor, so Finn had no possibility of speaking to her. A while later that night he told his friends he wanted to change pubs and after a couple of drinks they went off to another one nearby to play poker.


Maxine was in her night attire when Finn got home. He said, “Turn down the volume a moment, please.”

Maxine did as he asked, and then Finn told her how he had seen Dory in the pub a short time before.

“Do you think her parents know about this?” Maxine asked.

“I shouldn’t think so for one minute,” Finn said. “They gave me the impression that she had gone far away, and here she is in a village not far from here. What should we do, tell them or not?”

Maxine thought, and then said, “It’s better we don’t say anything just in case they know, but would rather that nobody else knew till they feel like informing everyone.”

So the strange pair decided to maintain silent.


The one person who refused to remain silent was, Patricia, who was forever going on about getting married and having a child. Lyle said that he wanted a nice quiet life and not to have to think about raising another child. Patricia called him all sorts of names which left Lyle cold.

“We don’t know what happened to Dory. I can’t marry you, and that’s final. Dory’s still alive. I know it, so don’t keep on about getting married. It’s not going to happen, and that’s final. What’s wrong with what we have? There are no responsibilities and we enjoy ourselves, don’t we? At least I do,” Lyle told Patricia when she had been trying to batter him into a straight answer.

“How long are you going to wait for her? In all the time she’s been gone there’s been neither sight nor sound of her.”

“If you’re not willing to wait till she appears, then we’d better finish this now. However hard you try, I’m not going to give in on this matter.”

That evening they parted company, amicably enough.


Boyce looked up on his laptop any information there was about the water woman. The result was that there were several stories about the origin. All the stories he already knew, so that wasn’t much help. The only thing left to him, was to discover the secret of the water woman.

The following day, it rained, and as soon as the sun came out and a rainbow appeared, the image of the woman showed up on the cascade as it always did. Boyce rang up the local newspaper, and they told him that it was due to something in the rock formation behind the waterfall that caused the image. Boyce wasn’t convinced, but accepted that as fact.


After some thought, Finn did get in touch with Wayland, and told him he thought he had seen Dory working in a pub in another village. Wayland asked, “Can we go to this place to see Dory, or what might be her look-alike?”

“Yes, let’s go now, and get this over and done with,” Finn said.


Finn drove them to the pub where he had seen Dory working, and they walked in. Dory was not in sight when they entered, but Stan was.

“There was a young lady sweeping the corridor the other evening when I came with some friends,” explained Finn.

“Yes, that would be Dory. Do you know her?”

“I’m Wayland, Dory is my daughter. She ran off some years ago, and we have had no news of her since then. Has she been here long?”

Stan gave both men a good hard look before answering, “I found Dory in a very bad way. She’s been through a lot. I’m not fully informed of her past, that’s her private business, but she’s had a rough time. I’ll call her.”

Stan went out to the laundry room and a few minutes later he came back with Dory. “Dory this man says he’s your father, you are under no obligation to go with him. Do you understand?” Stan told her.

Dory looked pitiful in Wayland’s eyes, but she was still his daughter.

“Hello, Dory, how are you? Would you like to come home? Your mother would love to see you again.”

“Hello, Dad. I don’t know what to say. I’m not very well, as you can see,” Dory said to her father.

Wayland said, “Thank you, Stan, for looking after her. Now it’s up to us.”


Finn sat in the driving seat as Wayland helped Dory into the back seat. Dory wasn’t in good health, that was more than obvious. He wondered what Wayland and Rita would be able to do for her.

Wayland stood outside Finn’s car and rang Lyle and Boyce to tell them the good news. Then he rang Rita, to let her know that she had got her daughter back.


When Dory was fit and well, a grand celebration was held in her honour. Finn and Maxine, were invited, and Stan was included as he had been the one to try and look after her. There was no alcohol drunk at that do, which was considered a blessing in Finn’s eyes as regards Maxine’s reaction to drink.


The morning after the celebration, Boyce got on his bicycle and cycled to the waterfall, as it had been raining heavily all night and he wanted to take more photos of the rainbow and the water woman, now that the sun was shining.


As he approached his destination, he saw there were others who were as keen as he was to take the photos. Two police cars and an ambulance became visible as Boyce got nearer. Everyone was looking into the pool where two divers were pulling out the sodden corpse of a woman.


Boyce was on the point of focusing his camera, when he saw the drowned woman’s face.


It was Patricia! How had she got there?

Submitted: January 05, 2014

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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