A to Z 2017–W is for Well Water

W is for Well Water

It had always been William’s job. He was the one who got the water. It was Aurinda’s job, now. Two buckets after breakfast, two more after supper. Extra on wash days or anytime mama said.

She shuffled her feet as she walked, creating a cloud of dust that she could taste. Aurinda didn’t want to fetch the water, but somebody had to. It wouldn’t be William. Not anymore.

Since she was only nine, plus a girl, mama said she didn’t have to carry two buckets at once. That was good. She didn’t think she could even lift two buckets, leastwise not without spilling. One would be hard enough. She knew it would take longer to do one at a time. Didn’t matter. You do what you got to do.

As she walked toward the well in the town square, she hesitated. This was her first time here without her big brother, but you do what you got to do.

With her bucket hooked on the rope, she realized she couldn’t reach the crank to unwind it. She tugged down on the bucket and found the rope uncoiled easily, causing the crank handle to spin.

A splash told her she’d hit the water, but then a howling started up and made her scream. Was it coming from the well? It surely sound like it was. Tingles ran up her spine and she nearly felt like crying.

She realized what it must be, then, and fear turned to anger. “Jace McCall,” she shouted down the well. “You stop this instant. That ain’t a bit funny.”

“Aurinda May?” She spun at the voice. “Aurinda, who you shouting at?” Her eyes grew wide as Jace and his brother Thomas crossed the square from their father’s shop.

Her eyes fell back on the well and she backed away. If that wasn’t Jace…

“Auri? What’s the matter?”

The moan sounded again, louder and more distinct.

Thomas, who wouldn’t be nine until the end of summer, ran away shrieking. “It’s a ghost! A ghost down the well!” The shop door jangled as he hurried inside.

Jace moved more slowly, but also backed away from the well. “Auri, I think we need to go.”

“I told my mama I’d fetch the water,” she said. “I’m big enough. I gotta fetch the water.”

“But William….” His words trailed off as he stared at the well.

A thought suddenly occurred to Aurinda. She took a deep breath, straightened her back, and walked toward the watering place.

“No, Auri! Don’t” Jace sputtered as she climbed to the edge of the well wall and took hold of the crank. He moved toward her. She thought he’d try to pull her down. She was afraid he’d accidentally push her in.

“I gotta get the water!” she screamed, tears now pouring down her cheeks. The call from the well seemed quieter now. More distant.

Turning the crank was easier than she expected, especially from her perch on the wall. But for some reason she wasn’t surprised.

When the bucket was pulled all the way up, she secured the crank while Jace unhooked the pail for her. He placed it on the cobbles and stared at her.

“Why’d you do that, Auri? Scared me near to death.” He kicked at the stones beneath his feet. “I thought that was William—that he would pull you right down where he’d gone.”

Aurinda smiled then—first time since her brother fell down the well. “I think it really was him,” she said. “But he’d never hurt me, so I knew he must be here to help.” She picked up the bucket and started back toward her house. “Mama needs this water. You to what you got to do.”

 

 

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Comments

  1. What a gripping scary tale! Well said!
    ————————————————
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

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