Lauren had loved Howard since she first laid eyes on him, and yes, it’s true that he had hairs back in those days. But this was not important.
They’d met at a party her parents threw, a little get-together which consisted in inviting all of the neighbourhood and eating some roasted meat with some mashed potatoes. She remembered Providence oh-so-well. The house, the lawn she once had and this cloudy sun which seemed to just always exists.
Reliving all those moments, walking, in her mind, through the house which saw her grow, Lauren was sitting on piece of woods. The Flood had come and taken its toll upon Oakmont, but still, some days such as this, Lauren thought it wasn’t this serious.
Her toes were currently surfing upon the gloomy green waters who had infested the streets, like liquid asphalt, forcing everybody to re-think their means of transportation.
Howard, Howard always had a boat. He’d set it up on the wall of their living room, letting it rust and fall into dust all over the guest, as if its decay was just a wave of snow. Still, Lauren knew people thought they were weird for habits such as this. They thought they were cray-zies, she said in her head with the voice of her third grade teacher, until everybody realized that Howard’s boat was the sole one in all of the apartment building and they’d have to go by him before they could make it to work. And then everybody became nice, and if you asked Lauren, this was what the Flood was like. It had made people nicer.
Blushing, while the rumble of a motorboat perturbed her daydreaming for just a moment, she remembered how the girls looked at her when she made up enough courage to go and talk to the handsome dark man which silently stood in a corner of her parents’ living room. The dark man being Howard, for sure. In just a few moments, they were laughing and, not touching, no, but they were good. And it was more then she’d ever saw in any couple she knew.
And then Howard had to go to Oakmont and she didn’t like it at first, and she didn’t like his new job which made him come back home smelling like fish and water, but mostly fish. She disliked the occupation but she liked the pay, so tiny she had to find a job. Oh dear! In the Providence she was born in, such a thing would have been impossible, but here, in Oakmont she was Miss Howard Pendleton, secretary for Mister Pennbrooks, a very nice and old gentleman who worked for the Oakmont Chronicles.
Before coming to the city, her life had been so empty, and translucent. She was pretty sure, back in those days, people could see right through here. At the time, she only loved Howard but she hungered for more. Sometimes she travelled backwards and all she could see were sheets of glass keeping her subdue. A puppet left for everybody to laugh at.
But this was before the Flood.
First came the rock which parted the sea like the claws of some subaquatic deity, ripping through the sky as if they almost wanted to bind Oakmont in obscurity. And sure, it had been scary, but people learned to live with that, mister, and it was surely for the best, I mean, you don’t see car running over people so often, now, do you?
Of course, before the Flood, the risk of drowning in the streets was also very low, and as of right now, it appeared to have become a national sport everybody enrolled in across the whole block, but hey, you want progress you gotta make sacrifices.
Lauren smiled as a boat slowly growled while passing on her right. She gifted the drivers and both its passengers with a gentle gesture of the hand.
- How are things going, Miss Pickles? she heard herself ask.
And no answer came. The boat furiously continued to roar but not-so-quickly that she didn’t have the time to catch a glimpse of the scales which were now covering the Pickles’ bodies. Things had to change, she guessed.
Still, Lauren wondered when Howard would be back, glancing in the green waters who were so deep, you sometimes couldn’t see the ground underneath it. It was as if, sometimes the streets had simply vanished, and it was a ridiculous idea. Sometimes, Lauren would sit there for hours, caressing the low flow of the street with her toes and she’d asked herself: When would everything get back to normal? Thing is, she wasn’t sure she wanted everything to become usual again.
Howard, Howard appeared to love her more ever since the Flood, he’d become successful with his boats and his touring of the city. A real entrepreneur, still smelling a little bit of fish but this didn’t repel her as much as before. Sometimes, late at night she would cling onto his body, pressing her nail across the scale which populated his belly, tapping. She thought: this was what love really sounded like. A nail oh-so-gently pressing onto a scale.
This is the fourth story in my series inspired by Astor Alexander’s art for Frogware’s videogame The Sinking City. I hope you like it so clap, follow or reply, and wether you loved or hate it, I’ll be there to read it.
And if you are interested by the process which brought this flash fiction to life you can read an article about it in One Tip from a Dilettante Writer.