The rising heat of Coretta’s fire
isn’t yet, it isn’t yet;
The hope against the rising wind
isn’t yet, that isn’t yet;
The aegises and dragons they
are isn’ts yet, isn’ts yet;
And the angels, and Ginette.
It is May 24, 2004, and Iphigenia wakes up screaming.
Between the Dominican Republic and Haiti runs a river. It is the Soleil, bound to the sun, and the rains have filled it.
It is 2:28 ante meridiem and the waters are rising.
It is 2:33 and the river bursts its banks.
It is 2:34 in the morning, on May 24, 2004, and Ginette’s family is about to die.
Ginette, like Iphigenia, woke up screaming that day. A warning god bit her, right there on the thumb where it hurts the most to have a god unexpectedly bite you in your sleep. She is staggering out of the house and trying to shake it off but it won’t let go because that’s the kind of bitter little warning god she has, like a shiny black snake that lets you know when things are about to go wrong. And she’s glad of it a few seconds later when she sees the water rising.
Ginette is standing straight but her arm is crooked. She broke it a while ago, back before she had a warning god, and it never quite healed straight. She’s wearing a white nightdress. Her red-orange hair is astonishingly clean and neat, considering that she’s just woken up in the middle of the night. And she’s staring at the water coming at her like she really wishes she had one of those warning gods that tells you about these things a little earlier than a black snake can.
“Oh God,” she says.
Her mother, maybe, she can get out. Her father, maybe. He’s kind of old and creaky but he’s got a chance. Their house isn’t very sturdy, it’s mostly wood and sheet metal but some of the bits are cardboard and none of it’s held together that well, so it probably won’t trap him. But Celeste’s too sick. Even if she gets carried out, Celeste won’t make it in this kind of flood.
So Ginette knows what she has to do.
She calls up her aegis. It’s a golden glow that rises all about her, sheeting up from the earth. She calls up her killing god, and she hopes for all she’s worth that he’s up to killing a bloated river-man. She kicks over the stone that gives her wings and she flies out into the flood.
And the water washes over her like a symphony, the deep shifting currents like the bass, the surging foam and twisting water like the violin, and it hits her like the conductor’s hand swatting aside mosquitoes and Ginette thinks this as it washes her away:
“I am worthless.
“I have failed.”
And she would have laughed and laughed if she had been there 2543 years ago when Mr. Kong asked the question, “Are we responsible for the miracles we cannot work?”
‘Cause everybody, but everybody, knows the answer to that.