We have settled into a comfortable routine here.
During the day, I spend most of my time in the lower decks feeding the animals and cleaning out their pens. Misha helps with this.
She whistles as she works, and besides the endless drumming of the rain outside, it is really not so bad.
We had dinner with the rest of the family. After three weeks, there isn’t much to say. I report that the lower deck is fine and the animals are eating well. They do the same for the middle and upper decks. We finish our meals in silence.
I don’t know why I keep this diary, recording the mundane details every night before I fall asleep. Nothing new ever happens here.
Today was the same as yesterday.
Clean the lower decks, feed the animals, dinner with the family.
It continues to rain. I looked out of the porthole and everything is almost completely submerged. No houses, no carts, no people. Only the tips of the tallest trees.
After dinner, we were lying in bed in our cabin and Misha nuzzled into me. Soon after, our bodies danced as one in the candlelight while the rain outside continued its ceaseless tune.
It is good to know that candles and a meal are the only requirements for romance here.
Before she fell asleep, Misha said, “Ham-baby, remind me to check the back of the goats’ pen tomorrow. I think I heard some dripping.”
She does that all the time, relegate something to me for remembering. Sometimes, I feel like I should be trotting after her with a notebook and a pen like a personal assistant. It doesn’t matter that she usually remembers before I do, so I don’t have to actually remember it. That just worsens it. It’s like she’s showing off each time, giving me a test she knows I will fail. “Remind me even though I know you’re an idiot who will never remember.”
But I have written this down, so tomorrow I will remember.
I had been too worked up about her reminder trick that I hadn’t considered what she said.
If there is a leak in the goats’ pen, we have a serious problem.
There is a leak in the goats’ pen.
I was able to convince Misha not to tell my father about it. Not yet at least. I get enough flak from him already, and I am not prepared to hear him rant about one more thing that I screwed up. “Look at your brothers, Shem and Japheth, I never have to tell them anything twice. Flawless work from both of them. But with you, everyday it’s a different problem.”
I was in charge of pitching and tarring the ark to make it waterproof. I will take responsibility and fix the leak, no one else needs to know about this.
I remember our first week here. Back before the rain covered everything, back when the houses were still visible, and the people still alive. But with every day that passed, the rain did not stop and you could see people outside start to worry. You could see them start to pile on the roofs of their houses with what little belongings they could rescue. I sat on the bed with Misha and we watched through the porthole as the rain erased our world.
We saw a man and a woman in a canoe laden with fruits. He paddled from the back of the canoe and she, her head bent away from the rain, scooped water out of their boat. We watched as a young boy swam towards them, treading water as he waved and called out to them. He looked exhausted but he made it to the canoe, holding on to the edge to pull himself in.
The woman reached into the bottom of the boat and stood up with an oar in her hand. She bashed his head in before he had a chance to climb in and he disappeared beneath the water.
She brained him without emotion like she had been doing it all day. She put the oar down and continued to scoop water out of the bottom of the boat. Business as usual.
I wondered how much longer she would have to continue to do that, I got up and left to feed the animals.
Misha spent all of that day sitting at the porthole looking out.
That night when I returned, she was crying. I held her, soothing her until she fell asleep.
Then I piled boxes in front of the porthole and kept it covered for the next five days. We could still hear people knocking on the outside, their fists thumping on the cypress wood walls. They would scream, long drawn out wails ending in a gurgle as they were swallowed by the water.
Why am I thinking about this today? Because whenever things start to get tough inside, I can compare myself to those stuck outside and say, it is not so bad.
The leak has gotten worse since we found it. I wedged a bucket underneath the spot and the water drips into the bucket. I have to remember to empty it every few hours otherwise the water starts to spill over into the rest of the pens. We have moved the goats into the next pen with the sheep. It was a tight fit, but they will manage just like the rest of us are doing.
It has been almost a month, how much longer can it continue to rain?
At dinner when my father asked how the mammals were doing, I nodded with food in my mouth and told him everything was great. Misha glanced at me, her eyes filled with a dollop of shame and a dash of regret.
Now as I lie next to her and write this, she pretends to be sleeping.
The division of labour on this ship leaves something to be desired. Japheth is in charge of the birds and he lives on the upper deck with his wife and two children. My father’s cabin is on the upper deck as well. Shem is on the middle deck with his family and they watch the reptiles and amphibians. The middle deck has the common rooms and this is where we meet for dinner.
Misha and I in the lower decks watch the mammals. ALL the mammals.
I would rather watch birds any day. Throw some seeds at them and pick some feathers, how hard can it be? Reptiles and amphibians I’m not so crazy about, but we can do birds easily.
Granted, Shem is also in charge of the health of all the animals, while Japheth and Father tend to crops on the upper deck but they can do that and watch the mammals as well. And how often do we really need someone to look at sick animals?
I am going to complain about it and ask if we can set up a sort of rotation. But if anyone comes down here, I’ll have to explain the leak, so first I’ll fix the leak, then suggest a weekly or monthly rotation schedule. I can’t do this anymore.
Misha read the expression on my face as I got into bed. She sat up, rubbed my back and said, “Don’t worry dear, it’s not so bad. Remember the people outside.”
Fuck the people outside.
Today. Was not a good day.
I decided to fix the leak with some tar pitch. I modified one of the metal pots for use as an oven, loaded it with wood, and packed it tight with hay. I made a hole at the bottom of the pot for the tar to drip out and be collected.
Outside, the rain had built up into a thunderstorm. I could see occasional flashes of lightning through the vents and hear the thunder pound against the outside of the ship.
I put the oven on a tripod and lit a fire beneath it, fanning the coals. The smoke was stifling in the enclosed space. The animals started to get antsy.
Misha sighed with a look on her face that said, “I’ve told you this is a bad idea.”
When the pot was hot enough, the tar started to pool out of the hole into the container at the bottom. I pressed a metal patch against the hole and poured some tar on to seal it.
There was a bright flash from outside, lightning struck close to the ship and the boom of thunder came immediately after. I jumped back as the ark rocked and I bumped against the pot. The tripod under it wobbled. I reached for the pot to steady it and jerked my hand back when it burnt my fingers. The pot rolled off the tripod and fell against the far end of the pen. The coals scattered on the floor of the pen and I kicked at them to put them out. One of the lit coals flew through the bars onto the wool of the sheep and set it on fire.
The pot spilled open and leaked hot tar onto the floor and into the next pen where the ram was burning. The smell of burning flesh overwhelmed the smell of tar.
I stomped out the coals and Misha appeared with a bucket of water to douse the ram, but that wasn’t enough. The tar ran along the floor of the adjoining cages setting fire to everything it touched. The fire spread quickly through the panicked animals.
I screamed to Misha to bring more water, she yelled back that it was over and it was time to ask for help. Even though I told her I had it under control, she ran upstairs to get my brothers.
The total damage was 17 dead animals.
I have been banished by my father. I write this now as I float tethered to the ark on a makeshift raft. I have a tarp for cover and the sound of the rain on it is that of a man pissing on my head from a great height.
Misha did not say anything as I packed a few things and was escorted off the ship. I wanted to hold her and tell her she is the only woman in the world for me. Because, you know, she literally is.