“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.
FOUR DAYS LATER
I haven’t slept more than an hour since the day we went to that stupid wishing well. The nightmares won’t stop. I even tried staying home from school yesterday. I thought maybe I could sleep during the day but the nightmares were still there, and this time I was home alone.
So today it’s back to school. I’m so tired I actually wore sweatpants. In public.
When I walk up to Nina at her locker, she doesn’t recognize my makeup-free face. The surprised - but still friendly - expression she wears for the stranger approaching her shifts into recognition, and then concern as she realizes it’s me and I look like crap.
Worry lines form between her eyebrows. “Hey, Maddy. You still sick?”
I nod and even that feels like a monumental effort. “Yeah.”
Nina’s lips turn down in her pity pout. I must really look bad. She usually saves that for homeless people and the kids that get shoved into lockers at lunch. “Well, you weren’t really dressed for the weather when we went up to the well.”
“I know,” I say, and try to keep the anger out of my voice. It wasn’t her idea to go up there, it was Liv’s. And I could’ve said no, but I didn’t. It’s hard to believe it was only last Friday that we hiked up Harper Hill and my biggest concern was making sure I didn't fall and get my favorite skirt dirty.
This is what I get for mocking the wishing well, I guess. For spitting in it and thinking sarcastically, I wish I could get out of this place.
I don’t believe in wishes. That’s what I keep telling myself. But it’s starting to feel like the wishing well believes in me.
In the dreams, the well calls me. Not with words, but like, this feeling. And I know I have to go back. The only way to get the nightmares to stop is to go back. But I don’t want to go back. Because I understand now.
That boy didn’t fall into the well. He jumped.
I’m starting to wonder if I did the right thing.
Maddy’s eyes are so haunted. They look around, but they’re not seeing anything in the hallway. They’re focused on some other place and it’s scaring me because Maddy’s usually the one noticing everything. She spots the latest gossip as it’s happening.
I did what it wanted. I gave the well something that mattered. Something that mattered a lot. Even now my fingers reach absently for the little bird and I miss it. It’s like I threw a tiny piece of my heart away.
Maddy grabs my arm and I jump. Her grip is so tight it pinches. “What happened in your dream? The one about the well?”
I want to ask Maddy what she wished for, but then she would ask me and I can’t tell her. I can’t tell anyone, ever. Instead, I bend the truth. “My dream? That was days ago. I don’t really remember.”
“Nina,” Maddy leans close and stares me down. “I really need to know.”
The cacophony of noise in the hallway comes to a dead stop and I’m saved. The silence can only mean one thing. Liv is here. Maddy’s head jerks up in surprise. All around the hall, heads are swiveling, the conversations gradually picking back up as Liv makes her way through the crowd.
Maddy’s grip on my arm relaxes. “What’s going on?”
Liv approaches in sunglasses and a scarf tied around her head like some fifties movie star. Even as the boys laugh, and the words bitch and whore are tossed at her she holds her head high.
I sigh. “You missed a lot yesterday.”
I should’ve gone to the well alone.
Whoever said “be careful what you wish for” got it wrong. It’s not what you wish that matters, it’s how. Be specific. That’s rule number one. Watch your word choices; semantics count.
I thought being infamous would be cool. Like, badass. But it turns out the difference between being famous and being infamous is way bigger than I thought. Like, famous is being loved and admired. Infamous is having all your dirty little secrets exposed and being hated for them.
I should’ve said what I wanted to be infamous for instead of leaving it up to fate.
Nina is at my locker with some girl when I get there. They’re ripping off paper that’s been taped to the door so I won't have to see it, but it’s pointless. It’s not like I haven’t seen the photos before. The whole school has. And my parents. And the police.
Apparently the girl with Nina is the only person alive who hasn’t seen them because she’s staring at the picture in her hand with her mouth wide open. “Liv? Is that you?”
It takes me a minute to realize the strange, scruffy girl with Nina is Maddy. Wow. If I wasn’t going through my own personal hell, I might be worried about her. She looks like crap.
I swear the whole hallway hushes, waiting to see if I’m going to claim those photos. “It’s not a very good shot of my face is it?” I say, and force a grin. “At least my boobs look good.”
Nina frowns. So disappointed in me, I’m sure. Maddy just looks confused. Some jerk from the basketball team slams his fist into the locker next to my head, startling us all. “Nice job, whore.”
I’m so mad I want to punch him in the face, but I channel my inner Marilyn Monroe and keep my composure. “No one told Jake to send those pictures to the whole school.”
It’s not my fault Jake “accidentally” sexted the whole school – including the principal. Those photos were just for him. It’s not my fault he got kicked off the basketball team. It’s not my fault we both have to go to court now.
That freaking wishing well did it. And I’m going to make sure it undoes it too.
Come back on Friday for the next piece by Lacey!
*Photo by Robyn's Nest via Flickr Creative Commons
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