The Flood – Part 4

There’s enough coffee in the pot to top up John’s mug and fill one for myself. I hand him his cup as I sit on the front porch. Tess is off picking wild flowers and tormenting the cats. Zoe just got back from hanging out with her friends, but she sneaks around to the side door. Still doesn’t want to talk I guess.

It’s been a long day. John and I take a moment to listen to the birds and watch the few wisps of cloud drift by.

“Looks like it’ll be a nice night.”

“Sure does.”

“Listen, John. I just want to say that, you know, I probably don’t say it enough, but I really appreciate you letting us stay. Giving us a home, especially after everything you went through with Janine, and Emily…”

John is quiet. I’m scared to look at him. Instead I focus on a dragonfly weaving through the long grass at the end of the walk.

“Listen, whatever happened, whatever path Janine chose, you and those girls are my family. There’s nothing more important than that.”

So that’s that. Nothing else needs to be said I guess.

John drops a hand on my knee. It’s an awkward gesture that means more than he knows.

“Tell the girls I said good night. Happy Father’s Day Daniel.”

John heads off toward the barn. I think about calling out, to return the sentiment. Instead I wipe at my face with my forearm, waiting for the tears to stop.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

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The Flood – Part 3

It’s Sunday morning. That means Tess was up at six, that she got dressed in her favourite outfit, and made herself breakfast with whatever box of cereal she could reach. Now she’s standing in front of me, holding the journal close to her, just like every Sunday.

“Morning baby.”

“Morning Dad.

She’s watching me, waiting for me to ask. “How is Grandma this morning?”

Tess smiles and clutches the journal tighter, “She’s good. It’s eight o’clock, time to get up.”

“Okay, I’ll be down soon.”

“We need to make sure we leave in time, so we’re back before Mom comes.”

“I know baby. Just need to wake up a little.”

“Okay.” Tess skips to the open doorway, but turns before going through. “Don’t fall back asleep.”

“I won’t”

“Promise?”

“Cross my heart.”

She gives me a tight lipped nod and then disappears.

Sunday is the day we go to visit Grandma. Except Tess carries Grandma around with her every waking moment. She’ll spend hours a day talking to the journal. At the cemetery, Tess will stand in front of Emily’s headstone, not saying a word. I don’t pretend to understand it.

I turn over and reach for my phone. It is in fact only seven fifty five. More concerning is the text from Janine that was sent only a few hours ago. She’s not coming. Something came up. She asks me to tell Zoe and Tessa that she’ll make it up to them. Sure I will. Just like every Sunday.

 

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Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

The Flood – Part 2

The door slips from my fingers and slams behind me. I cringe at the noise, but the house remains quiet. The kitchen is dim with only the small light over the sink on. Colourful flashes and low music are coming from the living room. I pop my head in to see Zoe curled up on the couch, thumbs tapping away at the screen of her phone.

“Hi Sweetie.”

She doesn’t look up, “Hi Dad.”

“Tess already in bed?”

“Yeah, she went up half an hour ago.”

“Did she brush her teeth?”

“Yeah.”

“Good, thank you.”

I’m careful to avoid the worst of the loose boards as I climb the staircase. Tess is in bed, head turned away from the lamp on her nightstand. The journal is open across her chest, rising and falling with each shallow breath. I kneel beside her and reach out for the journal. Her eyes flash open and I freeze.

“Hi Dad.”

I pull my arm back, “Hi baby. Did you have a good day at school?”

“Yeah. We made Father’s Day gifts today. You have to wait until Father’s Day to get it though.” She smiles wide, tongue poking through the gap in her teeth.

“I guess I’ll just have to wait then.” I smile and kiss her cheek, “Love you.”

“Love you too.” Tess wraps her hands around the journal and closes her eyes. I pull the string on the lamp and ease my way out of the room, closing the door behind me.

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

 

The Flood – Part 1

There’s not much but the sound of my boots on the gravel and the Cicadas in the field. I see the orange glow from the old radio just inside the barn door. It’s never really turned up enough to hear, but it means John is out working.

I walk in to find him working a sanding block along one of the hull planks of his dad’s old boat.

“You’re back.”

“I am, just wanted to let you know.”

John nods but keeps his focus.

“How are things going out here?”

“Well enough I guess.”

I scan the walls of the barn, covered with tools and smaller projects in various stages of completion. Some dusty from neglect, some fresh and bright.

“How do you find the time for all this John?”

“Didn’t know time needed to be found I guess.”

“Fair enough” I say, “Still, not sure why it’s so hard to do sometimes.”

John pauses and runs his hand along the hull. “Maybe because we have to fight for everything good in our lives. Maybe, the answers are inside us, we just need to pay attention.”

I drop my head and smile at my boots, “Yeah, I’m getting a little tired of hearing that.”

John lifts the sanding block and gets back to the task at hand. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“Not your fault I guess. Well, I should head in and make sure the girls are ready for bed.”

“Give ‘em a squeeze for me.”

“Will do. ‘Night John.”

 

*******

 

Wonder what’s going on? Start here -> The Flood – Prologue

The Flood – Prologue

This is my experiment of producing a story, 250 words at a time.

I’ve participated in a writer/artist collaboration for the last two years called Voice & Vision. Basically, a writer and an artist team up, the writer provides a piece up to 250 words, and the artist provides a piece within a set physical dimension. They each then produce a new work, based on the others initial offering. This year I submitted a story based on an idea I had for a bigger piece. I actually wrote more than one in the same theme, so I decided to take what was already written and expand on it, while keeping each installment at exactly 250 words. So here we are. I hope you enjoy it.

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 John sat on the front porch, hunched forward with his elbows on his knees. A figure shuffled down the laneway, silhouetted by the deep hues of the setting sun. William raised a hand in greeting as he neared.

“Evenin’ Will.”

“Evenin’ John. So, it’s ready is it?”

“Suppose so. Come have a look.”

John led William around the corner of the house and through a break in the Lilacs. A small round table stood in the center of a worn dirt patch. The same table that Emily and her friends would sit around and gossip over afternoon tea. That was a long time ago though.

John’s creation was in the center of the table. It was about the size of a bread box, but not at all the right shape. Even in the long shadow cast by the house, the object stood out. It was vivid, like it was more real than everything around it.

John scratched at the stubble on his chin while William circled the table. It seemed like an eternity of heavy boots dragging through dry soil, but after a time William paused and bent down. He raised a calloused finger and squinted his grey eyes.

“Decided to keep that did ya?”

“Made sense at the time.”

“It’s good. I like it.”

John pursed his lips and nodded. His shoulders dropped as he hooked his thumbs in to the pockets of his jeans.

“So? Think it’ll work?”

“It’ll work just fine. Ya done good John, yes sir.”