In The Wake Of The Storm
By Alex Shvartsman
I watch fragments of someone else’s life float in several feet of cold water.
The sun shines through the basement window, illuminating the water. Much of it has receded on its own, leaving a high-water line at nearly six feet. What remains is a muddy, wet mess with debris floating on the surface.
There is a black-and-white photo within arm’s reach. I set the hose down on the staircase steps, reach down, and scoop it up from the bottom. The paper is too soggy after spending nearly two days in the water. Smiling strangers stare out of the picture for the last time and the photograph comes apart in my hand.
If I could access my magic, I’d drain the water with a wave of my hand, dry out the walls and floors, and kill the mold spores with a mere thought. Instead, I’m forced to do things the hard way.
I lower the hose into the water until it reaches the carpet and begin to pump. The Shop-Vac is hooked to a portable generator outside, and it surely beats filling a bucket by hand, but it’s a home model capable of holding only a few gallons at a time. I empty the container onto the sodden grass in the backyard over and over again.