Moments before the water reached the top of the wardrobe, Gil managed to kick through the ceiling. Plaster shattered into the rising soup of brown.
‘Up. Quick,’ he called above the din.
But the long minutes on their cramped island had drained Donna’s strength. So Gil pulled himself through, then reached down, caught her under the arms and hauled her up.
The water rose quickly to ceiling level. Gil smashed a hole onto the roof. It would be a final resort.
They sat on the rain-soaked capping tiles as a surge of brown sent everything from drowning cattle to neighbours’ houses swirling past. It swallowed the first row of tiles. Then the next.
A helicopter swooped low over what was left of the general store. It hovered. A rope dropped beside them. As they waited, the water nipping their feet, Gil looked at his wife and said, ruefully, ‘Dose it change anything, d’ya reckon?’
‘No Gil’ she said. Then paused. ‘Maybe we can part friends.’
There was a long moment of what seemed like silence. Water rushing by in an unstoppable stampede. Helicopter blowing hard. But silence nevertheless.
‘Geeze,’ said Gil. ‘It never rains but it bloody pours.’
They were laughing together for the first time in months when their rescuer dropped onto the roof beside them.
Stories come from all over. This began with terrible floods across eastern Australia, and coincided with even more tragic flooding in South America. It is written in the knowledge that there are harder stories being told that owe nothing to the fiction writer’s craft. Those stories are being exchanged between people who have lost homes and livelihoods and loved ones. This story is posted with respect to those affected – not because their sorrow is its inspiration but because stories are important. They connect people. Having written it (because it came to me – not because I went looking for it) I feel it would be disingenuous of me to withhold it. The Queensland Premier’s Disaster Relief Appeal is accepting donations towards flood relief.