"Circumstance" by Mary Tilberg

When I awoke this morning, my room had been re-arranged. The stacks of unread books and folded-open half-read magazines and newspapers rolled up to swat at flies, my pages of now illegible waterlogged scribble and babble, discarded clothing that had been piling up for several weeks on the old bottomless rocker itself, were floating in a wash around the bed. I’d awakened to the sound of knocking. A ray of sunlight pierced through the bare branches of the maple right into my left eye. Who’s there? I’d replied in my half-asleep state. Not I, said the knocking sound. Not here. Knock, tock, tock.In my vague somnolence I swear I heard someone say shush, she’s still asleep. Who? I muttered. Who the hell is here? No one, came the reply in the form of a drip drip, drip drip. Ah, I’m dreaming, I smiled, stretching my legs out to the bottom of the bed, stretching in the sense of luxury only a day without plans can evoke, a day without obligation or duty. Ah, yeah, I sighed.

Then I became aware of the dampness at my feet. The dripping sound once again dropped into my consciousness. And that infernal knocking! Who’s there? My voice rang in the silence, punctuated, I realized, by that incongruous drip. I opened my eyes wide and stared straight ahead of me at the wall opposite the window. Light reflections danced and wavered there across the cream yellow surface as if the room were an indoor pool, sunlight pouring in through a wall of glass. The vegetative, fishy odor of river. The knocking again, clearly coming from the bottom of the bed.

I sat up. Reddened flood water, like blood, was awash in the room. Against the bedrail the carcass of an Angora goat tocked its lovely horns, the weight of its curly coat, its mass pinkish below the water, keeping it submerged. Knock knock. Goat eyes staring. Beyond my door the rest of the house was gone. The sun poured down upon the water as it swirled past the door, and in eddied yet another carcass of some poor creature. A raccoon? A badger? If this kept up the room would soon be stuffed with dead animals. A Noah’s ark full. I chuckled. My heavy sleigh bed shifted slightly and I wondered how long before it too would float. The bedding had wicked up water so that everything was now soggy. I saw that my room had wedged up tightly against the old maple, its wide-spread ancient branches keeping me in its embrace. We weren’t going anywhere unless the tree decided to let it all go. It was really up to the tree. Marvelous tree.

So I rolled over and buried my head in the pillow.

Well, what would you do in such a waking dilemma?


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