ANNA LISTENED WITH attentive disbelief at the girl’s story. The girl told her what happened down by the river. How the trees collapsed in pools of liquid splinters and how the water began to spread over the ground. The girl narrowly escaped drowning when the riverbanks and hedgerows broke, and the water flowed in like a wave. She made her way out of the valley, finding the road leading up the hill where Anna and Karen found her. The water grew with unnatural energy and intent. Its source was mysterious, but it was clear it would consume everything. The girl could not properly register these events. It was as though she had just woken, unsure if she was still in a dream.
Hearing the rain fall outside, she knew that everything she had ever known or loved, was, at that moment, vanishing beneath the water.
IN THE BEDROOM, Anna had laid some clothes on the bed.
‘Now, I’m going back downstairs. You should sleep. Will you be okay up here on your own? I found some dry clothes for you. They shouldn’t be too big, I don’t think.’
While the girl dreamed, light from outside filled the room. She did not sleep long. When she awoke she became aware of a deep silence. She hadn’t yet realised the rain had stopped, though it might have been time itself that paused for that moment. She got out of bed, not quite of herown volition, and walked over to the window. The moon was shining brightly onto the scene. She could see the rose bower and the flowers filling the garden. She saw the bench and the basket beside it. Then she saw the pelt hanging from a nail by the back door and the hare’s head sitting strangely on the chair. The moonlight brought out every shadowy detail of the fur and the bone structure on the hare’s face. Then another light emerged on the horizon, where the hill began to curve back down. A band of white light – the water, brighter by the light of the moon, rising up in the distance like an alien sun.