My sister was the one who took the bottle opener up the garden, coaxing the lids from the beer bottles. She poured hops and wheat and barley onto their oily backs, and made a swimming pool for the slugs.
Their fat bodies wrestled in carbonated liquid, drowning in the deep end of the Tupperware. I saved the fattest one, placing it on my palm as its black body rocked from side to side, contorting into the shape of a crescent moon. My sister wasn’t speaking and neither was I. Everything was wrong. I curled up my fingers until the slug’s body became hard and still, before tossing him into the box to face another death.
Some slugs wriggled to the sides where I kneeled, waiting with Saxo crystals, making snow in the middle of July. I imagined that the creatures would pop and bang like a real witches’ brew, but they dissolved, leaving behind a thick rubbery sludge. We let them bake in the hot sun, watching them give up and die. They smelt like the peaches Mum had once left for too long in the fruit bowl, that I’d refused to eat when they were put in my lunchbox. The flesh decomposed and eventually started to weep. When I hid them in a corner of the garden, a family of flies feasted on the rotting pulp.
It wasn’t long after the men with the ambulance had finished picking my Dad up off the floor of the hallway, that we were allowed to go back into the house. My sister helped me stand on a chair so we could look out of the kitchen window to see what the grownups had been doing. The garden had always been a place of decay, and it had managed to seep inside our home. Dad had left his piece of toast on the patio, covered in strawberry jam. We made sandwiches and ate them without plates, watching the sky turn grey and the toast outside grow soggy.