When my great aunt Josephine died, her executor informed me that I was now the proud owner of a dugout canoe made by the Chinook peoples of the Pacific Northwest, circa 1897. “Maybe you can donate it to a museum,” he said, aware that Cecilia and I occupied a third-floor walk-up in a building with no elevator. But Cecilia wouldn’t hear of it. “You don’t understand,” she said, cryptically. “There’s going to be a flood.”
A few weeks later, I came home from work to find her sitting in the canoe, holding a small, red neoprene lifejacket. “Where did that come from?” I asked. “The postman brought it instead of the margarita maker we ordered,” she said. “It’s for a dog.” We argued for hours, but nothing could change her mind. “There are no accidents,” she said. “You know that.”
We scoured the kennels, finally settling on a cinnamon Chow Chow who fit the vest perfectly. “Bellissima,” cooed the kennel master, “Little Cenerentola.” Cecilia walked her for hours, looking for the next clue. Books on the breed littered the canoe, their pages drenched in neon yellow highlights. “I’m getting closer,” Cecilia said. “I can feel it.”
In bed, I pondered how long this obsession had really been going on. “Cici, darling,” I said. “When we met at Nantasket and you bought me that Coke. Was it because I was the lifeguard?” She smiled, and kissed me. “Why is anybody attracted to anybody?” she asked, then turned out the light.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of crying. Cecilia was sobbing in the canoe, clutching Little Cenerentola.
“Who died?” I asked.
Cecilia shook her head. “It came to me in a dream,” she said. “When the flood comes—I think we’re supposed to eat her.”
Michael Patrick Brady is a writer from Boston. His work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Phoenix. Find him at www.michaelpatrickbrady.com.