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Conclusiontown—the only way to get there is by jumping

Beatrix woke last night wailing for a “Klee-nex! Klee-nex!”

She was wide-awake, facially slick, and in no mood to settle herself back to sleep. My husband offered to get up with her. I didn’t argue.

I had trouble getting back to sleep. Tossing and turning works up a mighty thirst, so I went downstairs to get a drink of water. My husband was rocking Beatrix in the dark living room. He said she had just fallen asleep.

Tiptoeing into the kitchen, I grabbed the glass I used right before I went to bed. It was sitting next to the sink. I started to turn on the faucet, but it was loud so I shut it off right away. I took my glass to the water dispenser in the refrigerator and squinted at the progress. Something seemed strange about the water.

I held it up to the light coming from outside. It was opaque and brown-tinged. I hissed into the living room that something was wrong with the water from the refrigerator. Look! My husband noted he couldn’t exactly look at the moment. Fair enough. I took the glass into the living room. Look!

I held it between his chair and the porch light shining through the glass of the front door. Still opaque and still alarming! Look! Look! My husband didn’t share my concern, so I returned to the kitchen muttering about how the kids shouldn’t drink the water until we figured out what was going on and feeling slightly disgusted that he wasn’t sufficiently horrified.

In the next ten seconds, I produced enough worried thoughts to equal the transcripts from all of OJ’s trials, combined:

I’ll have to block off the water dispenser somehow. I wonder if the ice has been affected? Maybe I can put tape across the opening, in an “X”. What kind of tape? Scotch or duct? Duct is in the garage, Scotch is in my desk drawer, did Aidan leave any after finishing her Bach project for music class? Probably not. I wish she used a glue stick. I told her it would be better. Neater, definitely. I’d rather use that tape because I don’t want to go to the garage barefoot right now. I should probably make a sign and tape that up too—“Don’t drink the water”—but I can see the kids asking each other why. So I could add “The water is brown” and that would certainly steer them away from drinking the water. But oh, no! If it is some sort of bacteria, it has probably been festering in there for several days! And in the ice! We’ve all been drinking the water. The baby! What if some bacteria crossed the placenta and the baby is hurt? What if Beatrix’s runny nose is actually the first symptom of some horrible bacterial infection caused by the water? I could call the triage nurse in the morning and leave a casual message. Right before the weekend, of course. Call Sears? The filter wasn’t that old!

Feeling faint, I dumped the water in the sink and refilled my glass from the refrigerator spigot so I could see how bad it really was. I pushed the button for the little light. The water seemed to be less opaque, but still slightly brown. I swirled it around and that is when I saw it.

On the bottom of the glass was some dried brown syrup from the chocolate milk I had right before bed.

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