Her books floated away on the flood water like the boats of some miniature race, seeking safer shores and greener pastures to call home. Standing on the roof of her house, Alice watched them go, the tears which dripped off her chin and cheeks adding to the deluge.
They were just things. She sat down on the sloping shingles, tucking her knees under her jaw. The neighborhood looked like the top of a rainforest, people and animals huddled together on the uppermost canopy of the jungle known as suburbia. A Red Cross boat navigated the unpredictable currents of the swollen river, stopping house by house to help survivors reach safety.
Alice shuddered at the thought of the word: Survivor. She had not survived. Losing everything that made her who she was, Alice was lost forever to the water, and a shell remained behind.
A thud made her jump. She scrambled up the roof, instinct forcing her away from what could be another tree ripped from the world below or even what was left of a car. Her wide eyes searched the roof’s edge for the source of the noise and caught sight of a half-drowned square of green.
With shallow huffs of breath, Alice lowered herself towards the object, caught on the corner of the gutter. Her fingers brushed its top and it spun away. For a heart stopping moment she was she sure she had lost it, but like an animal returning to its den, it crashed back into her open hand.
Clutching it to her chest, Alice pushed herself away from the water’s edge. When she was safe above the canopy once more, she looked at the book cradled in her arm like a new-born.
It wasn’t one of hers. The hardcover was blank aside from some flaking embossing that had once detailed the imprint of a rose. The pages were soaked, but the ink had not run beyond reading, though the title page was lost forever.
Alice snuffled, shaking the salt water and rain water out of her eyes, and looked up to see the Red Cross boat struggling towards her. She tucked the book under her jacket, doing what she could to protect it from the rain. It was only a thing; but it was also a start.
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