We three sat there in the kitchen with the tap running, the water reaching the rim of the blocked sink and the steady pool pouring onto the cold white tiles of the floor below our feet. The man had used a pile of newspapers to block the gaps around the door and the woman had sealed the edges of the windows with planks of wood. Morning sun was streaming through the glass, bringing with it the erratic chirrup of birds sat in the garden trees which came over us like stripped blankets of song. I had made each of us a cup of tea which felt hot against the skin of my shaking hand and, lifting it towards my lips, the warmth climbed upwards beyond my nostrils and forehead. A deep sip calmed me, followed by the comfortable knock of the mug returning to the table surface.
The man eyed the woman with a keenness I had not seen in him for some time, his hand holding hers under the table. Her eyes with him, but the fire gone, so that she only curled her lip slightly towards the edges of her mouth, her vision fixed resolutely on the space behind his head. The tip of his thumb gently stroked the skin of her knuckles, red and raw; tender fingers affectionately massaging a closed palm, unwavering in their kind grip around her wrist.
The water had risen to our ankles; a cold bite crawling upwards to our shins as the sun made its way unopposed high above the trees and the sound of birds continued to build against the glass of the window. A thought I saw a tear fall from the woman’s face, soundless in the growing pool, and a hot quiver shook my throat as I watched the man press his loving thumb into her hand, a sight soon obscured by the surface of the water. The pots and pans by the sink lost their grip and fitfully moved against each other, their clang and thud followed by a moan of the walls; a low arching sound that strained against the liquid weight climbing in waves. My hands slow to move. My tea spread into a dark cloud around my chest.
The man wanted to say something to her, his mouth jittered towards speech but kept from sound. Her eyes still locked beyond him, away from him, the water all around her neck and a look of fear as his head angled upwards, desperate to listen but only met with the sounds of birds. Her soft lips parted slightly above the coldness, my mouth resolutely closed as the water covered my face and I was met with the red hum of blood within my ears. Looking at the window I could see the trees against the blue sky, curled and elegant but imperceptible in their rolling forms away from the panicked beat resounding through my head, the man’s hand touching the woman’s for as long as he was able.