Stephen had been ready in 1987. He’d spent hours moving furniture and electrical goods upstairs, laying sandbags and filling water bottles and saucepans. There was a buzz of excitement after the second day of solid rain, as Molly and the girls packed to go to her parents’ house uptown. When the water finally subsided, the carpets were ruined and the whole downstairs needed repainting, but within a month life was pretty much back to normal.
Six months passed, and Molly was restless. The house felt different and the fear of another flood left a simmering anxiety which touched everything. She wanted to move away from the river, but Stephen wanted to stay. They disagreed. Then they argued. Then she took the kids uptown to her parents’ again and never came back.
‘A red flood warning is in place across the whole of the south, meaning a serious risk to life and property,’ said the man on the news. Texts alerts and emails were sent, answerphone messages were left. A megaphone demanded people leave their homes this morning. An hour ago, someone had banged on the door. ‘Hello? Mr Walsh? Are you in there? It’s time to go’.
Stephen sat in his brown leather armchair. The bitter, steel-grey water appeared slowly from under the doorway and crept across the floorboards. His eyes rested, and a soft smile spread gently across his face with the rising water.