One of the short stories in my book “Women Becoming” is available to read for free exclusively on Lesbians Over Everything, a website and collective I’ve been following since 2017. LOE is a safe space for lesbians to share their personal and fictional stories, opinions on LGBT media, and even gay bar reviews. I’ve previously written for their Every Woman I’ve Ever Loved category. I really recommend it if you’re a woman who loves women, like me.
I wrote most of “The Flood” directly after reading one of my favorite short story anthologies called “Queer Fear.” As little as I formally venture into horror with my magical realism stuff, I love reading it, so these stories were right up my alley. “Queer Fear” reimagines the gay and lesbian experience as if we were faeries, ghosts, zombies, haunted by the violence we’ve experienced in our pasts but finding power in the monstrous. Another story in my book, “Wisteria,” was heavily inspired by this collection.
I came up with the idea for “The Flood” while I was still closeted, but wrote after I was out. It felt very satisfying to revisit the fear I used to have it and turn into some disastrous art.
Genevieve is no longer sure where her dreams end and reality begins. Tuesday night, in her dorm room, after Psychology 110, she rests on her messy bed, tugging her skirt down over her dark thighs, thinking. She thinks so much that sometimes, it drives her mad.
In class tonight, Dr. Cerulean talked of therapy students who diagnose themselves with what they’re learning. Genevieve didn’t want to say it, but secretly, she’s only a Psychology major because she might be mad. Not seriously mad, she tells herself, but she’s just curious, that’s all. What if she could pick apart her relationship with her parents, all Freudian like? Is homosexuality nature or nurture? She’s not a lesbian or anything, and she tolerates her parents just fine. She just needs to know. For a friend.
There’s going to be a knock on her door any minute now, as her very good looking classmate, Anabelle from down the hall, is coming for a visit. Genevieve has told herself that nothing’s going to happen, unlike last time, but she’s not sure she’ll be able to contain it if Annabelle, with her lips pierced, comes in wearing black and silk, or those pants that make her legs look carved out of marble.
Genevieve has told herself that she needs to see Bella again. She reaches for her dresser, where cellphone is charging, to send a text, and whilst fumbling for it, she knocks over her open bottle of Evian water. It begins to spill and bubble onto the messy contents of the desk, flooding onto her cellphone and its charger. A few sparks fly.
“Shit.” Genevieve shakes the phone wildly about to dry it off, but the screen is glitching, flashing. She smacks the phone against her hand, forgetful that the Evian is still tipped over.
The phone gives one last flicker of life. Genevieve groans and throws it onto her bed, thinking, stupid thing. What on Earth am I paying all this money for? Never mind that her parents pay for her phone bill. Water is still pouring from the neck of the bottle, onto the floor where she keeps her dirty shoes and trash.
“Shit.” She grabs the bottle, holds it right side up, but it continues, overflowing the neck.
“What on Earth?” The water smacks over the bottle top, splashing her hands and her sweater. She covers it with her hand and squints hard at the plastic column. Water rushes upward from within itself, like there’s a high powered spring at its core, and she can’t see through the opaque bundle of silvery bubbles.
Genevieve holds the bottle out from her as far as possible, then digs around the dresser top for the plastic cap. But after sifting through the piles of rusted razor blades, empty lipsticks, and bloody tissues to no avail, she knows the cap is gone. She turns the bottle upside down, annoyed, and shakes it up and down violently.
“Hurry up, finish up,” she scolds, like the bottle is a small child. She smacks the bottle’s bottom, watching as the water pours out in gushes, cascades. Her carpet becomes more and more wet, her socks more and more trickled on.
“Oh, fuck off.” Genevieve gets up and takes her bath towel down from its hook, on the back of the front door. Navy blue and crusted with blood, it serves as a blockade: she bundles the towel up, nestles the neck deep inside it, and leaves it in a corner of the room, to pour to its heart’s content.
Sighing, she walks, soggy-footed, back to the bed. Takes one last look at her cellphone, pressing buttons that prove it useless and water-logged. She can see her swollen, darkened face in the black, mirror-like screen.
Genevieve climbs back into bed, closes her eyes, and focuses on the pulse of her heartbeat. She takes a deep breath, slow inhale, audible exhale. This was the way she’d learned in yoga class the other night, with Anabelle. Held in the back of the gym’s old dance room, the class was a sultry sort of relaxation; dim lights, Anabelle stretched, black pants, white sports bra. It almost cured her, she thought, but there was that damn, leaky pipe in the corner of the room, and how was she supposed to focus on shavasana, deep breathing, with that agonizing drip, drop, drip, drop? It was always the little things that got to her most.
In the present, Genevieve breathes herself into a paralysis of sleep, in which she has bursts of sleep paralysis: dreams wherein she’s stuck in the bed, trying to raise her head, arms, and legs, but some heavy force is pinning her.
She wakes in an hour, suddenly, up to the feeling cold water soaking into her jeans.
When she opens her eyes, she finds that there is a flash flood in the dorm room: dark, ocean-like water is swishing and crashing, rising like a tide, her shoes, clothes, and trash all rocking in time.
“What the hell?”
Genevieve stands up, the water galloping her feet and shins. Water beats in waves through the cracked, open window, and the Evian bottle, still pouring out, is bouncing along the surface, the towel floating beside it resembling a seaweed creature. She has to get out, out of this room and maybe her life, so she swims through her belongings and wilted garbage, her metal rainboots, her desk chair and ruined computer bits, swallowing water, inching towards the door. By the time she’s reached it, the water has risen so that she can’t reach the handle unless she goes under. Her feet no longer touch the floor.
She hears someone knocking, rapturous, on the door, outside.
“Genevieve?” Anabelle’s muffled voice can be heard over the sound of the waves.
“It’s me, open up!”
Genevieve finally gets a hold of the handle, but when she opens it, a violent burst of
water sprays her back, tossing her and sending her rolling beneath the surface.
When she comes up again, the water is so high that she’s inches from the ceiling. She
holds her breath and goes under once more, trying to swim against the current, but the pressure
is heavy, the trash swirling about her in a haze, the wooden chair legs and razor blades nicking her limbs. She can’t see the doorway, or make any headway, so she bursts above the surface, gurgling and panting, her heartbeat throbbing as the last bit of air goes.
She tries to scream, which instantly clogs her throat. Soon, the pain becomes unbearable, and she suffocates, blacks out.
Read the rest on Lesbians Over Everything