This is brand, spanking new. No clue where this is going, but it will be continued next week.
The Wishing Well
Sarah’s hair clung around her face, dripping with well water. Her cheeks, normally pale and freckled, were blotched red. She panted, making the tips of her hair against her bottom lip move, back and forth.
Whatever she had seen, frightened her. She would not say what the fates had shown her and seemed unable to meet my eyes, but I knew her greatest fear, heard it every night as she said her prayers.
“Please, God, don’t let me become like mother.”
My turn came and the oldest girl, Ruth, shoved my shoulders, a high laugh coming from her pinched lips as I tripped and fell on my knees in front of the stacked stone.
“Go on then, Blythe. It’s your turn.”
I inhaled, letting the air fill my lungs before I grabbed the rope. The knotted braids were wet and I smelled the bitter scent of rust as I sat on the cracking stone surface and slipped my feet into the wide bucket. I ignored the laughs behind me and looked for Sarah, hoping my friend would offer me a smile, encourage me in this silly venture, but she’d deserted me.
Only her small lace handkerchief was left behind and it skipped with the dead leave across the forest ground.
Another push on my shoulder had me gripping the rope tighter.
“Don’t be a coward. Get on with it.”
Ruth’s laugh died as I stared at her and my chin went up, determination and pure stubbornness fueling my movements. I disregarded the laughs behind me and pushed off from the side, dangling over the vast darkness with only the thin rope and a cracked, damp bucket saving me from the depths below.
Really, I should have not placed so much faith in these girls. They were cruel at the best of times and downright vicious on a bad day. Still, I had been challenged and I was, after all, a Matthews and Matthews never back down from a dare.
The rope creaked and whined as I swung, then my body spun and the descent began. The giggles continued and I fixed a harsh glare at Ruth as she turned the crank, daring her to call me a coward once more.
“If I die, Ruth Carrollton, I will come back to haunt you every night until you are white-haired and wrinkled.”
“Hush, little Blythe. You can’t curse anyone,” Ruth said. Her lips were pulled into a tight, sneering line.
I stretched and grabbed her wrist, stopping the crank. “Do you want to place a wager? You haven’t heard about my old aunt who lives in Redwood Hollows?”
We stared at one another—her eyes narrowing and searching my face, I’m sure, for any waver; mine steady and certain.
“You’re fibbing. Everyone knows your aunt died last winter.”
She blinked first and I released her wrist letting her continue on the crank, but my eyes stayed wide and staring and before I was lowered, losing sight of anything other than the crawling insects and dripping stone of the well walls, I noticed Ruth’s chin quiver.
Satisfied that my threat was taken for truth, I finally smiled and released the breath I’d been holding, ready for whatever the fates would tell me.