Flood Waters in a Small Town

As a creative writing exercise each person chose a photo and then wrote a story from the thoughts stimulated by that picture.

Aunt Effie pulled her long dark skirts about herself as her nephew slowly eased the buggy into the street, water swirling in muddy eddies about the wheels and the horse’s legs.

“Really James……I haven’t seen rain like this since I was a girl!”

Jimmy calculated in his head…..hmmm, about sixty years then. “Gosh,” he said, as politely as he could.

“I hope your father doesn’t think our appointment at the town hall is cancelled. I’m assuming that the lawyer is still coming; with the telephones out of order he could hardly cancel…”

“No Father knew I was coming for you; he saw me leave. The meeting must still be on,” Jim reassured her.

The buggy slowly progressed down the main street, the water swooshing nearly up to the wheel hubs as they broached each crossroad in the town. Jim was very careful not to bring water into the vehicle, or to soak Aunt Effie’s best silk. He was glad Sasha was so steady in the harness.

It was a strange sensation to be travelling like this. The swish and gurgle of the water reminded him of being in their small wooden boat, fishing with his younger brother, but the jolting of the buggy wheels as they found hidden sticks and stones deep in the murk, kept him guiding the faithful horse with all his senses on full alert.

Soon, the sixteen year old could see his dad, carefully steering the family’s other horse, Ned, through the brown floodwater. His father had travelled in the light cart normally reserved for odd jobs on the farm, so that Aunt Effie could be picked up in the comfortable, covered buggy. (She was not really a “farm cart”) kind of auntie!)

“Hey up!” he said as they drew close, the wash from both vehicles meeting in rising peaks as they neared. “All ready?” queried his father. “We’ll have to go through the gates and draw up to the front steps as close as we can.”

Jim let his dad go first.

As his father guided Ned through the large iron gates, he turned and commented, “Let’s try to keep to the drive, the lawns might survive this deluge yet!”

“Yeah”, agreed Jim, “I’d hate to see our huge wheel ruts through them afterwards, if we can avoid it by going ‘round!”

“Whoops!” exclaimed Dad, as his right rear wheel jerked up for a moment, then thumped down with a splash.

“That’ll be the bluestone edging – I’ll circle further out”, said Jim, his young brow puckering with concentration. He skirted the hidden edging more widely.

“Well done, James,” praised Aunt Effie, as they came smoothly up to the Town Hall steps. She patted his suit-clad knee affectionately.

Jim’s dad had pulled up ahead of with no further trouble, and he scuttled across the wooden cart seat, ready to leap over to the wide stone steps. He paused to judge the distance, not wanting to twist his ankle on landing.

“Hey!” he suddenly yelped and froze.

Aunt Effie and Jim looked curiously ahead and strained to see clearly what the bother was.

“What’s wrong, Harry dear?” Aunt Effie called querulously.

“Oh, it’s just a…”

Suddenly the large black stick, washed up by the flood waters, slithered across the wide stone platform, slid down the steps and wriggled away on the brown soupy tide!

All three humans let go of the communal breath they’d been holding and began gasping and laughing in shock. It was kind of funny really….

Aunt Effie sighed. “Oh well, Harry, at least you looked before you leapt!”

Jim said, “Gosh, that was close, Dad!”

(Neither of the horses had noticed a thing, luckily!)

His dad grinned back at them in relief. “Phew! I hope the reading of the will “goes” just as smoothly!” he quipped.

His Aunt smiled. “I’m sure it will, dear… and we’re all fully awake now”.

They turned as a distant voice hailed them, and there, carefully negotiating the watery main street, was the smart black buggy of the lawyer from the next bigger town.

“This day is surely looking more promising than it was,” murmured Aunt Effie.

“If I may crawl past, Aunty, I will help you down,” said Jimmy, stepping over the footplate and balancing momentarily on the shaft. She grasped his arm to steady him and he grinned.

With that, Jim and his dad helped Aunt Effie out of the buggy and onto the Town Hall steps. The lawyer, a bespectacled gent with a trim white beard and kindly face, drew up behind them and made a neat exit of his own. Amazingly, they had all managed to keep their shoes dry!

The small group proceeded through a door off to one side, which the lawyer had unlocked.

“Uncle Charles might be gone, but life is still good,” smiled Aunt Effie, as they settled into leather chairs. With hope in their hearts, everything was going to be okay.

By Bev Fitzsimmons