Two doors down and one hallway over lives a family of extremely interesting circumstances. These circumstances were related to me by the youngest occupant one autumn day as we swung on the swings in the apartment playground. Of course she never said it was her family but she seemed a little over confident of the details in some parts and a little too hesitant in others, especially the parts that implicated the youngest member of the family.
According to her, it all began as she watched the rain pouring over the gutter.
That day the mother, Amanda, had chosen not to go anywhere because of the forecasted storm. And now, much the youngest, Carina, ’s chagrin, it had come with a torrential glory. Every now and then a flash of lighting would pulse, quickly illuminating the waterfall and the landscape beyond.
The house stood at the top of a small hill, which rose up onto of a much taller, though more subtle hill. The family never worried about being flooded, although today, Carina felt a little bit like Noah. She had already begun to wonder if her new umbrella would float if it were turned upside down with her inside it. She had some serious doubts.
“I hope it stops soon.” Amanda declared walking up behind Carina. “I have no desire to walk to the barn in that much rain. What about you little one? Would you be willing to walk through the rain to lock up your chickens?”
For the first time Carina noticed how dim everything was beginning to look. “Mom, we can’t go out in this! We’d get carried away!”
Amanda looked down at her daughter, one eyebrow cocked, “Carried away by what?”
“You know, the water and stuff. Dad always says you’re small and that you get carried away too easily, so I’m even smaller… What if we got John to go with us?”
Amanda threw her head back and laughed at her daughter’s logic. John was Carina’s slightly over weight but very tall brother. He was only 12 and yet almost as tall as their mother. Once some well meaning relative had joked that John had stolen all the height genes in the family before Carina had a chance to get any. Carina thought they were explaining why she was “small for her age” and still blamed John for all of her vertically challenged troubles. And here, once again, was a case where some of the height genes would have come in handy.
“Come on little one, grab your rain coat. John’s already out taking care of his pigs. If the water starts to ‘carry’ us away, we’ll just grab a ride on old Jamima’s back and she’ll take care of us.”
Carina shook her head. Jamima Puddle Duck was way too small to carry both of them. That little duck only came up to her knee and she couldn’t even walk straight. “How about we get the boat from the garage first.” Carina wrinkled her nose remembering her father returning from his last fishing trip and saying that there was a hole in it. “Maybe my umbrella?” There she was back to the same dilemma. Would her umbrella float? And could it carry her and her mother? She looked back out at the constant stream flowing down in front of her.
“No umbrellas, go get your coat and hat before it gets dark. We need to hurry.”
Carina ran to get her coat from the mud room hook where it lived. Her mother’s voice had that tense sound to it that only seemed to come when something was going wrong. Maybe her mother was scared about getting washed away too. Shoving her hands into her sleeves Carina tried to go over the swimming strokes she had learned this summer. If worse came to worse, she thought she could probably swim her mother to shore before giving into the current herself. Tears sprang to her eyes and she ran to her mother. She flung her arms around her mother’s waist crying softly.
“Baby, it’s not that bad. We’ve taken care of the animals in worse. But we need to get going.” Her mother’s voice trailed off as she looked out at past the gutter fall toward the distant horizon, “They say the worst is yet to come and the animals need to be safe tonight. “ Amanda slipped her hand into her daughter’s and smiled carefully down at her, “Just stick with me and wont let anyone carry you away.”