The Bridge is Down
The rain has been driving down for twelve straight hours. The radio says anyone on the flood plain should get ready to evacuate. The river’s an angry torrent of mud, broken branches, and fractured limbs. Flash floods are pretty much the norm this time of year, but things will change after the storm—you just know it.
The contractions started last night, and I told Bill it was just my luck the heavens should burst open right about the same time I was going to. We’ve already settled on a name; if it’s a girl, we’ll call her Ginger, if it’s a boy—William Jr.—after his dad.
Bill’s got the route planned out. We’ll head through town, across the bridge, past the post office and on down US101.
Bill has a phone in one hand and the radio tucked under his arm; every minute or so he cranes his neck to glance back at me from across the hall.
The pain is pinning me down—pulling me to another place in my brain where I can smell wet earth and feel the heat of my own blood gushing through my veins.
Another pang, and a fine sheen of sweat forms on my forehead. The rain is falling with a deep drumming groan on the yard.
The ground is more liquid than land right now, and I’m thinking that at any minute the whole house will lift on a swell of water and float into town. I might lift and float slowly into town.
Bill worked at the local lumber mill until it closed down last year. We’re in “transition,” as they say. Only the little cosmic joke on us was that ready or not, we were pregnant.
“Bill,” I call out, “shut the heater, I’m burning up here.”
The body I used to know and understand is undergoing some seriously dark changes—deep roots twisting and pulling at me like a trunk being hauled out of the earth. My fists are clenching the sheets — my belly about as round as a planet.
“Bill, it’s getting close, we gotta get going.”
Then, hands through his hair, cupping the phone: “Honey,” he tells me, “the bridge is down — we’re gonna have to do this here.”
There are enough people looking in on me now, you’d think this was some kind of circus attraction. Bill’s mom is gripping my hand. The rain is pouring in from the ends of the earth, but it’s my own water that is broken now.
There is water everywhere, inside and out, sweat and rain and urine; and through it all, the only one among us who can breathe through water is coming blindly across its own bridge —coming out for air — crying out for air.