After the Flood
by Stephanie Lazzara
She came home late that afternoon in July. The front door stuck oddly to the old oak floors so she had to squeeze her body sideways to get through. The sound of water dripping was heavy and so steady her pulse quickened. She heard the cats cries from the basement and ran through the foyer, into the living room, her feet slipping on the soggy green rug. Water rushed and pulsed through the walls, the flowered wallpaper and blue paint bubbled and bulged below the burst pipe. Sections of ceiling hung down in spots, delicately dangling by threads of plaster and paint. She crouched and put her hands over her head as she crawled to the kitchen, water falling faster than rain. The cats cried out to her louder, their desperate moans almost unearthly. Her hands shook frantically as she tried to push open the basement door. Water followed her down the steps as she waded through half sunken boxes of old family photos, her dead mother's clothes. Cartons of her wooden childhood toys floated to the surface and she pushed them away with one hand. She called out the cats' names because she couldn't see them in the dark. There was no answer. The water was cold and deep and her legs were numb, unable to move fast enough. Her hands searched surfaces for familiar softness of fur as she scanned the room, her body heavy with the weight of water, fearing she was too late.
(Stephanie Lazzara was previously a modern dance choeographer and performer and she is now focusing on motherhood and writing. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and son.)