After the Flood

After the Flood

After the flood, when the debris-filled water of the river lapped against the last remaining piles of the broken pier, we stood barefoot, with our pants legs rolled up, in the mud on the riverbank and watched our neighbor’s sofa bob up in down in the water, trapped there by the branches of a tree that had fallen on the opposite side of the river. The mud was tepid and swallowed our feet up to our ankles, holding us in place as if we were glued there, forced to watch the parts of barns, fences, furniture and dead cattle drift by.

We stepped into the river, and holding onto a broken pile we grabbed the rope of our sunken rowboat still moored to the pier, and with great effort we pulled it up onto the shore. There we emptied the water from the boat and inspected it for breaks in the wood or holes, but there were none. Under the front seat we found lodged there the body of Tom Goodboy’s orange cat. Drowned, its body was swollen and its hair matted. We set it on a patch of grass to dry out to later take home to Tom. He loved that cat more than anything else in the world.

We pushed the boat into the water and sat in it and cleaned the mud from our feet and squeezed the water from our shirts. The river knocked rhythmically against the sides of the boat, like hands beating gently on hollow logs. We grabbed planks of wood that were floating by to use as oars since the real oars had been taken by the river. With our shirts off and our shoes tied around our necks,we rowed toward the middle of the river. Along the way, branches, a white plastic lawn chair, and a bird cage, smashed into the side of the boat. Once near the sofa, we stopped rowing, turned the boat with the bow facing down river, pulled in the planks, and let the river carry us along on its choppy currents.  

We drifted by the ravaged farms along the river, where murders of crows circled above the destroyed fields of corn. Trees were stripped of their foliage and they stood naked, bent, and broken, amidst the waterborne desolation. Houses that stood closest to the river and had been submerged up to their roofs were the same dark beige color of mud as the river. Their windows and doors were broken or gone, and most of the contents had been washed away, carried downriver and possibly out to sea, or lay on the riverbed. Nothing moved on the ground on either side of the river. We had drifted for a couple of miles when we saw Tom Goodboy sifting through a mound of debris on the riverbank. We put the planks in the water and rowed to the shore.

“What are you doing here?” we asked him.

“Looking for my cat,” he answered.

“We found your cat,” we told him.

We tied the rowboat to a bent sign on the riverbank and got into Tom’s pickup truck.

After the flood, the road going back to where we had begun was covered in dried mud and littered with debris. In several places, cattle with bloated bodies, their faces twisted into expressions of agony, were tangled in barbed wire fences. Tom stopped the truck as near to the riverbank as he could.  We took off our shoes, rolled up our pants legs, and slogged through the mud to the patch of grass where we had laid the cat. His cat was sitting up, licking its fur. It looked perfectly fine.

Steve Carr

Steve Carr, who lives in Richmond, Va., began his writing career as a military journalist and has had over 250 short stories published internationally in print and online magazines, literary journals and anthologies since June, 2016. He has two collections of short stories, Sand and Rain, that have been published by Clarendon House Publications. His third collection of short stories, Heat, was published by Czykmate Productions. His YA collection of stories, The Tales of Talker Knock was published by Clarendon House Publications. His plays have been produced in several states in the U.S. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice. His website is He is on Twitter

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