THE GIRL FOLLOWED, scraping her chair against the tiles. She opened the back door and found Anna on her knees. The field was now entirely subsumed by the water, white as bone and glimmering. The flood filled out every corner of the horizon. The shifting water, a deep swelling sound, lay softly above the silence. The moon shone down from above. It did not glare, and the light’s reflection did not glisten upon the surface. It rested with muted ease, heavy against the darkness.
The girl moved closer, wrapping her arms around Anna’s neck, resting a cheek on the back of her head. The water was folding in gently by the fence and hedgerow; the enormous weight of its body, of the life beneath, keeping it at a slow distance. This serenity of pace steadied the girl’s panic. They seemed almost to be resting as one, as though having arrived at their chosen point, at their chosen moment, paused together.
The others followed into the garden and were immediately struck by the beauty of the field and the moon and what remained of the night sky. The water had gathered around the basket which previously kept the hare, whose head now rolled softly somewhere beneath the tide. The basket floated on the surface, then as it filled, sank.
They watched as the water hastened its approach. When the water reached the girl’s shoes, she felt the same calm as when she pressed her hand against the bark of that young tree. Eyes closed, they waited, each one of them like the stone-cast of an ancient relief, still and perfectly silent. With the water rising up around them, they accepted their fate without struggle or resistance.
They drowned within a dry pool. All of existence frozen beneath the white shadow. The walls, the solitary beacon, then the moon, all drawn down. And there, into that terrible and beautiful void, the stars followed. Extinguished fire across a clean white page.
A. R. Thompson MONK