The storm came in almost without anyone noticing. We were miles from shelter when the first drops, fat and promising, fell on our loose shirts. I held my mouth open to the sky, supplicant. I was so thirsty.
You shook me. You reminded me that we needed to get to higher ground. Rain only meant floods, the water erasing everything underneath its weight. It was coming for us. We had to run.
We scrambled up the dried river banks to the shore littered with brush. The sand skittered away under our footprints, making it hard to move quickly. We moved as fast as we could. The rain picked up. We looked around for a hill past the curtain of water.
“The west,” you said. I followed your gaze, your body. A low rise in the blank landscape, a little ways away. It was hard to gauge distance with the flatness and the rain. We began to run towards it. Lightning behind us lit up the brush in front like a flash-bulb.
We ran and ran and ran while it rained. The hill was much further than I’d anticipated. My breath came ragged as the wind blew in gusts. You were ahead of me. The sudden darkness of the storm made your figure like a golem in the waste. You kept running. I kept running.
A bush rose up out of the ground and snared my ankle. I fell hard, my breath shoved out of me. I wheezed. I wasn’t sure if you knew I’d fallen. I was alone for the first time.
I pulled myself up to my hands and knees. I called your name. I called it again, my voice hoarse like sand. I looked up. You had stopped but did not come back to me. Your figure watched me in the darkness.
Finally I pulled myself to my feet, my body like a marionette. I looked at your shadow darkening in the storm. I staggered toward you. I heard the rush of wind from every direction. Below it, I heard another rushing: that of water. It was coming.
You turned and ran toward the hill. I followed, but I was slow, still out of breath. I dared not look behind me. I knew a wall of water pushed up the landscape, a liquid glacier carving out a path. I picked up my pace as best I could. I wasn’t sure I’d make it.
I saw you on the first steps of the hill. You paused and looked back, like Lot’s wife. Lightning illumined your face, white as salt. I knew I was gone.
I stopped, staring at you staring at the wall of water behind me. I saw your scream before I heard it. Then, I heard nothing but water, quenching my thirst.