For weeks and weeks it rained. We lived on the 32nd floor of our building and watched from our windows the wash of what we counted as August. Dead cats floated edematous by live cats paddling against the eastern current that carried things ranging from newspaper dispensers to men’s hats within its conflict to the ocean, a body of water separate, we supposed yet, and thus nameable still, though we could not utter the word without thinking of starving leviathans thrashing at some aphotic depth, nor whisper sky without contemplating God’s emptying belly.

They stopped calling it a disaster. They talked of the bible. Then the television signal was lost and we stared at the lines on the screen until the power was lost too.

Our mother stayed after our father left. Sometimes the rain would fall colorless and we were disconsolate. Other times it came baleful and black with tantrums of thunder that rattled our bodies like nickels in a fare box. The neighbors’ voices disappeared. We felt like we were made of eggshells.

We saw New Jersey school busses drift by in columns and dinosaur bones from the museum bobbing past like drum majorettes in an undead parade. We smelled like mealworms, or it was the apartment. It was uncomfortable to worry about.

“The war is over!” A man shouted from a floor above us.
“It’s from the radio! It’s over, it’s over!”
“But it’s raining and raining,” we shouted with our heads out the window, water filling our throats. “It’s raining still and our father’s gone! Keep home with your radio and your ‘it’s overs’ to yourself!”

What war, we thought. There were many. We did not hear him shout again.

Our mother jumped out the window that night. We pretended to sleep as she opened the upper sash and went to the ocean in the fetid water. She wrote “Or else I should push you out” on the wall with marker and we didn’t understand. We found only time to try, our tears as erratic and faithful as the swollen faces sun-turned in the flood, the rain infesting our reason.

It was not long then the water took into its swelling soma the 26th, 27th, and 28th floors. We were hungry and fell to eating the carpet and chewing the hardwood. Helicopters no longer buzzed from the horizon, the horizon itself almost erased, barely a blurred etching spelling obdurate fate and dooming our imaginations raw. Grating thoughts bled from our heads and collected on the torn up floors. We were very alone.

“Who is coming, who? Come now!” We cried. We cried for days of downpour. No one came. Chewing nails from the floorboards, drinking the screed, our redoubts gone.

Grotesque clouds chewed the remaining morsels of sunlight from the sky. They grew so corpulent and ugly and vile we refused to see them, our eyes pacing the infinite procession of water, the incomprehensible figures of its surface, the yellowing walls, the end of our lives. The worst came in the minutes of miserable dawn, only recognizable by the etches of sudden gray. How brief, how helpless. Screams and blasphemy echoed from distances incalculably far, the sound fettered to the flood, oppressed by the wrecked sky, as incapable of escape as the bodies of their origin.

On the day the water bubbled up through the floors and crept in under the door, slow and impassive like math driving grains of sand in a desert, we were not thankful for the end. Not relieved, not grateful, not blessed; only mournful. We bewailed our parents and we recounted our lot. We affixed ourselves to the betrayals of nature:

The quiet trees
The broken atmosphere
The stubborn chemistry
Our beguiled hands
Our pitiful strain
And these traitorous hearts.

It came to our knees and we shook. We didn’t touch. Comfort was a corner to hide, a blank wall to silently converse with.

The cold was surprising. What were threads of cotton became capillaries for the water’s glacial seize, the colored rags of our reduced clothes purged to austere tones by its filthy influence. We tore them. Naked now, the shivering continued uncorrected.

Why? The question was unborn, stifled on the tongue. We shook like memories passing from recollection and that was all.

It was then, our prayers lost and our inquisitions buried, when we were in full witness no more but to the paroxysms of our skulls, that we began to turn to fish.

First our feet came together as if sewn so, leading connections at the ankle, the calf, the knee, and up the thigh. Balance impossible to maintain, we hopped. Our skin shifted and lost its form. It shined like the ends of cut metal. It gathered in lumps and we had caudal fins, in bunches and we had dorsal spines. That would indicate that our backs were next, but we don’t know about that, and we especially don’t know about our arms. In terror we felt our heads shift, jerk, dissolve into horrors smaller than the storm, which gradually faded from consideration. Finally in the full solace of our wracked world, we went whole into the water. We swam through the streets, our minds abandoned movie houses.

We forgot the story when, confused, we struggled to remember if we had really turned into fish or if we had been so all along, eventually surrendering to our own torpor and distractions, the things we knew much more about.