‘You lot – be good,’ says Dad on his way out.
We’re four lads in the conservatory staring at clouds. We stuff Cheetos into our mouths, neck cans of Coke, and shake soda over Dad’s precious patio, his ‘oh so lovely suntrap’ with its yellow climbing roses and ornamental wall. They all get a dousing. We concentrate and make clouds move with our minds. Next, we’re on the patio. I say ‘what if an earthquake erupted right here?’ We crouch and hold hands, our freckled arms forming a circle, we focus on the cement in the cracks, willing it to split. Our eyes water. The youngest is serious when he starts a chant, ‘fire and explosions and toxic chemicals.’ There’s a weird clanking sound. Water bubbles up between the slabs like a tap’s been left on. And it’s spreading like a spring or a hydra in the underworld. And we’re rubbing our hands and jets of water shoot fifty feet into the air. We’re blasting birds right out of the sky. The slabs are floating like playing cards and we race out onto the lawn in our socks. We’re dripping and kicking puddles and the tide floods into the house.
When the garden’s under two feet of water, the shed folds and the chickens flap loose and perch on a branch in the cherry tree. The water rises and we’re swimming against the current. I dive down, pull up handfuls of tulips before giving into buoyancy and pop up with lungs inflated beside the Symmonds’ fence. I press my hands against the knots, but the water surges, it builds and the fence tips over, a tide rushes towards the Symmonds’ house. We’re turning somersaults and the yacht they keep on a dry dock has uprooted and is heading right for us. I’m paddling and kicking, trying to get out of the way. I spot the youngest clinging to a post and the yacht pounds against a door at the back. Now we’re yelling at each other and bouncing the blame around. Our shirts hang like split balloons. There’s a clank of bolts and I’m scrabbling to get away, then I grab the side of the boat. Up the ladder, then hand over hand, on the deck, legs up and over. Amber clouds part overhead and we shade our eyes. The door splinters and out pour six long-haired girls who power to the surface, with tails flapping. Sparkling like marble figurines, they climb aboard and demand to be fed.