Illustrations by Jason Whetzell
I fell three feet and into a puddle of grape-flavored Juicy Juice. Not too much juice, it was probably just from one carton. But this was no ordinary puddle; there was something different about it. I knew that because it told me.
“Hey you! I’m no ordinary puddle!” it said.
“Don’t shout at me! What kind of lady do you think I am?” I sputtered as I rolled over. I just don’t have time for this crap. Last week, for instance, a nasty old ice cube from my soda bit me on the lip.
“You? A lady?” the purple puddle said with a raspy voice. “No kind of lady I know of falls backwards out of windows. Your skirt was over your head.”
Asshole. I scrambled to my feet and walked away. When I turned over my right shoulder to give it the evil eye, I realized it was moving towards me. This crazy ass puddle was following me! I strained my eyes to be sure. It couldn’t be a mirage; I was in the middle of a city. This puddle just snaked its way across the pavement, retracing my footsteps. I started to walk a bit faster. Fast walking turned into speed walking which quickly turned into running. This morning’s banana bread from Mme Bisous was slowing me down, giving me a runner’s stitch.
Do I look behind or don’t I? I raised my hands because that’s what Mr. Cordon from gym class said to do when you get cramps. But shit, he didn’t have a puddle chasing him. I could feel it behind me. Its edges started to wet the backs of my ankles. But then I remembered, like a flash, the story on the news about a man who survived a shark attack by facing and hitting it with his paddle. So, I turned around in one quick, sharp movement and faced the puddle straight on with my hands clenched tight. It stopped dead in its tracks. I was shocked. It actually worked. We stood there, frozen, staring at each other.
“I can’t believe you turned around,” it said, glistening and shimmering in the sunlight.
“The way I see it, you and I have two options,” I shouted. “Number one- we fight, or two- you get the holy hell out of here!” I shouted even louder than the first time, although it came out quite wobbly. I was feeling proud and strong and lion-hearted. But right then, right when I was on top of the world, I saw myself in its shimmering and glistening. It distracted me terribly. It was at this moment of complete distraction that the puddle of purple Juicy Juice slipped away with my reflection still on it. I never considered that a puddle would rob me of my own reflection. Deflated and reflectionless, I walked back home. Now I avoid puddles entirely, shadows too, because you can never be too sure. There’s just too much risk.