Monday, November 8, 2010

What Wishes Are Made Of (Part 1 of 3)


There’s no stopping Liv once she sets her mind to something. Today it’s visiting the old wishing well at the top of Harper Hill.

It’s Nina’s fault, of course. She should know better, but she usually doesn’t and at lunch she confessed to having had a dream about the well. I didn’t get the details, but Liv did. Her eyes lit up, and that was the end of it. Instead of an after school trip to the mall, we’re out on a nature hike in search of wishes. I don’t believe in wishes, so this is basically a giant waste of a Friday afternoon.

We’re not supposed to go there. Not since that boy fell in and died however many years ago, but Liv gets off on the rush of doing things she shouldn’t. She likes to flirt with the idea of having a bad girl reputation. But not like smoking or having sex bad. Rebellion lite, she calls it. Bad enough. That’s how I know this is more about her than Nina.

It’s always about Liv.

She’s out ahead of me, moving way too fast up the steep path. My gum is hard as a rock, my nose is starting to run, and my feet are numb. If I’d known we’d be spending our afternoon mountain climbing, I definitely would not have chosen the three inch heel, knee boots.

“This better be worth it,” I yell, but Liv only waves her hand in the air.

Nina turns, always the peacemaker, and mouths, “Sorry.” It doesn’t really matter if she is or isn’t, we’re still clawing our way up an invisible path to visit a wishing well she saw in her dream.



I never would have come alone.

The woods are cold and quiet. I hear the wind tossing pine needles overhead, but the trees are old and tall. Nothing stirs around us except our own breath. Three continuous streams of white clouds. The sound of our steps is all there is and it’s as if we are all there is.

“I see it!” Liv sings, victorious, and moves more quickly than before.

“’bout freaking time,” Maddy mutters, but I know she’s just as curious as we are. Sullen is sort of a lifestyle for her.

A tremor passes over my shoulders; cold, fear or excitement, I’m not sure which, but I shove my hands into the pocket of my hoodie and jog behind her.

In my dream, everything was grey. The well was little more than a low piling of slate stones with holes around the lip where the wrought iron grate had been torn away. It was too deep to see any way, but the smell of it hovered just around the opening.

There were no words in the dream. It was just me and the well and the overwhelming sense that I needed to come. When I woke, I knew what my wish would be.

“No wonder that kid died,” Liv says, her voice loud as a wolf’s cry in the silence around us.

“Jesus.” Maddy rests her hands on her knees. I’m not sure if she’s talking about the well or the hike.

“Don’t be dramatic.” Liv moves right up to the edge of the well and leans over as casually as if she were considering a pair of satin pumps. “Is this how it looked in your dream, Nina?”

It is exactly as it looked in my dream, but that seems strange to say. I shrug. “Yeah, I mean, mostly.”


There’s nothing in that well but black. The bottom could be ten or one hundred feet below me and it would look the same to me: a solid plane of nothing. I’m pretty sure any dream involving this place wasn’t so much a dream as it was a nightmare, but Nina has a way with understatement the way Maddy has a way with black eyeliner.

I hold my hands out to the side and step up onto the crumbling stone lip. Nina gasps and Maddy mutters something under her breath. They’re both jealous in their own ways. Neither of them is fond of taking risks. That’s why they like me; I take risks for the three of us.

One pass around the crumbling well is enough to keep my rep solid. As I leap to the ground, pebbles roll beneath my boot and I slip. Just a little, and I land safe and sound, but Nina gasps again, playing to her strengths.

“What the hell are we doing here, anyway?” Maddy does her best to appear uninterested in her surroundings.

“Wishing. What else are creepy, old wells for?” Nina’s wandering toward the old wrought iron grate, as oblivious of my little digs as always. “Right, Nina?”

“Oh, um.” She turns and crosses back toward us. Her eyes are wide and as grey as her hoodie. “Right.”

I’m not convinced there’s any more magic in this well than there is in the sole of my boot. It was just a dream and not even my dream, but there’s no way I’ll have come all this way and not make a wish. Better to try than regret.

“Offerings ready?” Nina nods, Maddy shrugs, and I pull mine from my pocket. “Then wish if you’ve got ‘em.”

My quarter flies first. Nina carefully drops a silver charm she’s pulled from the trite little bracelet she’s worn for years. And Maddy, not to be out done, blows in her gum.

Come back on Wednesday for the next piece by Valerie! 
*Photo by Robyn's Nest via Fickr Creative Commons

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