Pembroke Pines, FL
2021, Junior, Creative Writing
When it comes to my water, I can explain it through all five senses. How when I see its brown tint, it reminds me of my milk chocolate complexion. How I can hear it rushing out of my sink that looks a day from falling apart. Taste the bland earthiness. Feel it when I bathe, when it leaves particles that I brush off my body. I actually can’t smell it on most days, but the smell doesn’t bother me or anyone but my mom. Weirdly enough, sometimes I catch my mom looking somewhat worriedly at the water, as if she’s disappointed in it. I don’t really get how you can be disappointed in water, but hey, adult stuff.
But one day when I finished school and was walking back home, I passed that neighborhood. It always looked like a different world to me. All those big houses with colorful plants. Seems like something I couldn’t imagine living in, similar to dollhouses in the windows of toy stores. I never liked looking too long, because it felt kinda forbidden in a way.
But this time I saw something that made me look longer. There was a tiny black thing sticking out of the suspiciously vibrant grass, and this girl was running circles around it with a happy expression on her face. How could running around in circles be so fun? Then the sun came out of the clouds and… it might have been a trick of light, but I saw something that came out of the black thing and was making the girl look wet, like after a shower. Curiosity gripped my heart as I found my voice and yelled, “Hey, what’s that thang you playin’ with?” The girl stopped and looked at me, processed my question, then twisted her face as she said, rather rudely, “What do you mean? It’s water.” Then she ran into her house, like something was chasing her.
If my math homework made me confused, this was worse. How could that be water? 1) It was clear (water wasn’t clear, are you kidding me?). 2) If it was water, why did it come out of that black thing? (And, on an unrelated note, that girl looked like she was having fun, so why did she go back inside? The sun’s still out.)
I got home, tried doing my homework, and when mom got home late (like she always does), I talked to her about it. Her face froze, then turned into that expression I catch her pulling when she’s staring at our water. How could she be disappointed in my story, I thought, I told it really well. She took a deep breath and muttered, “I didn’t think I’d have to tell you at this age.” She sits me down, then goes into a lecture that was not only short but also confusing. So, I’m brown like chocolate, right? That girl isn’t, and that’s why our water is different. See, it’s practically nonsense. But my mom was close to tears after she finished and told me she’d tell me more when I’m older (like about where babies come from). She went to her room, her face looking wobbly.
Getting out of my chair, I went to my sink and turned it on with a cringing squeak; brownish water poured out into my cupped palm. I stared at it for awhile. If her water is clear, then what does it taste like? Does it even have a taste? That girl looked so happy playing with her water, and I’m never smiling that much in the shower (especially with how cold the water gets). It’s like she loved the water. What’s so special about it anyway? When I get sick, mom doesn’t even let me near it, and my stomach bugs have been getting bad lately.
Strangely enough, my mom’s voice carries through walls, and she’s praying about the water. She only prays when something is wrong. The water in my hand started vibrating because my hands were shaking. I’m scared. Of my water. My water is scary. Why can’t I be happy about my water like her. Why does she not get scary water? Does my water make me scary; is that why the girl ran into her house? There’s a quiet plop sound—it’s a tear that fell from my eyes. My mom comes out of her room and runs to hug me. She whispers, “It’s okay, things will get better.” But with the edge in her voice, I knew she was lying.
“Global WASH Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html#:~:text=An%20estimated%202.2%20billion%20people,access%20to%20safely%20managed%20sanitation. Accessed 1 June 2021.
“Drinking Water.” World Health Organization, UN Water, 14 June 2021, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water.
As a young African-American girl, the struggles of my people have been a constant in my life. I was blessed with extremely hard-working parents, who were able to build themselves up and give me a better life than they had. But the fact is that even people in my own family don’t get that privilege. Doing this research, I learned about the hard facts on how water isn’t a few steps away in their house or in their refrigerator. It’s unimaginable for some people, and I can't live in luxury knowing that. I learned about how there are things that live in water. Bittersweet is the only word that can explain how I felt writing this and during my research. There are so many young kids (like the one in this story) who live knowing that their water is dangerous for them, but they can’t live without it. I want people to see a perspective on those vulnerable people that they barely think of. Kids who face the world's dark reality too early in their lives. Water is an undeniable right, because it’s right to be alive and healthy, and it’s devastating how for many, it’s not an option. I will now try my hardest to donate to charities, send resources to my family back in Haiti, and spread awareness.