After The Flood

Entry by: Seaside Scribbler

11th December 2015
When the waters rose, I ran upstairs and sat on the bed, hugging my box of special stuff to my chest. There had been no effective warning, just the yells of people further up the street whose houses were engulfed by the water first. It came sparkling blue and fast, not the muddy effluence I'd expected. I heard the shouting, grabbed my box and legged it up the stairs. I peered down from the landing as the first trickles came under the door, and as the trickles became a stream, complete with burbling whirlpools and eddies, I took sanctuary on top of my bed.

Every now and then I checked on the water level but it stopped halfway up the stairs. Up floated bits of my life where they bobbed like coloured toys in the sea. Packets of crisps released from the snack cupboard, Christmas baubles freed from the tree, DVDs, papers, soggy but still afloat, some wood from the fire.

From time to time I heard calling from my neighbours. Are you all rights and I'm heres and Yes! Over heres! floated across the water. There didn't seem to be any sound of tragedy, just friendly calling out, people checking on each other. I went to the window and looked out and the world was blue, strange new square lands peeked above the gentle lapping waves and people waved to each other. There was a sense of celebration, in a way. Here was the worst and we had all survived.

Once I was sure the water wasn't getting any higher, I undressed and changed into my wetsuit. It was pink, and I felt like a large startling mermaid as I waded down the stairs and put my toes in the water. It was warm! The water was clear and I could see my hall under the surface, my belongings gently drifting in the currents. I took a breath, and dived down. Underwater, my house looked like a sea-palace. Colours behaved differently; shapes shimmered to and fro and photographs looked alive. I waved at my family members and they waved back from their frames.

I took an experimental breath and found that my newfound mermaidenhood wasn't just confined to my limbs; I could breathe underwater as well. Inhaling felt like coming home as water met water and my body welcomed it, pulled it in. How strange that it took a disaster to show me my true self! If I'd known, I'd have dived down deep in the river before waiting for it to come to me. For it was here just for me, I knew this now. This whole thing, this flooding we'd had predicted for weeks, was for me, to turn me into my true self. I pirouetted under the water, turned somersaults, swam vertically and revelled in the silkiness all around me.

I opened the front door and swam through it and found fish, multicoloured flashes of brilliance flicking all around me and inviting me to play. Their beauty pulled me along and I followed them upstream to the source, the point at which the river had burst its banks. There we joined the mother-water, the river herself, and celebrated our joining by waving to all the other creatures we saw: seals, dolphin, pike, a starfish. For a second I was puzzled until I remembered the fresh water starfish of this river. They were rare, and yet here they were in their tens.

We joined with more life and we floated and swam and twirled and let ourselves be carried, each creature in her own element, currents running individually, tantalising us with their whispers of life upstream. Rocks, they said, fast flowing waterfalls, roe, beginnings. They made me want to go there but when i tried those around me frowned. The river chose our course - I recalled now. You could not fight her, only let her carry you onwards, forever onwards. She'd decide your fate.

Then things change and I go from narrator in my head to being part fo the scene around me. Gone is the voice noticing with delight every new things in my new world, and here is a new feeling, that of being one hundred percent part of the scene. It is vertiginous and I whirl and twirl out of control within my skin.

For a few awful seconds I feel myself being jerked upwards by human hands, and I kick and punch them to let them know I don't need rescuing, in case that is what they're doing. It's true, there's only me down here, only me who's been transformed. It's all my place, and I don't have to share it with anyone. So I push the hands away and they disappear, back above the surface.

I am carried along and I'm humming and smiling at the life around me. I see terrapins chatting and porpoise playing and turtles turning and roe hatching and salmon swimming upstream - they are allowed - and pike pouncing and ducks dipping above and weeds waving and small fry doing what small fry do, charging and darting in groups amongst the rocks. I watch it all and it all delights me. It feels like a performance just for me as I'm introduced to this beautiful world of water.

I hear a cold throbbing and know it is humans again. It's an engine. We all stop our playing and watch the surface, fearful and quiet. The boat passes overhead leaving a churned up trail of white water behind. Don't they understand the water is to be swum through, not driven apart? It's to do with special magical molecules and I think that maybe this is why I'm here, to tell the humans to keep out and stop messing with thsi world. I try to swim upwars as an envoy of peace but friends' hands pull me back to where I belong. I thank them; at least they know I tried.

The river flows faster now and it's wider; I can't see the banks nor the riverbed and the pull is stronger. It's a force I'd never imagined could exist, a power that offers no choice. We are taken but I go willingly, as do we all. There are too many creatures to count now, all my recognised ones and a whole new species set I've never seen before. They come up from below, all curious beaks and snouts and gills, looking at me looking at them. Big liquid eyes watch me in their world and in their experssion I see a question: Are you sure? Of course, I tell them, but what comes out is a stream of bubbles, a trail of air that must have still been inside me until this moment. When it's gone I sink down a little more and inside me something flips, my middle does a somersault and I'm suddenly sure not all is well. The water is darker, now, and my friends' faces no longer look at me with smiling eyes. It's colder and the current stronger and I reach upwards to see if my hand can touch the surface.

My body starts to spasm, and my head jerks forwards and backwards, at once flippers and fins and claws grab me and swipe at me and push me and pull me, they don't want to let me go. Their grasp is too strong and I feel myself slip back down. I try to feel what I'd been feeling all along, a playful curiosity at this amazing nw world just for me but I can't pin the feeling down, it's gone, carried downstream in the current, leaving me afraid, for the first time ever...

'...and she's back she's back take the paddles off she doesn't need another shock just wait and see if the beat steadies and she's gone again she's gone she's gone she's...'

A cold thing has a grip on my ankle and I think it must be one of those giant octopus because only they would have this strength, this cold inhuman monstrous strength that has me, completely has me. It pulls me down down down down down

and down




to the ultimate blackness beneath. I never guessed it could be this dark.

I never guessed it would be this lonely.

It is COLD

And there is nothing, NOTHING NO THING

And then there is a light, far far above. Right hhigh up to where it surely must be clouds. Water drip soff me like oil as I concentrate on this light and will myself towards it.

I rise.

I float

I go up

I pass back through my river through the dark stages and the black magic animals through the crystal clear blue with the diapanous currents joining everything together and I pass by and I go up and up and up

right to the very white sky above me grey clouds now gone and sun coming through the in between bits

The rain has stopped. Perfect clarity comes to me, sudden and sure:

I drowned.

I look down from the white and see my house from above. Muddy and broken and brown and struck by objects, things wonky against my fence. A car. A broken shed. A body? I look closer and see that it is. It's a naked blody, blue, battered and there are people around it, kneeling, working hard and solidly refusing to let the body go.

I feel mild curiosity at what they're doing, wondering how much electricity the body would need and where it would come from and how it'll bring the body back to life ... before I recognise the face form my morning mirror routine when I paint those eyes that stare sightlessly back and they stare sightlessly because I'm looking with my eyes from up here. I need to put the eyes back where they belong so I will myself down again, but not to the blackness, I grab a tree on the way and steady myself on the earth, pull myself along the branches until I'm over the body and I try to throw myself back in.

I throw myself like a rugby player and force myself down through that cold air, into the whitish blueish flabby skin thing that is my shell.

There's a shout and a flash and huge huge bang right inside me, a snap and a crash in my head and in my veins and my hands jerk and flap about and my feet are all toes and joints and the ground is cold cold and so hard.

I open my eyes.

A man in a green uniform stares into them. He reaches behind and holds up a hand.

She's back, he says, and I don't know if I hear the words aloud with real ears or if they're in my head. The sound is sweet like music, human music and I hear a beat to go with the music and I know it's my heart, not broken, not filled with water, alive, here, back on earth.

After the Flood

begin the newspapers the next day. I lie in a white clean hospital bed and see my own face from above again, across the front of the paper that's balanced on my legs.