It has been raining for five straight days now and the river is swollen, threatening to spill over the banks and inundate this small southern Ohio city. It’s late autumn and this is what happens every fall. On the river. Rain, rising tides, flooded homes and people stranded on rooftops watching cars and animals floating down the river. People ask why don’t they just move? The answer is because this is their home.
It’s late, 3:00 a.m., and the waters of the Ohio are racing toward the Mississippi, the Blood Moon riding low in the sky now, watching the whole scene like a curious silver eye, casting its light on the waters and illuminating the flotsam that is beginning to jam the river and force it onto the shore. The people who were standing on its banks earlier in the evening have gone to sleep, hoping for a better day tomorrow, which means, of course, that the rain will stop.
What they aren’t seeing now is a body, or should I say, parts of a body, washed against a pile of tree branches, bouncing like a rubber doll, one arm flopping as the waves from the torrent strike it. The other arm missing. Skin peeled back on the trunk. Her face, or what’s left of it, is swollen and grotesque, the soft light of the moon unable to alter the fact that her body is decaying, the night breeze unable to hide the stench of rotting flesh. Her clothes are torn from the punishing waters, and her eyes, only holes now, stare into the night sky, as if anxious to release the secret of what had happened.