Thursday 26 December 2019

The River

By James McMillan


I am ready. I have got all the things I need to take with me, and I am waiting for the young copper with his high visibility orange jacket to drive up in the Police Land Rover. He will tell me I need to get to a safe place, and he will take me there. 

You know all the experts say the weather is changing. They should really be saying the weather has changed. There are too many storms now. It never used to be this bad. Now it seems madness to live in a cottage so close to the river. It’s a lovely spot in the summer, I have lived here for years but I don’t know how much longer I can bear it.  

I know most of my neighbours except the ones who live in London and just turn up at weekends and bank holidays. The old guard as we call ourselves look out for each other and when we hear there is a storm coming, we all knock on doors to make sure everyone knows. Because you can’t always be listening to television or the radio and not everybody has that internet thing. 

This one is going to be really bad. From the first time they mentioned it on the forecast they said we had to prepare well because it has caused terrible damage on its way here.  

I have closed and locked all the windows. I had a good supply of sand and sandbags so I have got them ready as with a bit of luck they can divert the water or reduce the amount that comes in. I have placed them outside my door so that I can move them into position when I leave.  

I have taken photographs of the inside of every room to help with my insurance claim which I will have to make. You wouldn’t believe the premiums I have to pay.  

I will turn off the power because it is very dangerous to leave it on. Then the very last thing I do is to put a sandbag in the toilet bowl to prevent sewage backflow. I could tell you fantastic stories about sewage backflow but I have learned it is better to wait until people actually ask about it. 

The council has an arrangement with our local church who will let people shelter in the church hall in emergencies. I have heard a rumour that the church charges the council the same price as when it lets out the hall for a wedding reception.  

I usually prepare a few sandwiches to take with me. Some voluntary people usually turn up offer us something hot to eat but I always say no. You don’t know what you are eating unless you make it for yourself.   

I always take a book to read, my toothbrush and my own toilet roll, the aloe vera one.  I also have earplugs as some families have very noisy young children. Some even try to bring their dog but that’s not allowed. I have seen a budgie in a cage there once. The change in temperature killed it but maybe it was old.  

Soon the rain will be falling heavily, the wind will scream, and the river will burst its banks again. Here come the coppers. But it is not the young guy who came last time. It is a young woman in the police car. It’s not the Land Rover and she doesn’t even has an orange jacket on. Are they so short of money nowadays? 

‘Mr MacDonald’ she says, a little nervously I thought. ‘That’s me.’ I smile encouragingly at her. ‘It’s time to go I suppose. I am all ready’. She frowns. ‘We have had reports that you have been shouting at your neighbours’. ‘Well I had to tell them about this storm that’s coming. It’s going to be a really bad one. They have got to move to somewhere safe. I have been doing your job for you’. 

‘Mr MacDonald’ she says and puts her hand gently on my arm ‘There is no storm coming this way. Look at the sky’.  

About the Author

James started story writing at the age of seven when his schoolteacher asked for a 'composition' on a day in the life of a penny.
62 years later, James has decided to be a writer.

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