She radiated a thousand colors, ivory pearls, scarlet lipstick, wild green nails; fingers smelt of oil and metal, her heels the tick to the tock of the City Hall clock. Always had on those black Chanel shades, the tinted windows of a limousine that held beautiful lies within. This foreign mystery was a local obsession, but the odd thing is, no one ever figured out her name.
Legend has it that the woman landed in the airport with a snakeskin duffel bag and a burgundy suitcase on New Years Day. A taxi driver took her to an apartment building in downtown, where she paid him a generous amount, with the Kuwaiti Dinar.
“I stared at the hundred dollar bill in my hand in shock,” Navdeep would later tell the news, but by the time I looked up, she had disappeared.
The mystery woman would drop cash on the sidewalks like a male peacock carelessly shedding feathers when the mating season was over. Soon, she became known as YYC’s jazziest resident, a sensation that rocked the city to its core.
No one dared question this savvy independent woman, instead, observing in awe at the magical way she would hold herself. Although most of her clothes appeared to be stolen from the closet-rooms of opulent businessmen, she boldly draped shoulder-padded blazers over her bony frame and strutted by the Bow River while the Chinook winds carried her Axe cologne into the passerby’s nose.
Her takeover of the city was like boiling maple syrup seeping through packed snow. Security guards came to attention as she brisked by. Brass doors opened to rooms she did not want to enter. Teenage girls emulated her, shopping for pantsuits and man purses as if they had been forever. After February passed, Calgary wanted to know more about her. In a city of 1.2 million people, everyone wants to know everything, especially if it is meant to be hidden, but very few details about her life were known. She did not come to Calgary to visit any family, was single, did not work, lived in suite 235 on the 70th floor of her apartment building, and bought a caramel ice frappuccino on Mondays from Tim Hortons.
The list was growing day by day, and by the end of April, she had her own section on the City of Calgary website and was featured every day on CTV News. The city was beckoning her with open arms. However, very few noticed her peculiarities.
She stopped handing out money. Instead, she would walk out of her apartment at exactly 8 am every day, barely glancing at the paparazzi, grab food, and walk around the core until the sun was ready to fall behind the Rockies. She held herself with the poise of a gazelle as she tore through 1st Street and 4th Avenue. People would try to interact with her, but she disdained from answering. The Calgary Tower would be lit up every night, like Jay Gatsby beckoning his Daisy to come out and join the party.
She never did.
June 19, 2013, 10:00p.m.
Her fanbase was growing impatient with her attitude. No one had the right to ignore attention in this city. Enough was enough, and people decided to take what was rightfully theirs. Some wanted money, others wanted an autograph, but everyone looked forward to something that she had the ability to give, but refused to.
One does not simply refuse a Calgarian. Therefore, nothing could stop what happened that night.
A sea of people crashed through the streets on June 19th and set up camp outside of the lobby of her apartment building. There was a slight drizzle, attempting to cool the angry crowd, but their piercing voices echoed up to the seventieth floor. Cameras, reporters, and journalists were ready and documenting everything
“SHOW YOUR PRETTY FACE, COME ON! COME OUT! COME OUT! COME OUT! COME—”
A silence grew, as the clicking of heels increased in volume down the stairwell. They echoed across the entire lobby and the people of Calgary froze. The dim fluorescent lights shuddered like a dancing skeleton, as her bony shadow slowly came into focus. When the door slid open, out came the local celebrity.
No one had ever seen her like this before. Her hair was disheveled, revealing the patches of burnt skin underneath. Without her sunglasses, the emerald stones set in her eye sockets shone where the pupils should have been. She rotated her head, analyzing the crowd, and her lips tugged on the sides, revealing opal white teeth, and peeling gums. The slightest sigh escaped from between the crevices of her fangs. Her right eye rolled behind, and an ink-like substance started to creep from the sides of her cracked and bloody lips. The silk robe that dragged behind like a wedding gown was lifted from the floor as she rose slowly.
At that moment, her neck snapped back, and the sky roared like a starving lion. Seas of droplets sped through the sky and slammed onto the pavement. A maniacal laugh rose out of the caverns of her stomach, and Calgarians ran onto the streets shouting, desperately looking for higher ground.
“On the night of June 19th, 2013, torrential rains begin falling over southern Alberta.”
“IT WAS HER!”
“It was the largest flood in Calgary since 1932. Sadly, five lives were lost and as much as $6 billion in financial losses and property damage were sustained across southern Alberta.”
“WE DEMAND JUSTICE!”
“Heavy rainfall on the melting snowpack in the Rocky Mountains combined with steep, rocky terrain caused rapid and intense flooding in several southern-Alberta watersheds.”
“BAH, BLAMING THE GLACIERS, IT WAS HER! SHE—”
“Evacuees and people whose homes were flooded faced trauma, loss, and either rebuilding or the permanent loss of their home. Flooding disrupted businesses, damaged critical infrastructure and led to power outages across some parts of Calgary.”
“SHE DID THIS TO OUR BELOVED CITY. WE WILL FIND HER AND KILL—”
But they couldn’t, for after the water levels receded, it was as if she drained away with the Bow. She did leave a message burned into the Calgary tower for all residents to see:
I hope and pray that your city drowns in my misery.
The Calgary flood of 2013 was truly a disastrous experience for many families and organizations. From evacuations to unrepairable damage to the zoo, it took millions of dollars for our recovery. Additionally, five lives were lost, and we hope and pray that those families are healing. Calgarians are resilient people, and the way everyone came together in the wake of this crisis is just more proof of the matter.
This story is not meant to poke fun at anyone. I simply thought it would be cool to write a modern “Calgarian myth” relating to a recent natural disaster.