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Water used to find its way into the house during rainstorms and collect in the most unexpected places. Sometimes she would step in a puddle as she got out of bed in the morning, or retrieve a glass from the cupboard only to find it was already full. The water seemed to jump out at her when she least expected it, as if it was trying to cure a case of hiccups she didn’t have. At first it unsettled her, but soon she grew used to it. She could hardly smell the moldy, faded couch cushions anymore, and she didn’t notice the way the filthy, tattered rugs squished with each step she took. Water was an omnipresent feature of life in the house. She blamed its pervasiveness on the decaying roof and extraordinarily frequent rain, but by the time she thought to reconsider its cause, it was already too late.
On the night of this revelation, she sat in the moldy dining room at the head of the dining table, trying to rid her fingernails of the crusted mud that, like the rainwater, never seemed to go away. Each time her arm brushed against one of the cold metal nails set into the splintered surface of the table she winced and drew back. The air inside the house was particularly icy on account of the house’s thin walls, which had never been insulated and were now little more than rotting wooden slats connected by rusty, bent nails. She shivered but didn’t move from her chair. She could see by the light of the candle that flickered in the biting breeze that outside the window swollen, bruised storm clouds were gathering. With a sigh, she pulled the candle closer and wondered what kind of unpleasant surprise the next morning’s leftover rainwater would bring her.
It was only a matter of minutes before the storm was upon her. One moment the house was silent, and the next the rain was so loud she couldn’t hear her own breathing. She could no longer see beyond the window pane, the rain was so heavy and thick. This was hardly unusual, and she barely noticed until the raindrops started to drip down onto the dining table and the top of her head. She scraped the chair back from the table and rose, hurrying to the living room to find a blanket. She stopped, shocked. The living room’s roof was apparently faring worse than that of the dining room, as half an inch of water had already gathered in the corners of the floor and every blanket in the room was damp and cold. And the rain was only getting heavier. She hurried throughout the house looking for a dry place to wait out the storm, but water seemed to be pouring through every part of the roof. Water had begun to cascade down the staircase and down the hall to the foyer.
She splashed from room to room frantically and uselessly, and began to wonder why the roof had never been repaired. She should have found the time to do something about it. This was turning into something far from usual. She was starting to feel a growing sense of dread… water was sloshing around her ankles now, and groaning, cackling thunderbolts were breaking in the sky and sending blinding flashes into the air. She grabbed hold of the slippery knob of the back door and squinted against the driving sheets of rain, hoping to see clear skies in the distance, but the furious clouds stretched unbroken as far as she could see. She ventured out onto the back porch, but its roof was no better than that of the house.
The backyard seemed to be slipping away under a raging river that tore across it. Mud was everywhere, and the very earth seemed to be washing into the woods behind the house. It was then that she saw something poking out of what was left of the backyard, something that couldn’t be any tree or plant. Something unmoving. Something all too familiar. Suddenly realizing what it must be, she choked on the rain that had gathered on her lips and stumbled, coughing, back into the house. The water was up to her knees. She tripped over the dining chair she had been sitting in only a few minutes before as it floated behind her, and soon she was thrashing about in the icy water, trying to get back on her feet and regain her balance. The house had gone dark, the candles extinguished and the moon covered by the storm clouds. The tip of the human hand she had seen poking out of the ground was now an arm, and she knew she didn’t have much time. She waded to the hearth in the living room and cast about on the mantelpiece until her numbed fingers found her old rosary, the beads slippery and icy, the layer of dust that had gathered on them over so many months washed away. She began whispering a prayer, then shouting it, and then screaming it so that she could hear her own voice over the raging rain pounding on the neglected roof. She made her way back to the kitchen. The remains of the backyard had completely washed away, revealing her sins in horrifying completeness. She kissed the rosary, shouting to the heavens. The leaky roof, she realized, was in her way, and beyond that, the spiteful storm clouds. Her sins were coming for her, all of them, and whatever lay above the storm clouds was not going to save her. They were approaching her, carried by the rushing water across the backyard, through the doorway, into the house. She was waist deep in water, trying to flee, but they were coming, and she couldn’t escape them.
One of the corpses’ feet brushed against her arm, and she jerked away only to brush against another one right behind her. She was sobbing now, panicked, and she noticed the stubborn mud that had been caked under her fingernails ever since she had tried to cover up her sins, bury them, leave them behind and forget them. The mud hadn’t gone away, and neither had the water: the same water she had drowned them in, the same water that was drowning her now, that had been trying to drown her all along. The same water, heaven-sent, that rose, slowly, above her head, above her reach, and beyond her hopes of salvation. The rosary beads were floating to the surface as she sank to the floor with her sins by her side.





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