So You’ve Decided to Drink More Water

by Mallory Ortberg

On the first day, you make the decision. “I’m going to drink more water,” you say. “Eight glasses a day, to start with. Maybe more.” Suddenly you realize the break room has gone silent. The sun sinks below the horizon as a sign of respect. You begin right away, finishing the cup of water already in your hand.

The next morning, you open your eyes after eight uninterrupted hours of deep sleep. The sun spills through the window onto the fresh white linens on your bed, and a glass of water sits on your nightstand, sparkling in the morning light. You drink it and realize that you no longer have the urge to eat breakfast. The water is enough.

Later, on the subway, a beautiful, serene older woman comes over to you and lays her gloved hand gently on your arm. “Your skin,” she murmurs. “It’s positively glowing. So fresh. So luminous. May I ask — it’s water, isn’t it?” You smile. She plants a tender kiss on your forehead and glides away.

A week passes. You go in for your yearly physical. “I don’t understand,” your doctor mutters as she looks at your chart. “A woman your age — it just doesn’t make any sense.” You shift nervously on the papered table. “Your body doesn’t have a single toxin. They’ve all disappeared. It’s as if something just … flushed them away overnight.” She shakes her head. “I’m not even sure how to tell you this. Have you found yourself experiencing a decreased appetite lately? Difficulty finishing meals?” You nod, unsure of where this is going. “This is extremely rare, but your entire digestive system has been transmuted into pure mother-of-pearl.”

“I see,” you say slowly. You pull a bottle of water out of your purse and take a sip, and her face breaks into a relieved smile. “You didn’t tell me you’d started drinking water! Eight glasses of water a day? Of course! Is that why every inch of your skin is radiating a soft and healthy glow?” You nod again. She laughs and takes off her stethoscope. “I can see we won’t be needing this anymore!”

You start to carry water with you everywhere. Sometimes after getting home from work you drink from the kitchen faucet in great, hiccuping gulps. In no time at all you’ve moved from eight cups a day to a few gallons. Anyone else might have died of hyponatremia by now, but not you. You only grow stronger and more beautiful.

Every publication in the world, from The Lancet to Maxim to Mother Jones, wants to know your secret. “Tell us,” they beg you. Their eyes are hungry (thirsty?). “We have to know. How do you do it?” You sigh exquisitely. “I just like to drink water,” you tell them. Still their eyes bore into yours, pleading. “Sometimes I put a slice of cucumber or lemon in it. For the taste.” Upon hearing these words, an envious Anna Wintour sets herself on fire.

Grown men sink to their knees as you pass, their faces crumpling into shameless sobs. Mothers lift their children up to you in mute and expectant appeal. You bless them all.

Every country in the world bans the drinking of any beverage other than water. All droughts cease; deserts erupt in a riot of frondescence. You twirl in delight, slowly at first, round and round, as the entire world joins you in drinking more water. Everyone is drinking more water now. A soft, cool rain begins to fall. “She’s the one,” you hear someone whisper before you ascend to a plane of existence where human vocalizations no longer mean anything to you. “The one who drinks a lot of water.”

Mallory Ortberg is a writer in the Bay Area.