They had told us this would happen, but we didn’t believe them. We just figured that the government or somebody would fix it. And yes, temperatures were rising, but they weren’t unbearable. And the smoke every summer, that wasn’t so terrible where we lived. Nothing you couldn’t get used to.
Then this morning, I got up and went to the sink to fill up the kettle for coffee. I turned the spigot. Nothing came out. I tried the bathroom sink. Still nothing. I went out to the sidewalk to check the meter and the water line for leaks. Dry as an old bone. My ex-wife, who lived next door, came out and asked me if I had water. I said no. We both checked our phones to see if maybe there was news about the water district rationing water or something like that. Not a word.
“I guess we’ve all just run out of water,” I said to her.
“Well, they have been warning us,” she said. “Can’t blame anyone but ourselves.”
Actually, I thought there were plenty of other people who were more to blame than us. But in a cosmic sense, she was absolutely right.
“I have a case of bottled water in the basement,” I said. “I can make coffee. Want to come over?”
“OK,” she said. “I’ve got some leftover blueberry pie.”
We had coffee and pie. We enjoyed it. Through our whole marriage I’d always made the morning coffee, and she had always made great pie. We talked about our kids, how our daughter Alice was pregnant. We’d each sent money for cribs and strollers. We had both saved toys and books from her childhood, and were ready to deliver them when the baby was born. But we were both thinking the same thing. Why would you bring a child into a world that has run out of water? I was glad it was a question I no longer had to answer.
“Any more pie?” I asked.
“That was the end of it,” she said.
We heard some sirens not too far away.
“Must be a fire somewhere,” I said.
“Yes,” she said. “Something’s burning.”
“We better call Alice,” I said. “We better see if she’s OK.”
By Paul DeLong
On August 24, 2022
“Why would you bring a child into a world that has run out of water? I was glad it was a question I no longer had to answer.” A poignant question. The ending lends a subsequent ominous tone. Let us hope that this not too idle speculation remains fiction for as long as possible. Eerie, and appropriate reflections!