The Soda Fountain

Jenna ambled through the lights and sounds of the carnival, absorbing the fun-filled atmosphere. The festivities covered the county fairgrounds—more than four city blocks. As the night went on, Jenna walked back and forth, going wherever whim or interest took her.

After three hours enjoying herself, she realized she was thirsty.

First she bought a fruit smoothie from a concessions booth. The icy mixture soothed her dry mouth and throat. But the satisfaction lasted only a few minutes, and Jenna was thirsty again.

Next, Jenna bought a cup of lemonade with a lot of ice. It cooled her down, but just as with the smoothie, soon after she finished drinking it, her mouth felt dry and sticky.

Jenna stopped in front of a hamburger stand with a soda fountain. Something there had to quench her thirst. She bought a 44-ounce cup and filled it with cola. Within the next few minutes, the drink was gone.

And quickly the thirst returned.

She tried another soda and then another with the same results.

After she had gone through all of the options and was about to throw away the cup, she noticed a little tab under one of the dispensers that read “Water.”

Why not? Nothing else has worked.

Jenna pressed the tab and filled the cup one more time. Before drinking any of the water, she stared down into it. It looked so boring. Jenna never really drank water. No bright, enticing color, tangy flavor, or sharp carbonation. But it had come to this. For some reason, none of her usual options, or any of the others she’d tried, were doing the trick.

So she drank.

The water, though flavorless, was delicious. The cool of the water flowed through Jenna’s body. The water washed away the dryness and stickiness in her mouth and throat, and somehow she felt more awake than before. She filled another cup and started drinking—not because she was thirsty as much as because drinking the water felt so good.

The attendant at the counter watched her and said, “If water was what you wanted, you could have had it for free.”

Jenna smiled. “I’ll remember that.”

Photo by cottonbro on

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