After The Flood

Entry by: Briergate

9th December 2015
After the Flood

Everything was calm, and still.

She turned to him, her dark eyes and overlarge nose. Those freckles which had faded so much, since the flood began.

"How are you?"

Those three words. So loaded with inference and import. She almost laughed at them. Those words, after the time spent surviving, cleaning out the animals. Feeding them. The shit. The stench.

"We are all OK. We're surviving."

Noah nodded, his grey beard meeting the brown linen of his smock. His eyes raked over his wife, his beautiful, forgiving, trusting wife. The mother of his children. He reached out a shaking hand and touched her cheek. She smiled, then.

"And, so. Have we completed the mission? Is God proud?"

Noah listened, and nodded, and yet he could not ignore the barbed inference of his wife's words. Yes, they had completed the mission. Yes, he had rescued two of every animal, and saved them from a certain death. Yes, he had done God's will. But, did he believe? Did he really feel sated, as one who had conducted his life in the Way God intended should?

No. He was empty. He did not feel fulfilled. All he felt, was the wrath of his sons, and the gaping emptiness of his wife. The woman who had yielded to him, when he fell in love. The woman who had clenched her fists until her knuckles turned as white as snow, to deliver him his sons. The one who had provided wise counsel, even as the rest of the world turned their backs and left him mocked; alone.

"I love you", he said. Simple and sweet, the words transcended the stench of the horses and goats, the swans and sea lions. She looked up at him, and her eyes seemed grey and shadowed.

"I know," she said.

Noah stood, and mobilised his army. Shem took the lion and his mate out first. The three of them paused when the huge oak door was lowered, and sniffed the air. Animal and Human took the first, tentative steps together.

The air smelled salty and fresh, as if the world's ills had been washed clean by the torrential rains. There was an involuntary pause as each animal hesitated, unused to the concept of stepping out on to land for the first time in so many months. The group, paired in to types with the young who had been born in captivity, were gradually urged on by more impatient beasts behind them, and soon the procession of creatures marched forward. There was an air of wonder, and uncertainty, and Mrs. Noah watched, breath held, as the animals made their way from the ark.

It surprised her, even now, how the various animals interacted with each other. Natural predators ignored their prey, allowing them to walk without threat. The more timid creatures held firm even as their usual enemies marched alongside them. While Mrs. Noah was used to miracles, now, it was this sense of peace and solidarity that had marked their epic journey since her husband began his task, that still shone out as being incredible.

She knew Humans were usually incapable of this level of companionship, of overcoming innate difference, and yet rabbits were hopping next to lions, frogs alongside mosquitoes, with no fear or discordance.

And, Dear God, she thought to herself, why did we save the mosquitoes, and yet we left the unicorns behind? She chastised herself for the unkind thought, but wondered in her quiet way what selection process they had followed, and the reasoning behind their choices. Surely, though, Humans were possibly low down on the list of the animals to be saved.

And so, the hierarchy made no sense, and it was not her place to judge it. She had spent her months of incarceration feeding the beasts, and doing what she could to make sure her children coped with being cooped up, without feeling land beneath their feet. She had lead them in prayer, and continued to school them as well as she could with their limited resources.

At times, she had become so accustomed to the sway and fall of her wooden home, she lost memory of ever having known anything different. Adrift, all she had was faith. Faith in her husband, who had toiled while those around him had mocked and jeered. And, though she was unsure about this second element of belief, faith in God. For, if not for Him, how else had Noah known what he did? How else would he have gained the fortitude to persevere in an act so ludicrous, so unthinkable, that even she had doubted his sanity at times?

Any yet, she had known to stand by him, because her faith in this man was much stronger and more whole than her faith in a being of whom she had only read; never experienced. It was her belief in Noah that had stayed her mouth when she wanted to criticise. It was this conviction that had enabled her to bring up their sons alone, while he embarked on the ark project. That kept her preparing his meals, rubbing his aching shoulders and nodding understanding, when inside she was stricken with fear, and doubt.

And so, as they led the way out of the boat, she held his hand tightly. She glanced behind to make sure that her sons were following, and the animals were continuing to disregard their innate instincts and instead band together in solidarity. She gasped as her feet touched earth, and her world stopped swaying. Dry land. She could almost feel the stirring of the soil as she walked, encouraging new growth and procreation.

She smiled, watching as the birds took flight and surged ahead to establish their place in this new world. The elephants stood in an uncertain group, the parents jostling their young as they gazed around them. For many of these animals, born in captivity, this was their first experience of the world. And, looking about her, Mrs. Noah realised with an intake of breath and a sense of wonderment, it was a very beautiful world.

The sky was blue and clear. The sun beat down, encouraging growth and bringing sustenance to the drying land. Plants unfurled before her. There was no longer many traces of the flood to give testament to what had gone before.

She grasped Noah's hand tighter, aware that he was silently crying beside her. Curling one hand protectively around her stomach, sensing the new life stirring within, she lifted her head up to the sky. She searched for signs of the God that had made this possible, wanting to thank someone for the miracle of their survival, but she paused before uttering grateful exclamations aloud. Because, while they had been chosen, and saved, a full globe of innocents had perished.

Could she praise a Being who had allowed that to happen, even if she had been singled out to be spared? She thought of the fear and pain that the rains must have wrought upon her fellow men and women, innocent children. The animals who could not be saved.
A steady stream of beasts ran ahead, losing their anxieties in the thrill of freedom. To her right, streaming down the hill, she saw lions threatening to turn on elks, cats pursuing rats, an Eagle swooping down towards a startled rabbit.

The flood may have cleansed this Earth, but the natural order of predator and prey, beasts pitted against beasts, power over weakness, and the innate will to survive was resurging around her.

She took a breath. This was the force which would sustain her. Just as the bear ahead of her suddenly turned against the fox who just moments before had been trotting amiably by his side, so she needed to rely upon her instincts. She had survived. Her children had survived. And, as a mother, perhaps that was the truest instinct she could rely upon. Her firmest belief. Her nature.

She stepped further in to the new world, and smiled.