Drop by Drop
“What the hell is all this?”
Sharon stood in front of Richard’s desk. Her skin was wrinkled from dehydration. Her eye sockets were droopy and hardly able to blink. The desk was covered with vials, beakers, and jars full of water.
“I can explain, Sharon,” Richard said, “just give me a minute.”
“You have one minute. Go.”
It was a dark time for everyone. A major soft drink manufacturer had, for lack of a better term, poisoned the entire world’s water supply. It didn’t affect most animals, but it was fatal for human consumption. Through Cola-Co, and only through Cola-Co, could you purchase water for consumption.
Their plan was hastily set in motion so they did not consider the effects it would have on plants; however any that could withstand the additive generally produced poisonous fruit.
They had achieved a monopoly on what was once a natural resource. Now families like Sharon and Richard were only able to pay for a small ration of water per week.
“I’m working on a filter.” Richard said.
“No! Sharon, listen to me! That wasn’t nearly five seconds, give me a chance.”
“I will not. For what little this family gets and you’re hiding it in here, all for yourself?”
“You’re being obtuse. None of this is rationed safe water. This is, or was, dark water.”
“It’s certainly bad enough that you’ve kept this from me, your wife, but out there, your son is dying. He’s so young and he is suffering while you sit here, in a state of delusion, hoarding all of our water!”
Sharon fell to the ground. Her body was crying, but it wasn’t able to produce tears. Not even a sniffle could fill her nose. Her frailty, both physically and mentally, became strikingly obvious.
“Sharon. You must believe me. I’m almost there. The dehydration, it hasn’t got you thinking rationally.”
“Screw you, Richard. I’ve had enough of your lies.”
Sharon slowly returned to her feet. She leaned over the desk and grabbed a vial of water.
“Sharon, it’s not safe yet, do not drink that.”
“You were such an honorable man, Rich. What happened?”
“I’m still that man, I beg of you, do not drink it.”
“And selfish too. Say ‘goodbye’, Richard.”
Sharon threw her head back and poured the vial down her parched mouth.
“NO!” Richard gasped, watching the poison water fill his wife’s throat.
Sharon swallowed the water and looked directly into Richard’s eyes.
“What are you screaming about? It’s fine. You know it’s fine. How sick of a man are you that you’ve kept this from us?”
“I— I would never keep safe water from you. Try and vomit that back up, quickly!” Richard pleaded with his wife.
Sharon grew enraged. She swung her arms around wildly, knocking down all of the water-filled vessels. Some simply knocked over and spilled while others shattered on the floor.
Drop by drop, all of Richard’s work soaked into the floor boards.
“Dammit, Sharon! I was so very close and now you’ve killed us all.” Richard admonished her.
Sharon, losing balance, grabbed the wall.
“Oh God…” She started, “Oh, no, no.”
“Sharon, my love, no!”
The two collapsed into each other’s arms. Her body began to seize as he held her, tighter and tighter.
“I’m— I’m so— I’m so sorry I doubted you, Richard.” She weakly confessed.
Richard held her until the seizures stopped, then gently laid her on the floor.
He grabbed a hammer and proceeded to the area where the vials had dripped into the floor boards and pried up each board. Underneath the boards, dozens of bottles of safe water. Securely sealed in their bottles.
“Well, that was close.” He mumbled to himself.
“Dad! Dad!” His son called from inside the house. “Is Mom there?”
“Stay there, I think I might have found some more water for us.”
Richard grabbed an unbroken vial of dark water and left the room.