Daily Archives: March 30, 2024

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March 30, 2024 by in category Quill and Moss by Dianna Sinovic, Writing tagged as , ,

A day of never-ending rain. Pounding on the roof, dripping off overflowing eaves, collecting in pools and puddles on the lawn. Hour after hour, by the quarter- and the half-inch, the water climbing the sides of the rain gauge in the small yard until it reached a full three inches.

Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

The broad Delaware flowed brown with the mud it had picked up farther upstream. And like the water in the rain gauge, the river crept up its banks until it swirled only steps from Cara’s back porch.

Flood stage was sixteen feet, and according to the gauge at Frenchtown, the river stood at fourteen feet and rising.

It was the price she paid for living in a house perched on the riverbank. When it rained, she risked being flooded out. 

And, unbelievably, the rain drove even harder against the roof. The plastic bucket she set under an intermittent leak in the living room splatted with a steady rhythm—Thunk-thunkThunk-thunk.

Jasper, her beagle, trotted back and forth across the kitchen tile, keyed up because of the downpour. He hated storms and only barely tolerated steady rain. Just like her ex, hating their stormy relationship and only barely putting up with their daily life. It was no surprise when Todd bailed three years into their marriage.

At two o’clock, Cara put on her rain jacket and boots, and drove slowly through the slosh of water that ran across her road, the new stream seeking the river, on the downslope. Her mother would be waiting at the door, ready for her doctor appointment.

Sitting in the waiting room, Cara felt her phone buzz. Kimm, her neighbor. They R evacuating us. Closing roadI’ll be at my sister’s.

But Jasper. She texted back: Can u take Jasper? I’ll get him from u later.

Several beats later Kimm responded. Water 2 highSorry.

“Mom, I can’t stay,” Cara said, as she dropped off her mother after the appointment. “My dog …”

“Oh, he’ll be fine.” Her mother shuffled slowly beneath Cara’s umbrella. “Todd is there, and it’s just a little rain.”

Her mother routinely forgot Cara was divorced, had been for a year and a half. He’d wanted them to move to higher ground, but she refused. The river was her life blood.

Zipping back to her neighborhood along the river, Cara splashed through standing water, her wipers on high, and cursed the car’s defrost, which couldn’t clear the fog from the front window.

A flashing Road Closed sign a quarter mile from her turnoff stopped her momentarily. But no one official was monitoring the road, and she maneuvered her car around the barrier to continue up the road. 

She was about a thousand feet from her destination when she could go no farther in her car. The water stretched ahead of her, swirling and frothing. Pulling well off the shoulder, she parked and waded into the flood. The water reached her ankles and then her knees, but she could see her house, the brown roof, the thirty-foot pine near the south wall. The house itself was up a slight rise, so that by the time she reached it, the water had retreated to her ankles.

Jasper’s barking welcomed her onto the porch. She unlocked the door, and the dog pranced around her legs. 

“Yes, I’m home.” She wrestled playfully with the beagle, but the rising water lapping at the porch steps caught her eye. It was a major torrent; this time the house might not survive. 

She had to. To prove to Todd she was right.

With a calmness she didn’t feel, she found her backpack and a duffel bag, placing within them essentials she wanted to save. Jasper followed her from room to room, whining softly. She knew what he meant: Stop the rain.

“Wish I could, buddy,” she said, pausing briefly to give him a pat. 

She checked the house one last time and locked the front door. The river churned in a muddy eddy, like a mug of pale chocolate. The water was now at the bottom porch step, knee deep—too deep for Jasper. But if she didn’t leave now, the combination of rising water and current might overwhelm her.

She hauled the stuffed pack onto her back, looped the duffel over her right shoulder, and picked up Jasper. He let her hold him, without a wiggle or squirm. 

One foot into the water, then the other. The current tugged at her. Step by step, careful to position each foot solidly on the path, Cara traveled several hundred feet. Then a misstep let the current spin her and she started to fall. Releasing Jasper, she caught herself and gasped. 

The dog. He’d disappeared beneath the surface.

“Help!” she called, although no one was there to hear. “Jasper!”

After she battled a moment of frozen panic, the dog’s head popped up. He was swimming beside her. 

Pushing ahead, Cara reached the shallower water and then the gravel; Jasper now trotted on solid ground.

She bent and hugged him, his wet fur wiping the tears from her face. They’d made it.

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