Ghosts of Midlands Past
By Stephanie Bri
Chapter 2 The wishing well
It was getting cold down in the well. Her feet were getting cold from sloshing in the water. This was not what Jennifer had in mind when she woke up this morning.
“How in the hell did I get myself into this mess?” she asked. As she pulled herself up onto the ridge of the well she felt a sharp pain surge through her leg.
“Aw damn it all. I must have sprained my ankle during the drop.” she said.
It didn’t take long before she realized how unusual it was for a well like this to have ridge around the circumference in the first place. Something felt really odd about the whole thing.
Jennifer began swaying her hands around the knee-deep water looking for her flashlight she dropped on the way down. After a few moments she pulled it out of the water. Fortunately it still turned on.
She shined her light around the well to see what she could identify. She noticed it wasn’t like a typical watering well she had read about. It had a narrow ledge about six inches going around the wall of the well. On the far side she noticed something else that was unusual. She shined her light in that direction to see what appeared to be a crack in the wall. Not the kind made b weather wear, it looked man-made in how straight it was. She hopped down into the water to take the pressure off her ankle.
She slowly made her way around the circular dungeon she found herself trapped in for now. As soon as she reached the other side she ran her fingers along the length of the crack. She traced it around a square about twelve inches square she figured. To her chagrin it was far too small to be a trap door to a hidden passage.
“Oh sure Jen, let your imagination run wild,” she said.
Still, she could tell something felt rely strange. She knew her uncle, who sold the house to her mother for a bargain price, was a very secretive individual. But not nearly as secretive as her deceased father. She wasn’t sure what to expect but figured she would give the brick a push. Suddenly to her surprise brick came loose. She managed to muster enough strength to nudge it loose.
She realized that even though it was obviously cut out of the wall, she lacked the energy to remove it from its resting place. After a few minutes of tugging she wasn’t able to move more than one corner lose from the wall. That, however, was all she needed to shine her flashlight in the cracks to see what she could spot. No, it wasn’t a secret passage way as she had hoped. She could see there was definitely a space carved into the wall behind the brick. She couldn’t quite make out what was in the slit but it looked like there was something there.
Deciding she was best served conserving her energy she curled her legs up onto the ledge as best she could, propped her book bag up on the loose brick to use as a pillow and closed her eyes.
There are secrets you were never meant to unlock.
The voice rang in her ears as she drifted to sleep.
(Jennifer was leaning next to her favorite tree. She knew she was dreaming by the fog that was surrounding her.
“If I’m dreaming I guess it means I’m not dead” she thought.
She looked around. The fog was the thickest she had ever seen. It was like the fog you’d see in ghost movies on TV.
She looked around for familiar clues.
You must be lost, child. This is no place for a young woman like yourself.
Jennifer could hear the voice again. She looked around to see where it was coming from. Slowly she spotted a figure appearing out of the fog. It was a woman with long, curly hair. It was a golden shimmer righter than the sun. The woman was dressed in white robes. She had the most beautiful gray and blue eyes Jennifer had ever seen. They reminded her of her dad. He was blind in one eye. The tint in his dead eye was slightly off compared to his normal one. It used to gross people out.
The woman walked over to Jennifer, her heart racing. Even though she knew it was just a dream she was certain she had no desire to visit with a ghost.
You are not wrong to be afraid child. You do not belong here. Close your eyes and I will return you to the land of the living where you belong. I pray that it will be a very long time before I see you here again, dear child.
Startled awake Jennifer was blinded by a white light. The first thing she noticed was she felt warm, dry and that felt wrong.nThen as her eyes began to adjust she realized she was in a hospital bed.
Unsure of how she got out of the well she sat up startled.
“Wow there, it’s okay Jen, momma’s here,” her mother said. “You’re safe now sweetie.”
Jennifer’s mother leaned in and engulfed the teenager in the smuggest hug she had ever been embraced within.
“Where am I?” she asked.
“You are in the hospital. We found you unconscious by that old well out back,” her mother said.
“How long was I asleep?” Jennifer sked.
“Three days darling. I was beginning to worry. But I stayed right here by your side every day waiting for you to wake up. I just knew you’d wake up,” she said.
Jennifer was too tired to hold herself up any longer. She plopped back down onto her pillow and let her arms drop to her sides.
How did I get out of the well?
“Wait, you said I was lying next to the well right?” Jennifer asked.
“Yes dear, we found you on the ground.” her mother said. “What were you even doing out so late?”
Jennifer wasn’t sure what to say. It didn’t sound like her mom knew she had been inside the bottom of the well. She didn’t know if she was quite ready to break that news to her as she still had questions on how she go out of the well.
“Hey, there she is, our little comma patient,” a voice she was all to familiar with said.
“How ya doing squirt, is my baby sis smothering you for taking a three-day nap?” uncle Trent said. “You’re mom here insisted on sleeping here at the hospital in that uncomfortable chair. When I told her she had nothing to worry about our Jennifer was a tough gal.”
“Oh stop it Trent, she’s been through a lot,” mom said.
“Right sis, as if twisting her ankle, falling and hitting her head on that stone well wasn’t enough to worry about, she’s got you coddling her like a child. It’s high time you cut the damn cord,” Trent said.
Jennifer didn’t want to get in the middle of another argument between her mom and her uncle.
“Guys, please I am still very sore and I have this headache the size of New Mexico,” Jennifer said.
“Well shit girl, just trying to get my grown ass sister to stop babying her own child who is damn near an adult from what I can tell.” Trent said. “To hell with this! You to bitches can just cry and hug all day, I’ve got work to do.” he said as he threw his arms up and stormed out.
Brenda placed her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and said. “Don’t mind him, he was as worried about you as the rest of us, he just likes to act tough. Somehow thinks it will hurt his manhood if he shows any emotions. Never mind him, how is your ankle feeling?” mom asked.
Jennifer had forgotten about her ankle until her uncle brought it up. She squinted as she loosened up her muscles trying to take stock of what all did hurt. She certainly felt a bump on her heard that wasn’t there before. Was that why she couldn’t remember how she got out of the well?
“Mom, how wet was I went you found me? How long was I in that old well?” Jennifer asked.
“Oh silly Jen, we found you lying next to the well, you were never inside it. How would you even get down there? It’s been dried up for decades,” mom said.
“Mom I was down at the bottom of the well for at least a few hours. I slid down the old rope that was tied to the beam,” Jennifer said. “The water broke my fall when the rope snapped and I couldn’t get back up. The last thing I remember is trying to get above the water so I could fall asleep. I must have been drenched when you found me.” Jennifer said.
“Jennifer you must have dreamt the whole thing. There is no rope. There is no water. That well’s been dry for nearly forty years. Besides think about it. What on earth would possess you to climb into that broken old thing any way. Honestly. Sometimes your imagination is too damn much.” mom said.
Jennifer thought about what her mom was saying. Was it possible she dreamt the whole thing? If so did she actually pass out before climbing into the well?
Wait! The key she thought.
“Mother, where s my bag the things I had on me” Jennifer asked excitedly.
“Right here dear.” her mom said as she handed the bag to the distraught teen.
She frantically rummaged through her belongings. Everything was there. Every tool or item she packed was exactly where she left it. Except the key. It was gone.
“Where’s the key! I had a key it was right here in this pouch,” she said as she flipped the pocket inside out to demonstrate.
“I have no clue what you are talking about Jen,” mom said.
Jennifer was not about to let her mother talk to her like this.
“I know what I saw mother. I distinctly remember climbing down into the old well to fetch a key I saw when I shined my flashlight down there. When the rope snapped I couldn’t get back up so I slid the rest of the way down and slept the night. I know that part wasn’t a dream because…” she stopped and let her voice trail as she noticed the concerned look in her mother’s eyes.
“Because what darling?” her mother said. It was clear by the tone in her voice she was going from relieved Jen was alive to concerned for her mental state.
“Nothing mom. I guess I must have imagined it or something when I hit my head, like you said.” she said.
“Listen the doctor is going to be in here soon to ask you questions. I would strongly advise you not to tell him about your delusion of climbing down into an empty well.”
Jennifer agreed it was best not to make herself sound crazy while she was in a hospital bed. Still she knew what had happened that night. What was a mystery was how on earth did she get out of the well.