I’ve run a marathon and the short story a day project is almost over. Help me choose my next project: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q536WGY
The first thing you see when you come around the last curve to my village is the church tower. In fact, this is the only thing you see, save for a few boats piloted by senior citizens with vicious tan lines and rotund stomachs, protruding like they store all their extra years in the belly.
The government flooded our town forty years ago, with the election of a new governor who was intent on “making real changes’ and spoke with such a deep voice that people couldn’t help but put him in a position of authority. We were against it, of course, but were not really sure how to go about voicing our displeasure, and figured arguing amongst ourselves was if not the most efficient way to get things done, than certainly the one we knew best. By the time we agreed on a list of reasons against the creation of the lake (1. It will flood our town. 2. Everyone will get very wet. 3…), the dam was already buit and water was slowly trickling into everyone’s basements as the water rose.
We quickly amended our list of grievances and dispatched a separate committee to coordinate basement rescues. Along with the committee or underemployed town so an abrupt economic growth, as many of the wealthier people began hiring the jumpy and unambitious population of young men to help them move their old patio furniture, famil photo albums, and discarded books and leaf blowers to the basements of their smaller summer homes up the hill.
This economic boon splintered the fragile coalition-with all of the mothers swinging to support the damn, relieved to have their afternoon siestas back. Some of their sons joined them, happy to have work, while others were eager to get back to the comfort of their mother’s care, and eyeing their friends across the room with exasperation, re-doubled their efforts to force some anti-dam agreement.
At this point everyone’s basements were flooded, and people resigned themselves to only wearing sandals, as the water sloshed around their feet. This put the shoe merchants out of business, but the town didn’t mourn. They were old men who breathed smoke in your face as they quoted outrageous prices and backwards politics.
The supermarket was doing great business, and when the men weren’t helping build new homes for the wealthy up the hill, they were busy stealing materials off of the abandoned houses in the wealth party of town and building extravagant rooftop porches and towers on their own. As the water crept past the second story, these became even more complex.
Finally, the town flooded completely after one large rain storm. There was a great deal of confusion in the dark as the water came gushing in. The people who were pro-dam were too proud to ask for help from those who were anti-dam, and those who were against the dam said that they got what they deserved and helped none of the mothers and their now broad-backed sons, who put them on their shouders and swam up.
Some people eventually sued the government, asking for new homes and relocation fees. Stiff-backed government inspectors came to investigate the claims, but found no evidence that the town had been above water beforehand; the town archives were flooded, and all photos were destroyed, so unfortunately there was nothing we could do to prove otherwise.
The town remained deeply divided, however, and there was only reconciliation when the people who had made money off of the early flooding purchased inner tubes for everyone’s use. The lawsuit was eventually settled, too, with the advice: “Hold your breath.” And as long as we did that, the town was totally livable.