"It just means we never had to worry about floods because we lived on the ridge," I said.
I don't reckon Hank had thought about floods in Gap Creek until then. We had moved there in early fall when it was dry. The little creek had behaved itself, staying in the bed of rocks that run like rough cobblestones between the fields and woods, twisty as a playful kitten. I could see by the look on his face how he thought for the first time of the narrowness of the valley and how close the house was to the creek.
"We are a good ways back from the creek," I said.
"Not far enough," Hank said.
I had hoped we would be feeling some Christmas cheer, but instead a wet, gray gloom had descended over us.
"If the creek rises we could climb up the mountain tomorrow and visit Mama and my sisters," I said.
"If the creek rises we won't be able to get out of the house without a boat," Hank said. He said it like he was talking about the end of the world. He said it like Ma Richards would have said it, like there was no hope anywhere.
"This house has been here a long time," I said. "It must have seen a lot of floods and not washed away yet."
But Hank didn't answer. He buried his face between his hands.
"Do you think we might ought to go on up the mountain tonight?" I said.
"We can't leave the horse and cow here," Hank said.
"We can take the horse," I said. "And we can leave the cow if we have to."
"I don't think anything but a fish could travel in this rain," Hank said.
When I went out to the back porch to get water to wash the dishes, it was raining hard as ever. In the dark you couldn't see nothing but lamplight shining on falling drops. It was like the air was sheets and curtains of falling water. Rain was coming down in ropes and clots and tattered rags of water. It felt like the sky was falling and the weight of the rain was pushing everything down to the ground, down the hill, down the valley.