The day Cyclone Larry hit us, I won second place in a writing competition with this short story.
She sat. Unbelieving eyes staring through the shards of glass still clinging to the window frame. Her breath came quickly now, the smell of sodden earth saturating her nostrils. Sickness welled up inside her rigid torso. The vomit came suddenly and violently, no longer trapped within her will. The young woman let it go, she let it all out. Vomit, tears, screaming, beating the floor with her fists, shaking, trembling and then finally nothing. Could it really be that she felt nothing. What about the man at her side? She looked down at him. No, there was nothing, no feeling, no love, just nothing.
She put his hand over his chest and tried to stand. Her legs were still wobbly, so was her head for that matter. Her long dark, matted hair fell over her shoulder and into her tear soaked eyes as she forced herself off the floor.
Finally upright, she was able to take stock of the damage to their home, at least, it used to be their home. She looked at her husband again. His face looked so peaceful. Like a deep sleep. He’ll wake soon, and then they can start to rebuild their home, their lives.
As she walked through the house towards the back door she heard a yelp, then a cry and then another yelp. Oh God, the dog!
She moved as fast as her tired brain would let her, manoeuvring over broken furniture and slushy, sludgy water. It got deeper towards the back door. That damn creek never did empty properly when there was a big wet.
Pushing the tangled hair out of her face, the young woman stood on what was left of the back steps and listened. Yep, there it was again that yelping and wait, was that splashing? Yes! Over by the shed she saw her beloved mongrel dog crying and clawing his way onto the guttering.
“Hey boy! Come on, here I am!” The sound of his mistress’s voice visibly excited the little animal and from somewhere he found the strength to swim into her waiting arms.
“Oh, baby I thought you were a goner. I told you to stay...” she roused, but just barely. They were both happy to be safe and held. “I’m gonna put you down now darling, just stay close to mummy ok?”
Once inside, the little black dog ran through the slushy water into the master bedroom to shake himself dry and to roll on the bed sheets. But a horrible shock was in store for the small refugee. There was no warm dry bed, no soft doona or fresh carpet to roll on. Everything in the house was drenched and in disarray. Confused, the dog ran to find his mummy.
He found her sitting again by what was left of the front window, next to her sleeping husband. The little doggie was careful not to wake the boss; he’d nearly drowned and didn’t want a smack as well. Instead he climbed into his mummy’s lap, turned around three times and cuddled in for a well-earned nap.
Absently she stroked the creature. He was warm, wet and shivering but he’d be o.k. As she stroked the dog she reached out and took her husbands hand in hers. It was cold. Maybe she should get him a blanket, but they were all wet. He’d have to wait; he’ll be right while he sleeps.
Sleep, hmm if she just closed her eyes for a moment everything would be alright. She was safe, it was over now surely. Everything was so still and quiet. Not even the sound of rain in the distance.
Her eyes closed – There he was. Damn he was handsome. She felt like the luckiest woman on earth. Look at him in that Hawaii shirt and the chain of plastic flowers around his neck, such a dork, yet the love of her life. He had chosen a brightly coloured shirt covered in lovely dark haired women wearing nothing but grass skirts and coconut shells. He’d said they reminded him of her, dark hair big breasts. He’d gotten a playful slap across the cheek for that comment, especially in front of her father!
She was wearing an orange and yellow sarong and exactly the same type of chain of plastic flowers around her neck, not to mention a huge smile and overwhelming feeling of love and delight. She was finally marrying the man she loved. The only man who made her feel special, beautiful, intelligent, happy and most importantly . . . loved. When he smiled so did she, when he was sad so was she, when he was tired or angry or happy or anything at all, so was she! It was good to be in love.
What a perfect day this was to be wed. The beach was shady this late in the day and the pelicans were using their magnificent bills to find that last feed before bedtime. Looking out over the water the couple could see the tell tale signs of small bait fish being chased by something larger. They watched as the water bubbled and rippled over the small waves as a stingray leapt out of the water and splashed down in the middle of it’s prey. The waves fell gently on the shore as the tide slowly crept its way in.
After the ceremony the couple was joined by various necessary people for a brief photo shoot before the light faded. A pink sunset concluded the afternoon’s events as everyone retired to the marquee for drinks and a barbie. It was nothing fancy, but it was the happiest day of their life together so far. Perfection, even down to the old school friend and his band they had hired to play during the reception.
Of course they wouldn’t accept cash, but they did drink their fair share of free alcohol during the evening. The couple’s first dance together was unforgettable. ‘Till there was you’ was the newlyweds special song, chosen by him which made it all the more special for her.
He was her best friend, lover and now husband. What a beautiful life they had to look forward to, and what a beautiful place they had chosen to live.
Both of them had grown up in the ‘big smoke’ down south. It was cold and damp, rushed, crowded and unhealthy. Here, in this small seaside town they had found peace and harmony. They were glad to have made the move, quick to make friends and even quicker to fall in love with the lifestyle. Laid back, quiet, relaxing, neither of them missed the traffic or the noise.
They felt like they had found paradise.
“Sarah! Sarah! Mick … are you guys in there?!” Shaken from her dream they young woman clambered to her knees, forgetting about the dog, her husband and her exhaustion.
“Dave, is that you? We are in here, in the front room,” Sarah called out the front window through the broken glass to the elderly man in her, in what was her front garden.
“I’m coming up, just you stay put. Where’s Mick?” Dave had already begun to move the small boat towards the place where the front steps used to be.
“We’re o.k, I found the dog but I haven’t seen the chickens anywhere. I hope the chickens are alright.”
Dave tethered the tinny and climbed into the damaged house. Sarah reached out for his arm to help steady him and found that it was she who needed the steadying!
“Love,” said Dave,” you need to sit down.” The pensioner helped her to the floor and tucked a knotted mess of hair behind her ear. He looked her over and decided that she was uninjured. Sarah managed a weak smile and forced back the tears that had started to overflow again.
As Dave looked around he noticed Mick lying by the front window. He smiled at Sarah as he called out, “Hey, fella. You got yourself a good woman here, very brave. Mick?”
“He’s sleeping,” droned Sarah.
Dave walked the few paces to where Mick lay. Comprehension dawned on the old man’s face. He knelt by Mick and patted his hand, “It’s o.k mate. We’ll look after her for ya.”
“When he wakes we’ll have to start cleaning up,” Sarah’s voice sounded miles away. She was staring out the front door.
Dave just nodded, “Sure love. How about we get you into some warm clothes and I’ll come back for Mick a little later.”
Without looking at him, Sarah stood and headed towards the boat. The dog was already there, asleep on the life jackets. Sarah climbed in while Dave undid the rope.
Silently her friend pushed away from her house, her husband and headed down the street.
The young woman did not look back.