Chris Bullard

Flood

She said her living room looked like the opening of that TV show about Atlantic City, meaning Boardwalk Empire, which was odd because that was where she lived. Atlantic City, the place, which was real enough though more a place remembered by the old-timers who had taken vacations there than a place anyone lived in, and a place existing only as a place remembered after the Atlantic part had flooded the City part with the ocean striding six feet tall through her bungalow like some boozy, wave-bearded intruder who had shoved her rattan furniture out the door and left wine bottles from the recycling bin strewn through her living room. Her once tidy bungalow had become as unreal to her as a work of fiction, and the only image she could match to the present reality of opening familiar doors on complete disarrangement was an image from a TV character’s mad dream of the ocean, that ocean she had moved to Atlantic City to enjoy, swimming daily in its transparent edge, as small waves fell over small waves, the repetition creating a sound and a feeling of peacefulness now so inconsistent with the chaos of the city as it restored connections, the back and forth of machinery razing neighbor’s homes, the smell of seaweed on the streets. The need to push aside a tide of wreckage to enter her house had changed the image of the place she remembered, an image that she tried to hold onto, but which when she slept was overcome by another image from the same show of someone bound in locks in a tank like a fishbowl, with the waters rising and only seconds left of breath.