So the river's comin'. Get out, take your things, they tell us. Ain't matter none to me. Start fresh all over again. Like we done before and before that.
“Mama, can I take Hildy?”
“Best you do. She sure cain't swim.” That rag doll's her world. She ain't got nothin' more valuable than that. “You go tell the others come home now. Now, you hear?”
Like spring cleanin' I go through the house, pickin' up this and that, mostly clothes for the kids and some things that like Hildy, I cain't leave behind. Most stuff I just stick up high on the tops of shelves and furniture, figurin' maybe the river won't see it up there. Or maybe it'll take it away.
Like it took Sam last time it rose up ragin' at all the peoples that come too close and settle in. Like they owned it. Nobody can own the land nor tell the river where it oughta run. Ever now and then it comes back at you. Teaches you that soil you been standin' on's no better than sand. And no man's no better than that neither.
The kids come trompin' in, all talkin' at once like a church choir out of harmony.
“Help me pack up some food for a few days. Go roll up them rugs and stick ‘em top of the dressers.”
They all complainin' like I brung the rain all by my own self just to ruin the day.
The oldest one's walkin' ‘round with her bottom lip lickin' the floor cause she wants to go be with that boy. “You stay here and help this family,” I tell her, “before you goes startin' another one.” She flounces outta the room but I knows what she and he's been doin'.
They come ‘round again, shoutin' through bullhorns that we gotta move out right now. But they's right. For folks like us, it don't take much to pack up years into an hour's warning. Things left behind ain't worth nothin'. That's what I says to myself. No more than if somebody died.
words: Susan M. Gibb, Connecticut (Spinning / Hypercompendia)
this story is part of the 365 days/365 stories project (see note below)
image: 'clean dishes' - Kim McMechan, Canada (website)
author's note: 365 days/365 stories