H-2-U | Teen Ink


April 15, 2023
By AllyHowell SILVER, Newington, Connecticut
AllyHowell SILVER, Newington, Connecticut
8 articles 0 photos 0 comments

My name is River. We live in the year 2075. In this modern world, water is the second most needed thing in the world. Aside from money. I work for a water delivery service known as H-2-U. A long time ago, juices became too difficult to make due to climate change and lack of people willing to grow plants. Not long after, a wealthy leader decided that water was extremely profitable and kept it from the general public. The only way to obtain drinking water today is by paying me for the water I deliver, which feeds the corporation even more. No money, no water. But, honestly, sometimes I find it okay to bend the rules a bit. 

Today is a Monday morning. I grab my six boxes filled with water bottles from H-2-U, put on my shoes, and leave to keep the world moving and hydrated. My first delivery is to a light blue painted home with a well-kept lawn in the front and a beautiful white door with a large glass oval window in the center of the door. Next to the door was a small white doorbell. I pressed the button gently and heard a subtle ring. As I saw movement through the sparkling glass, a woman opened the door and reached for money from her pocket. She handed me enough money for a box worth of water.

“Just one box, please.” She said softly.

“Yes, ma’am.” I said, giving her a box.

I helped her carry the box into her home since she was alone and seemed to need the help. She gave me a generous tip for doing so. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with everyone. After all, I’m just water delivery. I’m no angel. 

“Will you be back again tomorrow?” She asked.

“Yes,” I replied. “Five days a week.”

“Okay,” She said as she smiled at me. “Thank you.”

“No problem, ma’am.” I said. “Have a nice day.” 

“You too.” She said as she closed the door.

This was the average exchange between me and a customer. I appreciated the normalcy.

However, the next house seemed like a home to someone with more money than they knew what to do with. It was a massive white house with big, open windows lit up with golden lights from within the house. It was such a big house that I almost had trouble finding the front door. But when I did, I had to walk for a while until I reached the entrance. The door was in perfect scale to the rest of the house. It was two tall double doors in dark, gorgeous wood. Next to these doors was a glistening golden doorbell. I carefully rang the doorbell. I heard five loud and luxurious rings echo throughout the home. A man in a suit opened the door. I was supposed to tell him why I was there, but the man who opened the door intimidated me to the point where I froze in place for a moment.

“Hello,” He said firmly. “Are you the water delivery?”

“Yes,” I said. “How many boxes would you like?”

“I’d like five.” He said.

“Uh,” I said nervously. “Sir, we have a limit of-”

“I said I’d like five.” He said with enough money in his hand to buy twenty boxes if I had them with me.

“Sir,” I said, trying to stand my ground and failing horribly. “I can’t-”

“Listen,” He said while giving me a stern look and counting the money in his hand. “I can take care of this.”

“No!” I shouted. I calmed myself down before speaking again. “I mean, no thank you, sir. I’m just doing my job and-”

“It seems like there’s no speaking to you.” He said angrily.

He took five boxes from me in an instant and gave me the money for each one before I could react. I completely froze once again. No tip, but I was just grateful that all I needed to give up were two boxes over our limit. I went silent. I just took my final box and left. Oh well. I can’t worry about it too much. I moved on to the next and last house for the day. It was a worn-down light pink home with a few windows with a neat, beautiful, and growing garden in the front. I was impressed, as growing plants in this ruined climate was truly a task. Around the backyard was a swingset, a small slide, and toys playfully littered all over the grass.

I walked up to the front door on the sidewalk that was being invaded by grass through the cracks in the ground. The door was a faded white with paint peeling off, revealing the wood underneath it. I rang the doorbell. It was worn down and took a lot of pressure to ring. The doorbell created a ring that sounded like it was almost out of energy. The door slowly creaked open and a woman opened the door with children running and screaming behind her.

“Oh,” She said, almost half asleep. “Hello.”

“Hello, ma’am,” I replied, trying not to be distracted by the children behind her. “Do you need a water delivery?”

“Uh,” She said anxiously. “I… I do, but I’m not sure if I can afford it.”

“Oh, I understand,” I told her. “I could just-”

“No, no, please,” She pleaded. “Don’t leave with it, please… caring for my children since I lost my job has been a nightmare, just… please…”

She was quickly beginning to panic as she held her hands up to her chest in fear of what would happen if her family went without water. I was trying to sound sympathetic, but she must have taken it as being passive-aggressive. I wasn’t preparing to leave with what she needed, even if she couldn’t afford it. I understood her panic.

“Oh, ma’am,” I said, speaking faster in hopes she’d let me finish my sentence and in hopes that she would stop pleading to me. “I wasn’t going to leave you, I was going to tell you I could give it to you and you can keep your money.”

“Really?” She asked me with a smile growing on her face. “I mean, you don’t have to if it’s an issue…”

“No, ma’am,” I said calmly. “I insist, honestly. I don’t want you to have to panic this way.”

I brought her my last box and she took it with a massive amount of gratitude.

“Thank you,” She said happily. “Thank you so much, sir.”

“Oh, you don’t have to call me sir,” I told her. “You can just call me River.”

“Well then,” She said with a bright smile. “Thank you, River. You can call me by my name too. My name is Emmallia.”

“Ah,” I said. “That’s a pretty name. Have a nice day, Emmallia.”

“You too,” She replied. “Thank you so much, River. I mean it.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, smiling for the first time today. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.” She said, closing the door. 

I walked peacefully down the sidewalk. The house had a different appearance now, knowing what goes on there. I left the home and made my way down the road to get to the facility I work at. At the end of every workday is a time for me to visit the water delivery company and give them their profits. I entered the daunting building. It was a glossy black exterior with a marble and gold theme inside. The ceilings were taller than the sky and the rooms stretched for what seemed like miles. I walked up the stairs and entered the office delivery management, the person responsible for sending me out on my deliveries every day. I placed the money on the desk in silence and I almost left to go home when I heard my name being called.

“River.” He said sternly.

“Yes?” I said, turning around quickly and nervously.

“You sold seven boxes of water supply today, yes?” He asked.

I knew I couldn’t lie to him. There would be no working in the water delivery facility for me if I lied. So I was honest.

“Yes,” I said, trying to hide my fear. “I did.”

“Why is there only enough profit for six boxes here, then? What happened to the rest of the profit?” He asked.

Uh oh.

“Well,” I replied. “There was a woman with a familywho couldn’t afford a box. I gave it to her for free because she really needed it. Sorry.”

“You gave a box away for free? You don’t have the ability to do that!” He shouted.

“I don’t have the ability, but it was an emergency. I couldn’t leave her house without giving her the water her family needed!” I shouted back.

“You can’t be giving away water!” He said angrily.

“I had to. It’s a human necessity.” I replied, trying to keep calm.

“We decided a long time ago that it’s not. If you’re going to claim that it is, then you’ll need to find us something better to deliver, like juice.” He said, finally calming down.

“Juice?” I asked. “Juice is nearly impossible to make, how are we going to sell juice?”

“Exactly. If you can’t sell anything else, stop giving away what we have. Simple as that.” He said.

I froze for a few moments to think. Juice. What if we actually could sell juice to make water accessible again? I thought about how I’d even get juice. Juice requires fruit. Fruit requires growing. Growing requires someone with an ability to grow plants despite the difficulty. Someone like that would own a garden. A garden… just like the one that the woman in the pink house had in her front yard. At that moment, it hit me.

“I know how we can sell juice,” I said proudly. “I’ll be back tomorrow. You’ll see.”

“Whatever,” He said, rolling his eyes. “Good luck with that.”

I rushed back to Emmallia’s home and rang the doorbell with more pressure this time and excitement like a little kid. She opened the door and her face lit up when she saw me.

“Welcome back, River!” She said excitedly. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon! What brings you back here?”

“Emmallia, I have great news for you!” I shouted. “I think I might know a way for you to get a new job. A really, really good one.”

I told her about how we could possibly make juice to sell in place of water. As it turns out, I was right. She does grow her garden perfectly. She told me that all of her plants have been growing properly, including fruit that could be made into juice.

My plan could work and make water available again.

“So,” She said. “I would be able to work for the company?”

“If you can supply them with juice for the first time in decades, then yes, I’m sure of it.”

“Do they pay well?” She asked, looking back at the toys scattered on the floor inside.

She was more concerned for her family than herself, and I could tell. If I could get a woman like this a good job, I’d be happy for the rest of my life.

“Absolutely,” I said with confidence. “I’ve only known you for a short time but I feel like I know what you need. Can you meet me at my office at 11 am tomorrow?”

I told her about the H-2-U delivery building and where I would be. It wasn’t really my office, it was the place I pick up my deliveries, but I could call it my office for now. 

“Yes I can,” She said excitedly. “Thank you again, River. You’re an angel.”

I smiled as she shut the door, and I went home. The next morning, I was at the office building at 10. By 11, she wasn’t there. 

She wasn’t there.

I got worried. I left the building and searched for her outside. I couldn’t see her there, either. I began to panic.

But then, in the distance, I saw someone slowly walking.

It was her.

I ran over to her because she seemed like she was having trouble getting to the building.

“Do you need any help?” I asked, holding out my hand for her.

She took my hand.

“Yes,” She replied as she was trying to catch her breath. “I was up for hours trying to find a babysitter and I had to walk because I don’t have a car.”

I think she saw the empathy I had for her and felt bad that she mentioned anything. 

“I mean, walking is good though,” She said, trying not to upset me. “Walking is very good.”

I could tell she was trying to act like she was okay, but I saw right through that.

“Oh,” I said, disappointed with the fact that I didn’t think of this being a problem beforehand. “I could have helped, you should have told me.”

“No, no,” She said, shaking her head. “You didn’t have to help me with any of that. You’ve helped me enough. Thank you.”

We walked together to the delivery building. When we got there, I began to tell her where she should go to present the idea of replacing water with juice.

“We should both go to the delivery management office,” I told her. “The delivery manager is my boss, so if our idea passes them, we can get to the manager of H-2-U.”

“The manager of H-2-U, huh?” She asked in amazement. “I can’t believe I’m here. I know I’ve said this a lot, but thank you, River.”

“You’re welcome,” I said, smiling at her. “But we really need to get to the office.”

We made our way from the delivery area to the delivery management office. Sure enough, the man who told me that selling juice was impossible was going to hear about our plan to sell juice. We both walked into the office.

“Hello, sir,” I said. “I have someone here that wishes to present an idea to you. If you approve of it, we will take it to head management.”

“Okay,” He said, looking into Emmallia’s eyes.  “I’m listening.”

I asked Emmallia if she would like to present this idea herself, without me. She said that was fine. So I walked out of the room and shut the door, resisting the urge to eavesdrop. 

“Thank you, sir.” She said as she walked out of the office, preserving her excitement. I could immediately tell by the look on her face that the idea was approved. In an instant, she started jumping up and down in absolute excitement.

“Emmallia, wait, before you start celebrating,” I said, trying to calm her down without killing the mood. “You still have to present the idea to head management.”

We walked through the building to the office of head management. Before opening the door, we both stopped for a moment.

“Can you present the idea yourself again?” I asked. “I don’t want to leave you on your own like this, but I really want you to take full credit.”

“Yes,” She replied. “I’m ready.”

She stepped into the office and she was there for a while. I waited patiently outside the door, trying not to eavesdrop again. I looked around the room and thought about how different the world would be if our idea passed. She was in the office for about half an hour. Then, she stepped out slowly before closing the door.

“Thank you, sir. I understand.” She said with a stern look on her face.

She closed the door and turned to me. 

“So?” I asked nervously.

“So,” She said. “They approved my idea! They’re changing H-2-U to Juice-2-U. Not as good of a name, but we did it!”

 Just as I thought her idea was denied, She began to jump, spin and cheer. 

“So… water isn’t going to be delivered anymore?” I asked. “We freed water?”

“In a sense, yes, River.” She replied with a smile brighter than the sun. “We have freed water.”

We have freed water.

The author's comments:

This is a short story I made using a prompt from Reedsy. The prompt was to write about someone whose job it is to bring water to people.

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