The Time I Was a Water Girl

Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.

One year in junior high school, all of my friends auditioned for the track team. At the time, I was pudgy and couldn’t run a mile without tasting blood in my throat, so I was afraid to audition, because I knew I wouldn’t make it, and it would be humiliating if I was the only one of my friends who didn’t.  

But I also didn’t want my friends to be together every day after school without me, because they (well, we) were a horrible gaggle of mean girls, and I knew they’d talk about me behind my back.

So I volunteered to be the water girl. And then it turned out that every single person who auditioned got on the team anyway. 

Volunteering to be the water girl, although it had seemed a flash of brilliance when it first popped into my panicked mind, was not a good plan at all. It was excruciatingly embarrassing to be the water girl. The water boy was only the water boy because he was on the team at first and then twisted his ankle.

I had to call roll every day from a clipboard, and then fill up the water bottles in the water fountain. And every day while I was filling them up, the popular boys would come over to drink water after having been running for awhile. And I was too scared of them to tell them to wait until I was done (or even to be within a foot of them), so I’d just drop the water bottles and get out of the way, like I’d just remembered I had something really urgent to do somewhere else. Which is ridiculous because I was a water girl — dealing with the water was literally my entire job description.

And meanwhile, the water bottles would lie around in the water fountain while the popular boys drank out of it, so when I finally filled them up and brought them back to the coach, they were all covered in popular boy backwash.

I doubt anyone would have minded, though.

And now that I’m writing this, I’m really confused about what I was doing in the first place. I couldn’t possibly have filled water bottles for the entire track team every day. And why wouldn’t they just fill up their own water bottles? But I have a clear memory of how things went down at the water fountain, and I know that for some time, I bore the title of water girl, so it must have happened.

Anyway, later that spring, I was filling up the water bottles when this lion that had escaped from a nearby zoo accidentally stumbled out onto the track. Everyone screamed of course, and started running faster, and that scared the lion, and it mauled and ate almost every single runner.

I was gone for a long time that day, because for once no one came to interrupt me at the fountain, so by the time I came back onto the field, there was nothing left but entrails.


  1. T E Stazyk says:

    Thank you for reaffirming my conviction to not be a runner. Clearly it’s hazardous to your health.


  2. John Jr says:

    Wow! I feel stupid for asking this, but did this really happen and did some people really die that day Elizabeth or was that part fictional/fiction?


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