Desert Isle Keeper
Waiting for the Flood
People come as well as go. Twelve years ago, Edwin Tully came to Oxford and fell in love with a boy named Marius. He was brilliant. An artist. It was going to be forever.
Two years ago, it ended. Now Edwin lives alone in the house they used to share. He tends to damaged books and faded memories, trying to build a future from the fragments of the past.
Alexis Hall proves yet again that he can turn his hand to, seemingly, any style, or form of writing. This little gem of a novella is calmly reflective, it feels very personal and authentic, and I can’t count the number of times I have read it now.
The breakdown of Edwin Tully’s relationship with Marius has left him both stuttering in his speech and his ability to move on with his life. The flood of the title is both literal and metaphorical, bringing a hope of salvation in the form of gentle Adam Dacre. The river is breaking its banks and Edwin’s house, along with many others, is in danger of flooding. Adam works for the Environment Agency which is working to reduce the flooding and its effects on the inhabitants of Oxford should the water rise further. Adam is calm, gentle and assured and just the sort of person you’d need in any crisis, whether environmental or emotional.
The paranoias of Edwin are mine, and I suspect representative of those fears and thoughts that many of us keep hidden away inside us. This author has the knack of representing ‘everyman’ and connecting with his readers in a subtle but emotionally hard hitting fashion… this first quote is a universal truth.
You don’t fall in love with a house. You fall in love with the life you could have in it.
This is why it is so hard to remain in a house where a relationship has failed or ended through death; that dream of life stays long after the partner. Which brings me to the only other properly defined character in the story, Mrs P., the adorable, feisty octogenarian who lives next door. She is the cause of a wonderfully sarcastic line of humour when she suggests to Edwin that they wade in the dark through sodden ground in search of the swollen river.
We were going to end up as newspaper headlines: Pensioner and Homosexual Found Dead in River – Coincidence, Tragedy or Satanic Ritual Gone Wrong?
As the reader, we metaphorically trace our way through Edwin’s dreams for his house, in the form of chapter introductions. As often with an excellent example of the novella form, there is so much to discuss that one runs the risk of the review ending up longer than the reviewed. However, this author has written a novella of great profundity, which has made this reviewer think a lot.
In the chapter entitled ‘The Hallway’ we learn that Edwin is not ready for Adam, he is not ready…
To gather up the dust of my heart and scatter it again on the winds of hope.
Okay, I admit it I sighed, and nodded, as I have felt this and I guess many of you have, but it takes a good writer to put our feelings and thoughts into the few words that will make us sigh in recognition. How many of us have thought something along the lines of…
“…give yourself a chance with him.”
“A chance at what?”
“Be with someone again.”…
“W-what if I’m unbeable with?”
This short story covers loneliness, break up, low self-esteem, moving on, the kindness of strangers, love and fear of loss. It transmits the hard issues of a lived life in a short gentle work. There are so many highlighted notes on my Kindle but I had to finish with this one…
Oh, why was it so easy to believe Marius didn’t want me, and so impossible to accept Adam did?
I said aloud in my empty bedroom; ‘This is me,’ and it is. Maybe it’s you, too.