he large, round windows set into the offices had always seemed like portholes. Now, after the flood, that's what they were. When the water had rushed through the streets, knocking down streetlights and telephone poles, carrying with it trash cans and cars and recycling bins, the walls had creaked with the weight of it. People had huddled in chairs on or desks, eyes closed, waiting for some kind of end. There had been a great screeching and tearing, support beams splitting. The entire office broke free of its cement moorings. The great wave stripped away outside layers until, through the windows, the people inside could see everything swimming past: toy cars, basketballs, sodden newspapers and benches. The wooden beams that hugged the straining walls were soaked through with salt and spray. Fish swept to the middle of the city by this extent of ocean slid curious faces along the walls as the people inside peered back.
As the water calmed, and the office was buoyed up to the surface, several people climbed up to the roof exit. The sun was sinking down into the water. Pinks and blues and muddy purples crept higher over the makeshift boat. The few who had emerged stood on the rooftop, figureheads, watching the light disappear.