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If All Water Were Blood

If All Water Were Blood

Maggie Ryan Sandford

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If all the water in the world were blood from the advent of Earth and always had been, we would be as used to it as sun in the day and dark at night (except for those times in Alaska).

We would turn on the tap and the blood would pour, making that tinny sound in the washbasin. At the pool, we would don little blood-wings, lie atop hot inflatable alligators, crusting up. Count the days ‘til we braved the bloodslide and splashed blood in each other’s faces to flirt.

At the pool, we would don little blood-wings, lie atop hot inflatable alligators, crusting up.

With no vampires, teen books would be all werewolves and zombies and a deadly but enchanting creature called a “Dermadero,” who tenderly eats off all a person’s skin, starting at the neck, the inside of the wrist, and other sensual parts.  

Teachers would wow us with facts like, “The Earth’s surface is 70% blood,” and “There is blood on Mars, frozen in a cryosphere. It may once have supported life!” We would not be impressed that our bodies are 65% blood—that would be as obvious as the noses on our faces, shining red or burgundy or dark-room black. The sky would be a lovely shade of violet. Skyscrapers and factories would be rounded like trees and the bosom of hills; broken cars would bleed. There would be so much iron in the earth, we wouldn’t have to mine; it would just rise to the surface, natural as erosion. We’d have figured out centuries earlier how to harness blood as an energy source: “It powers our bodies,” an inventor would cry to the history books, blood beading on his brow, “Why not our mills, our farms, our homes!”

That’s not to say there would be enough blood for everyone. Wars would break out over clean blood supplies, and serious human-rights questions would arise, like whether it is an atrocity to harvest an enemy soldier’s blood after it has spilled into the ground (only if it’s harvested for industrial purposes, the UN would decide). Wealthy women would sip mineral-rich blood from prismatic bottles instead of fainting at the sight of it. We’d all share the same drinking fountains and nothing would be made of lead.

And when I peed blood, I’d be like, “So what, I always pee blood”; in maxi pad commercials, they’d just pour blood on there. A rain of blood from God would signify nothing more than a healthy crop of bloodmelons at summer picnics, where rednecked uncles in bled-out beaters would splatter us with blood grenades ‘til the whole family collapsed to the grass in a big bloody heap.

And when I peed blood, I’d be like, “So what, I always pee blood”; in maxi pad commercials, they’d just pour blood on there.

And when you got gut shot, midsummer, you wouldn’t have looked at your hands. You’d have known right away, if you were dying, like sailors feel tides. We’d just veer off down the seashore and lay you in the wide, black ocean—type O. You’d back float between toothless pink sharks just as long as you needed, just as long as it took. The kids and I could get ice cream.


Maggie Ryan Sandford is a writer/researcher/producer/reformed comedian on a mission to make the world more scientifically literate through creative, research-based media projects. She writes and speaks about evolution, neuroscience, science+art, and science culture. She researches how humans learn about and engage with science, and how to help more humans do so. She produces and performs work for TV, radio, and stage.

Illustration by Greta Kotz.

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