It was day seven of the torrent.
Jane pulled back the curtain and stared out of the window. It wasn’t easy to see clearly beyond the sheets of rain. Rivulets of water bubbled over the kerb and washed down the street. Parked cars were squat in water, half-a-wheel deep.
Systematic hammering rose from Dave’s house. Marg, at number fifty-seven, said he was building a boat. She scurried along, holding her Cagoule taut to her throat; her hood stretched like a condom over her head. She clutched an offering: a small, pale bag of groceries.
Jane turned back to the TV where the newsreader analysed the geographic patterns of rainfall, his voice dripped with doom. Kings Lyn and St Austell were swamped. He predicted Cumbria would be next. Behind the presenter, images continued to play. People clambered onto floating debris and dipped makeshift oars into muddy water.
Jane thought about tugging on her boots and venturing outside; the cat needed supplies of Whiskers and she was nearly out of milk. But the thought of queues and kindred-spirit chatter unsettled her.
The weather girl said there’d be no respite, and swept her arm across Britain, peppered with storm clouds. She smiled as if it was her fault.
Jane thought of her dad and his snubbed plea for forgiveness. Later that year, a text from his wife said he was ill. Now, she’d heard he was in St Mary’s on ward four. Jane wondered if the road to the hospital was closed.
Everyone said nothing would ever be fair again. Many feared the rain was a form of punishment.
Jane stroked Chester behind his ears and he purred. He was curled up on the window seat, dry and contented. He hadn’t cried to go out since the rain started.
Jane listened hard. Beneath the patter, the newsreader continued in a resigned tone.
The sky lightened, and Jane saw Marg hurrying back home.
A thin stream of sunshine interrupted the grey. Somewhere a rainbow should be visible; she strained her neck and pressed her forehead against the glass. Just above the rooftops she observed a glimmer in the sky.
And just as suddenly as it had begun, the rain stopped.