At the end of the day, as I slipped into the cool covers of my blanket; my mother would come in and tell me about the wishing well. It was not a story of actions and heroes nor one from a children’s storybook but instead of a well, a spring bubbling clear and soundless into a shallow pool. I, in my defeated want for action would press my eyes shut in the hopes of this story fading into a distant land away from my mind and my dreams.
She would speak of the wishing well, as a place of infinite dreams and possibilities. Each stone, each wish, was carefully picked from amidst the debris that cluttered around her and her friends; the perfect stone was thrown only with confidence. I would often imagine my mother, a woman with vacant, sorrow stricken eyes be once again occupied with youth. Every night the well tackled my mind and every morning I would pass the well, only to see cracked stones and moss covered pebbles that were jaded across the middle of the murky water. I found myself confused as to the beauty of it, knowing that as the evening rolled around, the intangible yet dreamlike well would yet accompany me in my sleep.
She would speak of the wishing well as a place of happiness and excitement. Each stone, each wish, was a demand to leave this town and leave the people that stuck around. The grey clouds of my home town were never enough for her. I would hear about the people who had left this place for a better life; a sign that she would always be stuck in small town with small minded folks.
My eyes would roll back into my sockets signaling my lips to gently relaxing as a defeat to the night. A residue of bitterness would settle in. Am I, born in a small town full of small minded people just the same? Knowing my jealous mother, resentful of her past, present, and future, it would be foolish to not believe so. My need to please her suffered the blow of rejection as I could not do so. I felt my childhood stolen as my dreams were not fluttering with the happiness and color she had. I had not gone to wish in that well for its lies and deceit and so my mind, filled with heavy stones, was covered with years of thoughts that accumulated.
If happiness and love were the water in the wishing well, than I was a still rock in a fast moving river. A river too fast for me to catch up with. This river would be vibrant with life and fish- Each colour would be represented by either the water or the vegetation around it. The specks of gold that glistened on the silky streams would have no affect on that grey, stubborn rock. But unlike the river, I knew I had held my mother back from a life that ended in waterfalls. I knew she wished to be the one to fall and rise as a holographic mist; for she created all the reflections of rainbows in her words alone just as a sun creates them in rain. Unlike a stone in a river, I had been the dam in a city. Leaching off her qualities and resources and slowly killing the life that could have been- should have been nourished further on. Of course, she never explicitly told me this but her uncombed hair and shrinking, frail frame had been proof of the drainage. Her bony calves and slumped shoulders spoke of the burden she felt towards the well and the boy that had left the city so many years ago, flushed her cheeks. Sitting on my bedside would be the only time her eyes would focus on me. Her hollow cheekbones proved that the dead are not always in the ground, some are still waiting for their turn. Some are still waiting for their life to turn around.
At the end of that day, as I slipped into the frosty grey covers of my bed, the stones in my mind exhausted my efforts to keep them in my head . I shut my eyes before the soft pattering of flip-flops reached my door. The metal twisting of the doorknob willed my eyebrows to smooth and my jaw to lose its grip on reality. I played unconscious until her sunken eyes lifted away from my face. It was then, as she gave into the distant calling of the television that I rose up to end my dismay. My brain filled to shallow brim with debris of my mother’s sickness, compelled me to soundlessly walk to the wishing well.
Its weathered appearance struck me as defeated. The well, abandoned and tossed aside by everyone but my mother was too glorified to be allowed to rest. I saw that its years had come to an end and that its beauty was tarnished by the life growing on it. I picked up a jagged, green, glass bottle, aiming for the stones that were placed with love inside the pond. My mother’s wishes were placed so carefully in that brown water. I aimed and continued to do so until my eyes were wells of their own. I wanted to destroy and tear the well to the point of beyond recognition. My clogged heart allowing a small spring of tears to stream down my cheeks made everything else seem still. I distanced myself from my rage and instead looked around- At the stars that were so carefully sprinkled across the sky. The moonlight that reflected across the silvery clouds and my own face. The forest surrounding the well was almost a wall from the real world, its ghostly appearance was enhanced by the black water within. I wiped my tears away and stared at the broken green bottle. It must have been discarded with no care for its placement therefore it could not possibly belong in this well. I struggled to see in the dim-lit park, but my efforts were not wasted when I found the perfect stone. It’s edges smoothed by time, I found a stone worthy of calling the well its home.