This was by far the most beautiful day Addie had ever seen, but she never looked beyond what was in front of her or at her feet. The clouds rolled lazily in the sky like puffs of cigar smoke from an old man’s pipe. There was a spring in her step and spring in the air which she sucked in as she hopped through the manicured lawn. The green grass rippled with the wind which offered a cold brush of the shoulder.
“Don’t stray too far mother said...” She sang with a lisp. She trailed off as she wound through the long backyard of the cabin.
“Don’t go too far, you stay in sight,” she climbed up onto a tree stump that was just on the edge of the yard. She looked into the forest which grew steeper the further she ventured upon it. She looked between the lips of the forest and the cabin.
“I’ll be back before dinner,” she thought, jumping off the stump and running into the forest.
“I’ll run away but just for now,” she ran up the hill dodging branches and jumping over rabbit holes. She followed winding paths that twisted and curved through the trees.
“You can’t keep me I’ll find a way back somehow,” She skipped forward with her eyes on the ground.
She looked up and was delighted at how far she had gone. She shivered as the wind blew colder and turned around to follow the trail backward. She jumped over into the next trail and followed that trail in the opposite direction. She squeezed past bushes and tripped over roots. She followed trails back to the cabin, but the forest never thinned.
Addie stood in place finally looking around her, her eyes tearing up. It was getting colder and darker as she realized she was lost. She yelled for her mother, only to hear the trees shake their branches and mutter their grumbles. Addie no longer skipped, she inched forward hugging herself, until she saw a gap between the trees. She ran for it and tumbled into an open field. There was an eerie aura surrounding the perfectly crisp and circular field and she heard the nature surrounding her hesitate for a moment. She looked up and her eyes were met with a small, shabby well, with grey cobblestone and moss running up the side. A small wooden bucket swung from side to side, like a greeting. Addie’s fear dissolved around the curiosity poking at her. She crept up to the well and peeked inside. It was dark and the vertical tunnel running into the ground looked endless. The sun was setting and its last minutes of light showed the murky water at the bottom of the well. Addie put her hands on the edge of the well and stared down in wonder.
“A wishing well…” she said to herself. She dug around in her jean pockets pulling out a shiny penny that had been through the washer several times. She squeezed her eyes shut grasping the penny. Her mind raced for what to wish for; another birthday, her family together, or maybe a perfect day. Her thoughts were cut off by the wind howling around her. Panic started to bubble in her stomach again.
She turned toward the well and said “I wish to go home.” She tossed the coin in and watched it fall into the well. She waited and just as she was about to turn away, she saw something begin to glow under the water’s surface. Her eyes went wide and she leaned over the wall. The water glowed bright and the smell of rust and something sweet made her lean in further. She squinted and stared at the swirling water below, her feet lifting off the ground.
She blinked and broke from the spell and pulled back.
“Hmmmmm,” a voice hummed when she felt a small shove at her back and she fell.
Addie fell for a very long moment with a gasp and a scream and an accusation tied in her throat like a knot. She fell into the water with a quiet splash and the water submerged her. She opened her eyes in the dark and her penny was glowing on top of a pile of coins built high from the bottom up. The light shining through the muck seemed to welcome her, like an invitation from a friend to come inside. She blinked staring at it underwater, forgetting she couldn’t breathe. Then the copper hue exploded and was all she could see.
The glowing light faded and Addie saw she was back at the cabin, with a beautiful day sprawled out in front of her and the clouds and grass moving lazily above and beneath her. She breathed out in relief, feeling dazed from all the emotions swirling inside her moments before. She sat down and laid right outside the cabin just breathing and crying.
“Addie,” her mother called from inside the cabin. She came outside and put her hands on her hips.
“You’re going to be late for dinner,” She chastised before realizing something was wrong. She walked down the porch steps and sat beside Addie brushing her damp hair out her face. “It’s ok baby,” she cooed, picking Addie up and carrying her inside to the warmth of the house. She laid her down at the couch and hummed the same tune Addie was singing at the start of the afternoon. Addie opened her eyes and turned around on the couch. On the table was the biggest cake Addie had ever seen.
Addie's mother smiled, “We’re having cake for dinner tonight!”
Addie looked up at her mother with delighted shock, “Really?”
Her mother stood and pulled two forks off the table handing one to Addie. Addie jumped off the couch and hesitantly stuck her fork in the cake only after watching her mother’s gaze for signs if she was in trouble. Addie's mother stuck a fork into the cake pulling out a huge chunk. Addie abandoned all her doubts and the two dug into the cake.
As Addie was piling icing into her mouth they laughed telling silly jokes. The cake tasted sweet, like fresh honey or maple syrup.
“Oh!” her mother exclaimed clasping her hands together, “and after today Daddy is going to come to the cabin too!”
“Dabdy!?” Addie said still chewing, “but I haven’t seen daddy since the funeral?”
“We’ll have another perfect day tomorrow.” Her mother reached forward and wiped the corner icing off Addie’s chin.
The rest of the night was spent playing games, making forts, and telling stories. The whole time Addie became sleepier and the lights of the cabin felt dimmer as the night went on. Addie was thrilled to stay up past her bedtime.
She began to blink drowsily when her mother put a cool blanket over her.
“It will all be alright. Just go to sleep, child.”
Addie snuggled into her mother and felt her mother’s hand rubbing her back.
“Yes. That’s it. Just a few more moments and you will go to sleep for a very long time...”
Addie closed her eyes.
Addie felt her body jerk upwards. She gasped and choked. Her mother was gone, the cabin was gone, and everything was dark and cold.
“We’ve got her!” A man’s voice rang out above her. Addie blinked and saw she was being lifted out of the well by a man being pulled by a rope. She could hear the wind howling ferociously above, but after almost reaching the top of the well she realized it was her mother screaming. Her mother practically ripped Addie from the man's arms when they reached the top. Both collapsed to the solid ground beneath them. Addie's mother shook and was rambling to herself.
“How did you find the well?” She said while clutching Addie's body, her eyes darting between every clear space between the well and the forest.
The men surrounding them took Addie and laid her on the ground, quickly pushing water from her chest while she coughed and choked. They placed a tube over Addies’ mouth and continued touching her saying things back and forth that she couldn’t understand.
Raindrops sprinkled onto Addies’ face. Looking up, she realized they weren’t raindrops but her mother’s tears.
Addie’s mother was wheezing and crying with loud hiccups. She seemed to be choking too.
“How did you find this place?” She pushed her palms into her forehead. “I haven’t seen it since I was your age- I almost forgot,” she sobbed. “It could have taken you like… oh God like it took Lucas! This is all my fault!”
“Mam we have to take her to the hospital,” The man who had put the tube over Addie’s mouth said. Her mother nodded and stood up, walking beside Addie as two men carried her through the forest on a plank. Addie saw her glance back at the well and she gripped her arm. Addies’ hands and feet were tied down and another man held a tube to her mouth. Her mother walked beside them staring down at her until they reached the cabin and then the ambulance. The men were trying to talk to her mother but she seemed lost to all they were saying.
Addie slipped out of her restraint reaching up to remove the tube, “I’m sorry mommy.” She breathed out.
“It’s ok baby,” her mother said pushing the damp hair out of her face.
Addie heard a man say something about her falling in the well. She looked for the voice.
“I didn’t fall, I was pushed,” she said. All the men in the back of the ambulance stopped talking and stared at her.
“I know baby, I know,” her mother whispered.
“It made me see. It made me see…”
Addie's mother smiled a sad smile with tears pouring down her face.