Behind the Wishing Well

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Write about someone who’s desperately trying to change their luck.... view prompt

2 comments

Drama Fiction Teens & Young Adult

Coming full circle usually meant going back to a place where everything started, after which, renewal is supposed to be possible. Self-overhaul is imminent. Alana wouldn’t have thought that going back to her hometown would be the best way to start changing her luck in relationships.

“Well, damn.” Alana muttered as she looked at the dolled up shrubbery lining the driveway of her high school building. Reunions are good for lays, she’d always thought. But she reminded herself that she’s not supposed to think that way anymore.

She came back home for the wedding of her crazy high school buddies Jean and Cody, who insisted on renting their high school gym for their venue instead of the fancy hotel downtown. The money they saved up would be spent on their honeymoon in Southeast Asia. It didn’t matter to them at all that every invited guest felt like they were going to some weird grown-up prom. They were in love, and they wanted all their high school friends to know it.

Lucky them, Alana thought bitterly. At her ripe age of 23, Alana thought she knew everything there is to know about love, which can be summed up in a simple postulate: it’s just the product of a fizzy hormone cocktail. A cocktail that brings on passionate, boiling hot, lighting-quick flings that don’t mean anything.

“Note to self. Stop and rethink,” she muttered, sighing deeply.

The small thought exercises her psychologist made her do to re-focus her attention are handy, but they’re a big buzzkill. Her first trip to the shrink told her what she knew all along, that something was wrong with her. She had self-diagnosed herself from the moment she opened her first college textbook on psychology. She had all the signs of being a narcissistic, nymphomaniac, sex-addicted introvert, who may or may not have obsessive compulsive disorder.

Alana’s therapist laughed when she presented her self-diagnosed condition with bullet points, and she hadn’t even listed all the mental disorders she was convinced she had. Studying psychology when she obviously had problems seemed ironic, but it’s a small comfort reading about people who behaved like she did, that she wasn’t the only one with problems.

The downside is that there’s no high-end, drug-laden therapy to cure her. Her shrink told her to change her perspective. She already knows that should treat people (men, especially) like people, and not tools. That she should consider men --and people in general -- as sentient beings with feelings. They are not disposable tools she can discard when they’ve served their purpose.

She wondered how her former classmates would react if they knew she’s getting psychiatric help to get her liking people, with the ultimate goal of attracting love. Love. Whatever part of her brain was responsible for her gentle feelings (or lack thereof) was probably faulty. 

Her experience with her college boyfriends certainly did not bolster her faith in the kind of love that led to marriage. She certainly did not feel that kind of love with her dorm building’s resident assistant who helped her move in. From the get go, it was clear that he was more attracted to her than she was to him. But she went with the flow, and pretty soon he was telling her she was the one. She didn’t agree, but smiled and enjoyed the attention anyway.

It ended much sooner than she expected, and her break-up with the RA guy revealed much about where she was mentally in the context of her relationships. Taking the fire escape shortcut, she came home late one night and found him wrapped around her downstairs neighbor. Instead of confronting him, she ran to 7-11, bought a box of condoms, and handed it to the two-timing turd with instructions to never speak to her again. She enjoyed the look on his face when she told him that the condoms were so that he would not pass what he probably got from her to the new girl.

Snide bitch, she was. Yes, OK. That time, she was the problem. She just didn’t care enough about the relationship to fix it. Cut her losses, and move on. That’s what she did.

It was always cheating or some other pathetic reason with a different guy. Alana brushed off every attempt to reconcile. She just didn’t care anymore. She was done using the guy, and whatever “love” was between them was gone by the third time they had sex. Attraction was what she understood perfectly, and she often considered attraction and love as interchangeable. After all, love was really just sexual attraction dressed up to look presentable as one participated in a mating dance.

It started in the library or canteen, progressed to the coffee shop across her college, and culminated on her roommate’s bed, because hers was usually too cluttered with books, post-its, and highlighters to present a suitable venue for post-exam coitus. When the smoke cleared, she found herself in bed with a total stranger who seemed to become less attractive as the minutes ticked by.

“Alana! I’m so glad you’re still here!” a loud yelling from the courtyard roused her from her reverie. It looked like a member of the entourage from the way he’s dressed.

“Paul! Jeez, you look better than you ever did in high school!” her old biology lab partner had filled out and looked fit in a tux. “No wonder I didn’t recognize you in the church during the ceremony.”

“Listen, it’s a cross between a circus and the grand alumni homecoming in there, and I’m bailing. Some of us are going to the pub. Want to come? The giddy couple won’t miss any of us.”

Waiting impatiently behind him were the cool-group people who used to sit together in the cafeteria, one of which was looking at Alana the way she would look at day-old jell-o. It was high school all over again.

“Fine, you go ahead. I’ll meet you in the pub in thirty minutes!” she said brightly, lying through her teeth. “I just need to say hi to Cody and Jean.”

She had no intention of going in the gym, not after the way Paul described how things were inside. But there was a place in the school grounds that she wanted to visit, even if it brought back a bittersweet memory that she would rather not think about. Beside the old wishing well was the water tank outhouse, behind which was a space big enough to accommodate two teen-agers intent on doing nothing good. It’s the place where she lost her virginity to a guy she never noticed in school, much less talked to.

She didn’t even give him her real name, which at the time seemed like a great move. In fairness, he also never gave her his real name. There was just no way Benny Squint was his real name. At least the fake name she gave him sounded genuine, Belladonna Alleycat.

She walked faster to reach her personal “sin place” just at the edge of the campus.

It’s where she went whenever she felt stressed with school work. Sitting on the hard-packed earth littered with cigarette butts, she could blissfully dissociate into someone who didn’t care what others thought of her and her less than stellar GPA of 3.9. She could puff on a cig or two, and no one was there to judge.

She should have guessed from the melodic whistling coming from the general area of the well that there was someone else there. Someone she knew, apparently. And she had a pretty good idea who it was.

The man who stood before her was as far from the boy from her memory as night and day. This man was polished from head to foot, in a three-piece suit, no less. Only the goatee, the long hair in a man bun, and the lopsided smirk seemed familiar.

“You look different, yet the same. How could that be?” Standing and bowing slightly, he said, “Hello again, Miss Alleycat.”

“No! Are you…? You can’t be…” She knew who he was, and her brain was screaming in mortification. “Benny… or whatever your real name is. Back in high school, we used to meet here to… ”

“Bone.” He finished, laughing at her shocked face. “Yeah, we came here to bone after class. I'm glad you remember. By the way, we never got to exchange real names. I’m Chace.” He went on as if talking about the weather.

“Alana.” She answered, shaking his hand. It’s hard to keep a straight face while looking at this guy, especially because of what they used to do in this place, even if they now looked nothing like their former goth-emo selves.  

 “Anyway, I’m glad you remember me. So, did you attend the wedding? Were you Jean’s or Cody’s?” He gestured to his attire. “I was supposed to be Cody’s groomsman, but I didn’t make it to the ceremony. I was in the music club with him.”

 “I was lab partners with Cody.” She leaned on the wall, regarding the hot, confident guy in front of her. He looked so put together.

“Yes, I attended the wedding. You don’t have cigarettes?” She asked, noting his empty hands.

“No. Quit a year ago. You?”

“Quit after high school. But I thought – well, being here in this place, it just seemed right to light up. Like a tradition.”  

Chace smiled again, another thing that's different about him. He almost never smiled back in high school.

“Oh, and what else would you suggest we do in this place now? In keeping with tradition.”

She stared at him and realized he was hitting on her, and that she liked it. The sordid, filthy scenes that could happen are already playing inside her head like a movie. Ugh, she thought. She was going to have to turn him down, in the name of progress in her therapy. In the name of her sanity.

“Nope. I’m quitting that thing, too,” she said quietly, looking away. Alana didn’t intend to reveal her secret, but there it was. She waited for judgment.

It was his turn to stare. “It got that bad, huh." His face had a curious expression for a long second.

"I get it. I'm in recovery myself. I probably understand more than anybody.” he answered seriously.

She looked up. “In recovery?” Did he have the same condition?

“Been to rehab for meth addiction,” he said, not meeting her eye. He looked up when she said nothing.

“What? Some of us go to college, some of us go to rehab.” It was his turn to act defensive.

“And some others go to college needing rehab,” she smiled, trying to put him at ease.

Steeling her nerves, she asked, “So… to celebrate our reunion, would you settle for wedding cake and champagne instead?”

“I’d love that” Chace said softly, extending his hand. Arm in arm, they stepped out of their nook behind the wishing well and toward the school gym.

June 18, 2021 19:57

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2 comments

Theresa Bhowan
05:37 Jun 24, 2021

This story ends in a really charming way. I like that this guy, that was the first sex tool she found, actually turned into a person for her. But more than that, he turned into the only person that understood her. I did find it a bit odd that they were in school together but didn't know each other's real names but it definitely adds to the idea that she never saw men as actual humans. Also, what an awesome twist that it's a college woman that uses men as sex tools and not the usual generic mid-forty year old man that uses women to fulfill hi...

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Ruby Galvez
06:35 Jun 25, 2021

Thanks for this comment. It felt good to raise awareness regarding this issue.

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