The narrator relates his childhood with his oldest sister, Dawn, who has Down syndrome. He describes how after Dawn - at their mother's insistence - underwent a surgery to remove her uterus, they went on a beach holiday. Dawn and the narrator, out from under their mother's thumb for once, learn to fish with the help of Captain Hodge, who Dawn falls in love with. When the holiday is over, Captain Hodge asks the narrator for help; the narrator gives Dawn the message that Captain Hodge is married and so cannot marry her. Now a middle-aged man with his own family, the narrator remembers that what he told Dawn was a lie.
'Everybody said she did it because Lloyd said no when she asked for lunch money. That’s partly true. Tess asked him just before he went to the pub. I heard her. She said, ‘What about lunch money for tomorrow?’ What the people in the town didn’t mention, though, was everything else, and they didn’t mention everything else because they would have suspected something all along, but did nothing.' (Introduction)