Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “Excerpt from the novel Float Me Away, Floodwaters”

Home on the farm. Quiet days while the rain keeps coming. The fields in the lowlands flood until taking the highway to the city is like driving on a land-bridge over a dead ocean. The summer corn crop is ruined. Fields are left unplanted. The Missouri River keeps rising. It crests the banks at the Fort and floods the campground. The schools close. Roads close. Ranchers move their cattle and horses to higher ground. A Kansas City Star newspaper article reads, “Serenity Ranch owner Clint Nimmo said the flood was like a scene out of a horror movie.” “Nimmo said spiders and centipedes were crawling up the walls and onto their backs to escape the water.” Headlines read, “Who is to blame for the floods?” and “Cost of river flooding already tops $1 billion.” On Saturday I get a check for books sold to balance out my negative account. I leave the farm and drive to the grocery store in town with my wipers beating side to side, but I can’t see much beyond the front of my car. Standing in the freezer section looking at the tater tots I hear an older man say into his phone, “This whole damn world’s gone to hell and I know why.” I listen for the why, but he starts talking about microwaveable chicken instead. “What you gotta know ‘bout microwaveable chicken is it’s all in the technique. Microwaveable chicken ain’t any worse than normal chicken if you’re smart about it. There’s a trick to the settings. You cook it on Popcorn setting for the first minute then Roast for the next minute then Potato for the rest. It’s a game you gotta play.” I buy sourdough bread, avocados, tater tots, red grapes, limes, spinach, corn tortillas, pinto beans, mushrooms, vegetable bouillon, black olives, Ragu marinara sauce, Barilla angel hair pasta, and a jar of my favorite MaraNatha almond butter I can never afford. –Adam Gnade

Purchase books by Adam Gnade here.