A Gallon of Water – D.T. Robbins

The first time I got drunk, the first time I had a hangover, everyone said to drink a gallon of water. They said I’d piss out all of the bad stuff and feel better and whatever. So I did and it worked. The first time I got high and had to take a drug test the next day, guess what I did. Ding ding, motherfucker. I drank another gallon. Passed with flying colors. I thought, maybe, possibly, this little trick might work for other shitty things too. When my girlfriend cheated on me with her sister’s husband, I drank my one-hundred and twenty-eight ounces. Pissed like a firehose. All was forgiven. She left me a few months later for her old high school English teacher. I drank, I pissed, I moved on. Bye, babe. Don’t think twice and all that. I bought one of those gallon-sized plastic water bottles you see all those hard-nippled bodybuilders carrying around at the gym or at GNC, kept it with me all the time. Wherever I went, it was there. Like those My Buddy dolls from the commercials I saw as a kid. At my mother’s funeral. When my dad said he’d wished it was my funeral. After getting fired from Guitar Center. Losing my health insurance. When I got arrested for spray painting dicks on that school bus. Getting kicked out of my aunt’s place. Trying and failing to get my GED. When someone stole my identity. Watching the girl I love marry that guy I hate. Getting my car repossessed. Drink, drink, drink. Piss, piss, piss. I never felt better. King of the world! No, king of the galaxy! King of kings!

At some point, and I can’t remember when, I stopped pissing altogether. I thought, maybe my body had gotten used to being so hydrated. Maybe I just needed to step up my game, drink more water to flush out the water that was still stuck inside, taking up the space that all of the bad thoughts and bad feelings might otherwise occupy. I drank another gallon. Nothing. Another. Nada. Gallon after gallon after gallon. I drank from the faucet, from the hose, from the fire hydrant, from the sewer, from the toilet, from the lakes and rivers and mountains springs.
It started in my pinky fingers, spread to my ring finger, middle finger, and so on. My hands blew up like balloons. Then my toes, my feet, legs. Another gallon is probably all I need, right? And another. And another. And another. And one more. Not an ounce of piss left my body. I took a safety pin, tried stabbing it into my forearm. I grabbed a razor, a knife, a saw. Nothing penetrated my skin. Like goddamn steel.
For days there was just stretching, stretching, stretching. My limbs wouldn’t bend, wouldn’t budge. I could hear the water sloshing around inside my organs. Eventually, my weight cracked the cement I was standing on. The sidewalk widened its mouth as I sank. I went down, down, down. I couldn’t see anything or hear anything. Total fucking darkness. I felt nothing as the dirt and rock scraped by.
I thought about all those things I’d avoided, all the things I’d never felt. I wanted to be depressed, manic, suicidal, bitter, lost, helpless, anxious, insane, empty, dead inside. A whole world of miserable people trampled above, free and fleeting in their perpetual self-loathing. O, to anguish! To hate myself! To hate others! To hate all creation! Glorious, wonderful misery!

At the earth’s core, everyone and everything that had ever existed sat in fold-out chairs, waiting for their number to be called so they could walk into the fire and disappear forever.
I wondered, when it’s finally my turn, if the countless gallons I’d swallowed would put out the flame or if I would be afforded any kind of suffering at all.