Page 5 - Demo
P. 5

The Great Flood of 1948
bIy HELEN LOUISE FOSTER
t had been raining for two days.  at’s how my story starts.  at’s the  rst thing I tell him when he asks me about the Great Flood of 1948.
‘ ere aren’t many of you left that lived through it,’ he says and he thanks me for agreeing to be interviewed for posterity. Ignore the small recording device on the table, he says. Just tell him a little bit about myself to start with.
I tell him, ‘I’m an old woman. I wear comfortable clothes. Serve my tea in a
teapot. Never drink co ee. I’ve lived here
all my life. Worked as a secretary for most
of it. My husband died  ve years ago. I have two children. My father was a civil servant. My mother stayed at home and cooked and cleaned. When I was a child we had an inside bathroom and plenty of food to eat. I had my own bed and wore shoes to school.’
He tells me that they want to put up a plaque in memory of Miss Pymm and I shiver at the name: her waved yellow hair, her
red lips. Prim and proper with  rm pointed breasts and bony  ngers and long nails. She taught me Gym and Geography, I tell him. I was good at both those things once.
He asks me if she was a good teacher.
‘I learnt what I needed to learn,’ I say.
I don’t tell him about that day when I struggled and kicked as she held my head under the water because I couldn’t swim a length of the pool like the other girls in the class.
He asks me if she was strict.
And I say, ‘We did as we were told.’
I don’t tell him about that day I forgot
my gym kit and she made me strip naked
in front of the others and locked me in a cupboard and didn’t let me out until the end of the school day.
‘You owe your life to her,’ he says and pauses. ‘ at day she saved you from the  ood, would it be too painful to talk about?’
S
 e sound of its mewing broke my heart.
It was the only one left from the litter; the others were likely to have gone into a sack weighted with stones and into the river. And as soon as I saw it I said I’d take it home. I could look after it. And I took it and tried to hide it in my school bag.
I made it through the morning. We’d
omeone had brought a kitten into school that day. A tiny thing. Shiny blue-black like a crow.  e softest fur.
24 Dec/Jan/Feb 2017/18 mslexia
PHOTO: TANYA MAY / SHUTTERSTOCK


































































































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