Wishing Well Questions

Submitted into Contest #95 in response to: Start your story with someone being presented with a dilemma.... view prompt

15 comments

Contemporary Speculative Mystery

I am sitting behind my house trying to place some order to everything that happened. It is a big house, but not really a house at all. It is more of a huge shambling wreck. I just live down in one little corner of it. I am sitting on the edge of a concrete well. It is like an ugly sewer pipe facing in the wrong direction. It is pointing directly to the sky instead of out across and spoiling some idyllic forgotten water course. I know that this place for some reason is important. I cannot seem to remember why. I just know that here some of the craziness of the last few weeks feels coherent. If I repeat some of the madder urges they, well in this spot, they do no longer seem quite as mad.

As a child I loved a wishing well, I loved and believed in all forms of magic. I never wished for anything impossible. I never wished for the ability of flight or to be able to stop time. I always wished for things just in reach. That way they very often came true and the desire and wonder of wishes still held in my heart. I remember staying with my nan up in St. Helens one summer when I was eight. I had been packed off with the most awful shoes for the summer. Heavy, clumpy, practical school shoes. Everyone else was running around in trainers. At the edge of the park by the library was a strange descending, spiralling walkway and at that entrance was a large stone. My nan told me it was a wishing stone and if I sat on it and made a wish it would always come true. But only if I never told anyone what I wished for. That summer I wished every day for new shoes. Then a week before I went home my nan took me to town and brought me some new trainers. Now over thirty years later I am no longer a boy wishing for new shoes. The preternatural seems to be reserved for children, drunks and the mad. I am neither of the first two and unsure if I completely qualify for the third.

We lie to our children. We lie because we were lied to as children. The people who lied to us as children were told the same lies when they were children. We create the stories that we hold dear within our own heads. The tellers of them same stories have only been repeating the process. There are no wishing wells. The old knowledge has been lost. There are no wishes to be granted and your coin you throw is just another lie you were told. Wishing wells are not for wishes but for something else entirely.

Wishing Wells answer questions. That doubt in your mind that problem you need an answer to. That is what a wishing well does. Never throw in a pound or any coin of value. Always a penny, always something of no value. Your wishing well does not appreciate extravagance. It wants a part of you. Take any old penny, a favourite pebble, even a piece of broken glass. When no one is watching just hold it. Hold it for the entire morning. Let your scent, your purpose, your essence just leak into that worthless talisman for as long as is humanly possible. That is what your wishing well wants. Wishing wells have no interest in commerce, they are purely invested in you. Wishing Wells are for wisdom, knowledge, they are there to answer the question you need an answer to but cannot find. Odin the leader of the Viking Gods tore out his eye and cast it in a well. Not so he could achieve his heart’s desire but so he could know the answers to the questions he had to ask.

The other important things about wishing wells is the power within is shy. They don’t want you to look at them for any length of time. Never peer over the rim gazing into the depths. The power will run away and hide within the ground. It may never come back or never for you anyway. Your question will remain unanswered for ever. If the power in the well was not cautious it would choose to live underneath a magnificent water cascades or in babbling brooks. If they were like us cocksure and proud they would inhabit the great geysers of the world and jump out and perform like peacocks as regular as clockwork. No they want to lay where they are forgotten. That’s what we get wrong, we think real power is connected to worship. It is the opposite. Real power is sacrilege, it goes against the rules, it runs between the lines, it stands outside the room. It stands outside looking in. Real power is not necessarily evil it just has its own rules. This is the reason why any old coin will not work, because it holds no value. The exchange it offers must be satisfying.

Yesterday I cut a button off my favourite jacket and every possible moment since then I have held it clenched tight in my fist. So tight, that now the circle of the button is impressed into the centre of my palm. I have placed as much energy as possible into that button until it must surely seem like it was part of me. The well wants a piece of me. That piece has value. That is real food.

I sit on the rim of my well. Facing outwards, looking off into the trees. I toss the button behind me and I listen. I listen with every bit of concentration I can muster. Time slows; maybe even stops. I clear my mind. I wait. All the chaos in my head rushes away from me. It disappears into the distant woods. A serenity washes through me. I feel at peace. I feel calm.

Then I hear it. The button hits the water with an almost imperceptible plop.


I ask my question.

May 22, 2021 14:35

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15 comments

Hey Tom, I don't know if you're still on Reedsy but I just came out with my first story in months and would love for you to check it out and give me some feedback. Just trying to connect with all those who have given me advice in the past.

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Tom .
18:16 Sep 22, 2021

Sorry mate I write on a different platform now and I have literally spent three hours reading other people's content today. I would rather be honest than bullshit you. Good luck with everything though.

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What platform? I like Reedsy but would be interested in trying something else as well. Judges aren’t the best on here and a lot of the writers are…I don’t know, just not my style. Maybe check my new piece out tomorrow?

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13:13 Sep 20, 2021

Hey Tom! Beautiful and quiet, this piece feels like a mini literary piece, but without all of length, excessive language, and older writing styles that usually drive me away. I like it a lot. Your writing has clearly grown by a huge magnitude since I first read your stories. In this piece, I love all of the little details that really make it come to life throughout the main character's quiet monologue. There are no strong emotions being displayed, but somehow it is still compelling. Compelling enough that I read the first paragraph just t...

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Tom .
18:05 Sep 20, 2021

Thank you, this popped on my emails. I don't write for Reedsy anymore, I write on Vocal now. Made $1600 in the last seven months doing it. It has its problems but I am still just using it to improve and to write a wider range of stuff including nonfiction.. I do miss the honesty of Reedsy feedback though. Thanks for the read Leo.

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11:29 Sep 22, 2021

You make money writing for Vocal? I might have to check that out... I mean, Reedsy wasn't bad in the past--and still isn't terrible--but it is going down the tubes.

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Tom .
18:08 Sep 22, 2021

Vocal on one level is awful. The worst amateur writing you can imagine. Extremely liberal and anti religious content. Extraordinary bad editorial decisions but it does seem to be growing. You are young, I am older. It may be a platform for you to sharpen your teeth. I use it to combat boredom and isolation. You could use it as a practice for what you do next. I warn you though it will frustrate the hell out of you.

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Tom .
18:10 Sep 22, 2021

My profile... https://vocal.media/authors/tom-brad

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Tom .
18:12 Sep 22, 2021

Current account balance after almost 8 months... $1665.81 US... But I did place in two contests... I have only made $50 in reads the difference is tips and bonuses...

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Cathryn V
07:00 Jun 13, 2021

Hi Tom, this piece is lovely, so quiet it feels like i am with you at the well.

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Tom .
09:38 Jun 13, 2021

Thank you I was really pleased with how it turned out.

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Josephine Samuel
11:11 May 24, 2021

This is an intelligent piece Tom. Thought provoking too.

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Tom .
13:53 May 24, 2021

Thank you

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