7 For Seven Fiction Friday: "Water Bottle"

"The Great Sit-In will require no sitting."

On the first Friday of every month, “7 For Seven” publishes new short stories by Brady Gerber. Read on your browser. If you enjoy what you read, as always: Tip for coffee and share this dang thing.


Water Bottle

by Brady Gerber

The Great Sit-In will require no sitting. All 1,874,003 volunteers in Central Park will stand in 37 largeish ovals, no circles, holding hands, together, and swaying in concurring waves until the poison kicks in and everyone says alrighty and a nighty night. That’s what the website says. That’s what Shannon, the intern supervisor, repeats to me, Sam, Joseph, and Todd.

“These people are making a great sacrifice,” says Shannon, trying not to smile. “Our job is to help those who are helping us.”

I check my phone. “The Great Sit-In: The Great Goodbye to Stop Climate Change” is still the top trending topic, four months in a row. Our boss, who bravely volunteered Rawndee (who volunteered us) to sponsor this great and important day in history, freaks out over stuff like this. He’ll be happy. He’s never happy, but he’ll be happy about this, probably.

I’m sitting behind a booth. I’m a few yards away from the circles, selling Rawndee water bottles to volunteers getting thirsty from the fall heat. They’ve been standing for a few hours. These brave volunteers. According to the website, these are the ones who listen to scientists and who understand that there are just too many people on our planet to sustain life and that, if we had any dignity and wanted to curb this thing, we would have to bow out.

My booth is under the great Rawndee clock counting down the minutes until showtime. Apparently right now it’s the tallest man-made structure in Central Park. We’re literally calling it “showtime.” Fourteen minutes. I’m hiding my phone, even though Sam (Rawndee nachos), Joseph (“The Great Sit-In NYC” t-shirts, styled after the Yankees logo, sponsored by Rawndee), and Todd (Rawndee chapstick) also are checking their phones. We have a group chat going.

I hope Sarah texts me back. I think for a second that she’s in one of these circles. I think she would have told me. Or maybe not? Is that why she’s mad at me? She did say that I made a lot of assumptions about her. I’ll ask her if she responds.

Four minutes. Someone in circle AAR just fell. The circle erupts in applause. “Ahead of schedule!” I hear someone yell from circle Q. The park yells for joy. The crowd surrounding the perimeter of Central Park yells for joy. The live streams from the giant flat-screen TV next to the Rawndee clock streaming Great Sit-Ins from Los Angeles, Chicago, Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai, Accra, London, Melbourne, and Buenos Aires also yell for joy. The woman in front of me is fumbling through her purse to find her credit card (she left her phone at home) to pay for the water I’m about to give her so that she can rejoin her circle in time. “Shit,” she keeps saying to the ground. “Shit, shit, shit.”

The Showtime theme song plays faster and louder through the clock’s speakers as more people fall. The music speeds up with each new circle. They tried to organize it so that the circles would fall like a giant wave, or like some dominos. The woman makes it back to her circle in time to fall with the others. There’s now a chant from the crowd surrounding the park. They yell “Go, go, heroes!” clapping with each syllable and with a slight pause after the second go. Go, go … he-roes. Todd fake chants this in our chat. LOL, I repeat. Nice, says Joseph. I see Sam. She’s staring at the circles. I rub my toes together. With eleven seconds left, all the volunteers have fallen.

I get a text from Sarah. It’s almost as if the chanting has gotten louder, even though, taking away the music, the park is silent and still.

“Go, go, heroes!”

This is the latest short story published by Brady Gerber and “7 For Seven.” Sign up for the newsletter here.