All I could see was Mary’s legs. The water covering her feet entirely, revealing but an inch of the white socks with frills at the top. She was wearing her polka dot skirt and looked like a poisonous mushroom on two lanky stems. I was thinking how expensive the shoes were, under the water now. Entirely. We’d only bought them for her what… three weeks ago? Jesus Christ, one buys shoes like that to last a year, two years if one’s lucky and the kid doesn’t grow much. Sometimes the kid grows but the feet stay as they were, possibly because they’re trapped in the damn shoes. Will the shoes survive the flood, I thought. The shoes?! We hadn’t even found the cat yet and when there were so many other things to worry about – the lack of insurance for one, I was thinking about the shoes. Shiny patent leather. Coffee brown. Prettiest shoes I’ve seen. I was jealous on my own behalf and that of the other girls when we got them.
Coughs and sneezes from across the room heralding an epidemic of pneumonia. Doing my head in.
But then we were all dead anyway. Me, Mary, her little brothers and sisters. Even the cat. In fact, I think we all got it from the cat in the first place. Melancholius Lethale. The doctor gave us a month or so. Looks like it will be a race now: that or the pneumonia. Won’t be long now in either case.
What? Yes, you can get on the armchair, but don’t put your feet on it, do you hear me? Not the feet!! Do get them out of the water though. I know it’s not comfy, just…hang them over the armrest or something. No do what you want. Seriously. Won’t be long now anyway. I could do with some sleep.
Robert stands a chance. To live. But only, only if he is careful enough, only if he chooses to not come into contact with us. They’re my children, he says, they’re mine and you’re my wife and the cat is my cat too. It’s true, it’s his cat, he brought it home, I didn’t even want it. I want it now though. Now that he’s probably drowned, I want the cat. I’m laughing hysterically, hysterically! I mean what else is there to do.
I appreciate him saying all that sweet crap, but it is important he doesn’t come home at night, or day, or ever really. It's the matter of life and death. Death by the blues. Pathetic.
Could do with him today of all days. He’d probably know what to do about the shoes, he’s good at things like that, he’d actually rescue the bloody shoes. Would know whether they should be dried off slowly or fast, whether to put them in the freezer or blow dry them or rub them with spirits or marmalade or make the cat wee on them. The cat…
God that would be helpful.
But today of all days he shouldn’t come home: the water, you see, is everywhere. And it’s contaminated. We don’t want him to become a melancholic. We’re not selfish like that. Why bring him down with us.What would he do about the shoes, I wonder.