Note: This is a fictional piece. She didn’t know when they left.
When the words, a slew of them, went fluttering up, back into the mackerel sky. Everything was still the same, she thought: the suitcase smelling of mold, cinnamon, and cologne, filled with books, and Mother still calling on Tuesdays from her rocking chair.
But she wasn’t threading words like string anymore. She wasn’t staring hard at the way the rabbits paused at midnight when she came home or at the various wood grains on the tabletops. The way some people had long fingers and some people had short. The words now lay on the plane of her cerebrum like dead fish on a dock, under a mass of cloud. They sat there, feverish above the grey water, stinking and sweating in the open air, gasping for want of life.
Slowly the trees began wilting and the night stopped brandishing violent beauty.
She knew something had to be done.
After a long wait, weeks (or months if she was honest with herself), it was decided that enough was enough. She decided to throw away the gems and golden spices, the carved sculptures and heavy timepieces she had strapped to her back, two buckles each, and then moved out of the mud. She calculated the cost. It was worth it. Laying out what she had left, goblets and buckets, glass dishes and bowls made from clay, she sat on a rock to wait. She lay on her back and watched for them.
She counted a bird, then a beetle. There was a toad with a million lumps, slippery, that hopped near her, around in the wet, bright grass. The sun was not there behind the black trees. She would sit on the smooth, silvery slab of a stone all day if she had to. The words would come. Patience.
The mist hung.
And then, without warning, it happened.
There was a cracking sound, and then a noise similar to the rustling of water.
Like a ripple in the sky, flashes of rainlight, the words started falling from the clouds. They came quickly - in sentences and pages, whole stories in fact. The letters got stuck in tree branches and some missed the cups altogether and fell in little tumbling rivulets off the boulder and into a stream. Where certain words landed, plants and flowers began sprouting out of the ground. She was surprised when a whole building, beautifully carved, sprang up to her left after a page sank under the grass.
She was collecting them in her arms, grabbing and holding as many as she could fit between both hands, pouring them into the bags and saucers and boxes she had cleverly laid out. There was a song in the air, arresting and lovely, that made her pause. The words were on the wind too, between everything, the strains of an aria or a woman humming. The deep vibrant notes of a man singing opera.
This was the start of the great flood she’d been waiting for.
She walked near the woods, plucking script out of the puddles.