I was so tired. Every part of me was tired. You may be tired now, after the walk you’ve been on with me, but this was an exhaustion unlike any I’d ever felt before. It seeped into my bones. I walked, dragging one foot after the other, and dragging the other bits of me along too. I dragged myself home.
If you can call it going home. The house was waterlogged. Everything we owned – if it hadn’t been taken by the sea – was dripping wet, and stank of brine. I tried to tidy up, I really did, but there didn’t seem much point without Mam there. In the end, me and Betsi sat on the damp stone floor and waited.
It was our neighbour who found us. She had been in the village square when the sea had come, and she’d climbed to the roof of the tavern with half a dozen others who’d managed to get there in time. She’d watched as half the village was swept away, as livestock and crops and trees and people went sailing past in the floodwater.
“Come to the church, Chicken,” she said to me. “There’s a fire lit, and hot drinks, and warm clothes. We’ll take care of you now.”
“I’ll come soon,” I told her. “I just need to wait for a bit.”
She tried and tried, but eventually she went away, clucking her tongue in frustration.
I didn’t want to tell her that the reason I was waiting was for Mam to come back. I knew she’d think I had lost my mind. The people who had been taken by the sea would not come back. The sea had them now.
But I couldn’t tell her that Mam was different. Mam knew things that other people didn’t. She was clever. She would find a way to come back to me.
I don’t know how long I waited for. I fell asleep again, for a long, long time. Perhaps I slept for days. Weeks, maybe.
There’s only one bit of story left. I don’t know if I’m ready to say goodbye to you just yet. Why don’t you take your time as you walk to the final place? Take your time, and think of me, sitting there on the cold stone floor, waiting and hoping. It was the longest wait of my whole life.