“If wishes were water, there would be no word for thirst.” – Traditional

The wishing well

Must wish you well

For here

And ever after

The wishing well

A willing slave

Makes your wish

The master

 

They’d rented a cabin, off in the back of nowhere, because there was so much family and so much to do, but who wants to deal with any of that right now?  They’ve been married, and when you’re just married nothing else really matters at all.  So they picked a place where none of it could bother them, where they could just be with each other and stay together, pretending that time never had to come back in.

The young lady running the retreat was very polite, very kind.  She explained carefully which paths to take to find their cabin, which was all ready for them.

“As you know, we’ve piped in for running water in all the cabins, but there isn’t any electricity besides the water heater and the main heater for the cabin.  No cell signals, no televisions, no computers, none of that silliness.  Just you and your companion, until the end of the week.  Have an excellent stay, and don’t hesitate to come tell me if there’s anything you need.”  Her smile was warm as she handed them the little tag to hang on the front of their door.  “Just to show it’s occupied, you see.  We don’t really need locks out here, not when we already know each other, do we?”

 

The walk up to the cabin was steep enough to put both of them out of their breath, get the blood up and moving.  They didn’t feel the autumn snap in the mountain air at all by the time they reached the door.  It said 4, just like on their little round tab, and they hung the tab on the hook over the number, giggling to each other.

She carried him over the threshold, just because.  And they laughed, and all lit up with love, they kissed and kissed until all the breath they could share between them ran out.  Then they separated for a second, and went off to find the bedroom.  After that, well, it went about as you might think, and some things are private.

The first day went about like that, too.  There was plenty of food in the icebox, a fireplace to warm drinks when they wanted to, a stream to cool them when they didn’t.  The second day they didn’t even notice going by.  They only noticed when it was time to light the lamps. The third day, even the lamps stayed dark.

On the fourth day, one of them looked to the other and said, “Let’s go exploring, my love.  There’s all this brilliant mountain we may not see again for a while, so let’s see it while we’re here.”

“Mmmmm.”  The other one looked thoughtful, then grinned.  “Indeed, there are a lot of places to explore the possibilities of, dear love.  Let’s find all of them, and see what possibilities there are!”

 

So they went out together, just after dawn, and set off tracing the paths that wound up and down the mountain.  Most of them were clearly marked – Cabin 5, Office, Private Do Not Enter.  Some were little more than game trails.

Well, these were mostly city people, and they’d forgotten two very important things.  First, that mountain paths are not like roads; they have a life of their own, and are not obliged to keep going at all, much less the direction you expect them to go.  Second, that out in the wild places, there’s not much around that cares whether humans can see or not.  So, if you’re going to be out after dark, bring a light.  If you have no light, be sure you can find your way back to some before the sun sets.

So, of course, they started trying some of the little trails, all strewn with crunchy leaves and moss, to see where these unmarked paths of adventure would lead.  When one petered out, they’d backtrack to find the nearest turnoff, confident in their hearts that this was people country, after all, and they’d find their way back soon enough.

But soon enough was when the sun began to drop sharply behind the shoulder of the mountain, and they began to feel a little alone and worried.  They called out, but no one replied, except the forest going deadly silent around them at the noise.

 

All was not lost, though.  They did find a larger trail, one that looked beaten down by many feet, that looked as though it must lead to familiar ground.  There was a weathered, overgrown wooden sign pushed flat into the undergrowth beside the turnoff.  In a flowing, delicate hand, it said Wishing Well.

“A wishing well!  It’s perfect, my love.  And we’ll be able to find our way back from there easily, I’m sure.”

“It… has a sign, at least, even if it’s an old one.  It can’t lead us any further into nowhere than we already are.”

So off they went, hand in hand, following the trail to the Wishing Well.  It hadn’t been in the brochure, but certainly it sounded romantic and a little thrilling.

It wasn’t a long trail, and it was very clear, easy on their feet.  They were tired, and relieved at finally having found a path that was more walking than climbing.  So they walked, and rested their lungs and hearts and legs, and talked of what they would do, when they went back to the real world.  It was just beginning to feel like being back in a human-run, human-friendly kind of world would be a bit of a relief.

 

The space between one step and another, beneath two arching trees all decked in orange and gold and crimson, brought them into the clearing.  It was startlingly warm, and felt almost like summer.  The sun was hiding itself completely by now, but a fat, bright, welcoming moon gave them plenty of light.

Sure enough, right in the center of the circle of clearing, there was a well.  It was aged red brick, with no roof at all.  Just a circle of brick, with the promising burble of water chuckling to itself in the deepness. There was a long, bronze plaque on one side, scribed in with letters so old and worn that they were almost illegible.

“Oh, let’s dip our toes in, do!  It’s so warm here, and my feet ache something awful.”

“You, my love, are brilliant.  That’s just the idea we needed.”

So they shucked off boots and socks, and sat on the ledge of the well.  The water just brushed up against the tips of their toes, tickling and inviting.

 

“It is a wishing well, you know, my love.  Make a wish for yourself, so we will have something to look forward to when we go back!”

“You know wishing on wells is silly, but I suppose it can’t hurt anything.  I wish for a long, long life to spend with you.”

“Oh, you wonderful, silly creature!  I wish for all our dreams to come true, together.”

And they laughed, and held hands, and enjoyed the feel of the water soothing their tired, swollen, hot feet, gently lapping against their heels.

“You know, this isn’t such a bad game, after all.  I wish for you always to be just as lovely to me as you are, this very moment.”

“Well then, I wish for *you* always to be as close to me, in heart and in spirit, as you are right this very second!”

Laughter then, a little tinged with the tears that come from too much laughter and not a little relief that everything will, everything must turn out all right, after all.  And the water felt so delicious and cool against their legs, that who could argue?

“Ah-hah!  I know the perfect wish.  I wish for both of us to be madly, desperately, hopelessly in love with each other, just as we are now, forever and ever and ever.”

“Hmmm.  I think we can manage that.  Then I, therefore, wish for everywhere we go to be as wonderful, and as amazing, as this moment.”

 

They embraced then, and kissed, and were madly in love and gleeful with it.  Then something happened, no one knows what.  Instead of the water kissing and lapping up against their knees, something happened.  A loose brick turned, or one of them lost their balance, or they were too busy kissing and laughing to stay perched on the wall underneath them.

She slipped into the water, him reaching after her, but she went straight down under, almost as if she were pulled by a deep river current under the rock.  He called and called for her, desperate, panicking.  He was stripping off his shirt to go in after her when she came back up.

Her hair was all slick and wet, plastered back to her head, kelp decorating her delicately, just as flowers had on their wedding day.  She reached up with both hands, the peaks of her breasts just visible above the cool, dark water.

“I wish for us, my love.  I wish for us.  I wish for all our wishes to come true.”

She pulled him down gently, so gently, so she could kiss him.  His eyes went wide with shock, then glassy with cold, and he did not resist as she pulled him down into the wishing well with her.  They slipped beneath the surface, invisible and silent.

 

Miles away, there was a small clink.  The friendly young lady at the desk looked over to the end of the counter, empty only a second before.  There was a bottle of dark red wine, chill and dripping.  Beside it there lay a little round disk of wood, burned with the number 4 on it, bone dry.

The young lady smiled, a friendly and welcoming smile.

“Why, thank you, Lady.  I am pleased to have been of service.”  And she opened the wine, and poured a small libation to the dirt beside the front door.  “To your very good health.”  Then she poured herself a glass, and lounged into the chair behind the counter, sipping thoughtfully, a pleased and carnivorous delight tugging at the corners of her eyes.

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