October 12, 2015
I find myself assailed by dark waters again, pooling around memories and claiming their markings. Tears splash, creating a perverse dance of ripples in the smelly intruder. I know better than store belongings in my basement, but within my house, there is nowhere else to keep them. I thought I’d managed better, kept things up from the ground and encased in plastic, but laziness and accumulation found boxes exposed to this latest flood.
I hate how what seems solid becomes pliant as cardboard when exposed thus. By nature, water is insidious, able to creep into the most secure of hiding places. A black garbage bag collects treasures I wished to preserve. A rare note from my curly-haired blonde proclaiming love for me. She never responds when I express my love for her any more, never offers an endearment for me. Now, she stares, blank and unimpressed, unresponsive as a flatline instead. I cling to such remembrances as this ruined sheet of lined paper with its “I heart you, Mommy” now as proof. Once she cared about her mother. Once I mattered enough to make a pictogram.
Even pages stored up high found moisture’s wrath. My marriage scrapbook so carefully laid beneath sunlight with prayers for preservation curl with mold. Handwriting fades from cherished cards. Once-vibrant pictures flake, leaving nothing to share on anniversaries. My breath rattles and a latest coughing spasm leaves me weak-kneed. I look away as I dump my carefully collected into another trash bin. The wet-dry vacuum complains as I direct its elephantine hose. Each pass lifts the tiles to reveal more pools. Always more pools, sucking at my feet, dragging at my health, pulling me beneath its swirling darkness.
The cottage braved weather of all sorts since it was built in 1949, repelling advances until Hurricane Ivan ripped into its bowels in 2004. Then, I gutted walls and lifted carpet. I combatted mold and mildew, confident of the anomaly of this Act of God. Like a child on a shoreline, I rebuilt my sandcastle, only to have it dashed again and again.
Our finances disallow an exodus from this too-small dwelling caught in a bowl at the base of a hill riddled with storm-diverted springs. The once park-like back yard could now swarm with alligators and cranberries. I’d love to send the children outside to play, but I fear they aren’t strong enough swimmers. No friends or family visit any longer, though I love playing host. Our house isn’t healthy now. Instead, my immediate family and I shoe-horn in, understanding if we wish to see our loved ones, we must travel to them.
Conflicting quotes offer impossible solutions while my husband travels, leaving me to bag our belongings, estimating time of death and praying my words will suffice when presenting memories washed away in a sea of unclean water. The Weatherbug App predicts another storm on the morrow. I’ll gird my loins and prepare for another onslaught.
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