Thirsty | Teen Ink


May 29, 2014
By BNeal232 BRONZE, Gray, Maine
BNeal232 BRONZE, Gray, Maine
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Everyone was thirsty. No matter who you asked, or where you went, everyone wanted water. I wanted it too. I was always thirsty, and the people in the camp never gave us anything to drink. I saw a man tackle and hurt the people who gave us food and water once. He was old, his hair was gray, and the bones were sticking out of him. There was an old lady with him too, and she looked just like him. He yelled and screamed, and my Dad pulled me away before I ever saw what happened to the old man. He plugged my ears, too, and when he unplugged them, all I could hear was the old lady crying. I never saw the man again, and my Dad never told me what happened.

My Dad always told me that when he was little, people had gigantic pools of water in their backyards. The kids would swim around and play in them, and they would laugh and splash around. He told me that people got their water from pipes in their houses, and they could drink it whenever they wanted. They didn't have camps like we do. There were also rivers and lakes that people would take boats on, and there were even animals that lived under the water. My Dad called them "fish", and he told me that he would always catch them with his friends when he was a kid.

I always asked my Dad why we didn't have the things he had, and why there was no water and no food anymore, and why the ground was so dry, and why the camp people wore helmets and armor. He always told me that I ask "why?" too much, but I wanted to know these things. Sometimes he wouldn't answer any of my questions, but other times he would put his arm around me, stay quiet for a few seconds, and then start to talk. He told me that there wasn't a lot of water left in the world anymore because people used too much of it. After a while, people started to fight over it, and that's why we live in the camp.

I don't remember a lot of things before coming to the camp. I remember that we lived in a small house with my Mom and a lot of other people. There was barely any room in the house, and people had to sleep on the floor most of the time. It was always very dirty, but my Mom and Dad always told me that we had no other place to go. One night, I woke up and heard loud, scary noises outside. They sounded like gigantic earthquakes, and I remember sitting up in my bed, crying and yelling for my Mom and Dad. They ran right over to me, picked me up, and took me outside. All of the people in the house were leaving, too. I was so scared.

There were flashing lights in the sky, and the earthquake sounds were getting louder and louder. People were yelling and screaming, and a house next to ours' was on fire. An airplane flew right over us, and it made the ground shake. We kept running and running, and I held on to my Dad. I remember seeing someone lying on the sidewalk. She was crying really loud, and it looked like she was reaching for something with one of her hands. I heard her scream someone's name. No one was going to help the person. I saw some people run right over her.

A green truck with a big "U" and a big "N" on the back was waiting for us down road, and people with helmets and armor were rushing us inside. There was a huge line, and people were pushing and shoving. It looked like the truck was almost full of people. We were one of the last ones in, and the the people closed the doors shut when we got inside. Not everyone made it in with us. I remember seeing people banging on the doors with their hands. I heard them screaming and crying, but the truck went without them. I have a lot of nightmares about what I saw on that night.

Once, I asked my Dad why we had to leave the house. He thought about it for a minute, and then began to stomp his foot on the ground. He told me that under our feet, there was a lot of water, and that it was the only "special" kind of water left in the world. He called it the "Last Great Aquifer", and he said that all of the people in the world were fighting over it. I asked him why the whole world was here, and he got really quiet for a few minutes. I looked at his face, and he looked very sad. I thought he wasn't going to answer my question, but he did. "Everyone is thirsty, Robert," he said, "there are children just like you in far away places that want water too, but we also need the water. They aren't fighting because they're angry with us. They just need to live, like we do."

One day, my stomach started to hurt really bad because we hadn't gotten anything to eat in a while. I couldn't walk, and I cried all day long. I asked my Dad why we couldn't have any food, and he told me that the people we were fighting took it away. When he told me that, I got really upset. "I'm so hungry!" I yelled, "Why can't they give us any food?! Why?!" He paused and reminded me that there were children around the world who needed food and water like I do. "I don't care about the other children!" I screamed, "I want them to die so we can eat! I'm so hungry, Dad!" I don't remember much after that. I think I fell asleep, but before I did, I saw my Dad sitting next to my bed, crying. His hands were covering his face, and he was shaking very bad. I didn't know adults cried until then.

My Mom always sung me songs before I went to bed.
She would also play this game with me where she counted my fingers, and then she would tell me the wrong number, even though I knew how many fingers I had. It made me laugh a lot. One morning, I woke up, and saw my Mom laying in her cot, and Dad had his hand on her forehead. It looked like she was shivering, although she was covered in blankets. My Dad quickly ran outside, and soon, he was back with another man, one of the people who lived near us. He was holding wet pieces of cloth, and putting them on my Mom's forehead. The man also asked her a bunch of questions, a lot of them being about the water we were drinking. We would get a small jug everyday, and the jug we had now was kind of brown, even though you couldn't really see it very well. The man took our water and poured it outside the door. He said that it made my Mom very sick.

My Dad took care of her everyday, but she just got sicker and sicker. Sometimes, he would just sit next to her cot and hold her hand. I asked him when Mom was going to feel better, and he always told me that it would be very soon. Everyday, my Mom and I would play the finger game by her bedside, and after the game, she would always kiss me on the head and say "Mommy loves you, Robert."

One night, I woke up very late. I couldn't see very well, but I could see my Dad sitting next to my Mom's cot. He had his head close to her's, and his hand was moving across Mom's hair. I could hear him whispering things into her ear, and he soon started crying. "I love you, Anna," I heard him say once. He then ran out of our house, and I could hear him yelling. I started to get really scared. Was Dad okay? Was Mom alright? I didn't know what was going on.

A few minutes later, my Dad ran back into the house. He was still crying. There were two camp people following him, and they were wearing black armor. They were also carrying a big, white bag. The two men went over to my Mom and looked at her body. They didn't say anything, and you couldn't see their faces. My Dad was sitting in the corner of our house, and his hands were covering his face. He was crying really hard, now. They took the bag, and started to put my Mom's body in it. She didn't even move at all. That's when I started screaming and crying. I got right out of my cot and started hitting the camp people. "Don't take her away!" I screamed, "Why are you taking my Mom?! Why?! Why?! Why!?" When they saw me, one of them kicked me in the belly, and I fell down on the ground. It hurt really bad. My Dad picked me up and brought me to the corner with him. "No! No! No! No!" I yelled. The camp people took her away. I never saw my Mom again after that.

My Dad and me sat in the corner for the whole night. He hugged me really tight, and we cried and cried. I remember him whispering things into my ear. "You're all I have left," he whispered. "I love you so much, Robert." I fell asleep, so I don't remember much after that. I miss my Mom a lot.

It's been a long time since my Mom went away. There were big trucks in the camp this morning. They were taking people away. I asked my Dad if we were going on one of the trucks, and he told me that we would be soon. I asked him where we were going, and he said he didn't know. He didn't answer my questions very much anymore. He would just smile and say "Don't worry about it, Robert."

One of the trucks pulled up to our house just before the sunset. Two people wearing black armor came out, and told us to get inside. We did, and the truck started moving once my Dad and me sat down. There were a lot of other people in the truck, too. They looked just like us, and there were other kids with their parents.

I looked out the window of the truck, and saw the sun go down. It was big and yellow, and it made the sky glow up before nighttime. We were out of the camp now, and we were driving across a big desert. I miss my Mom a lot. I want her to still be here so that we can play the finger game together, and so that she can sing to me before I go to bed, and so that she can give me hugs. I wish she could've been with Dad and me.

I don't know where we are going, but I hope it's nice. I hope that there is a lot of water, a lot of food, and maybe even birds. The last time I saw birds was a long time ago, and I haven't seen them for awhile. I always wished that I could fly like a bird. Maybe instead of being thirsty, everyone could've just flew away. My Dad told me that birds do that when it gets cold, they fly away to other places. Maybe Dad, Mom, and me could've gone to those places, too.

I turned around to my Dad. He was looking down. "Dad…are we going to be okay?" I asked. He waited for a minute, with a sad look on his face, but then smiled. "Yes, we're going to be fine." He laughed a little bit after that. "You ask too many questions, Robert."

The author's comments:
I got the inspiration for this story from learning about the water crisis in my Environmental Systems and Societies class. I wanted to make my story unique by telling it through the eyes of a child who is trying to make sense of his traumatic reality. Robert is loosely based off my younger self, since my understanding of reality was based off the questions I asked my parents when I was young.

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This article has 1 comment.

KylieK GOLD said...
on Jun. 20 2014 at 8:54 pm
KylieK GOLD, Mt. Washington, Kentucky
11 articles 0 photos 270 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To love is to surpass one's self."

Captivating. I was hanging on every word.