Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One Noah, His Noah

He brought in his shirt pocket the last photograph he'd taken of his son. It wasn't even the original print; that had been destroyed in the flood. Somehow the negative had found him, or he had found it, stuffed in with assorted junk trinkets in a shoebox that had miraculously survived the water that had ruined everything else, that had taken everything else from him.

The water that had taken Noah away.

He wanted to curse God at the same time he wanted to laugh. One Noah, who had built an ark to survive a great forty-day flood. His Noah, who had drowned in a two-day downpour that swelled the banks of the nearby Standish River and flooded the city as never before in history. One Noah, a man approaching grizzled age, with three sons to help him follow God's will. His Noah, a man barely twenty-two, with his whole life ahead of him.

His Noah was a strong swimmer, always had been. How he'd chuckled at that when His Noah was a boy of five, when he began swimming lessons; at eight, when he'd finally thrown away his snorkel and noseplugs; at ten, when he'd asked for a real swimming coach; at twelve, when he first made the swim team and began competing. The joking comments he'd made to other parents that he wouldn't need an ark to survive a forty-day flood, that he could just swim the whole time. How awful it seemed now, that he'd made those jokes, how cruel it seemed now to have named his only son Noah and cursed him by linking him to floods.

He wanted to curse at God's unfairness to spare One Noah and steal away His Noah. But he wanted to laugh at the irony of it. It was such injustice. He should not want to laugh. His Noah was dead! If he'd named his son Paul or Samuel or David, Mark or Andrew, he could mourn in peace.

He buried his face in his hands, laughing at his tears and crying over his amusement. It made no difference.

A name cannot protect a man.

One Noah, His Noah was written for a First Line Fiction contest.

I believe fully in the power of names, that a name molds the life of the person bearing it. This story is, perhaps, the first stretching in the direction in that line of thought.

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