The Well

This story was written in 2013. It was the year that I decided to pursue writing in earnest and realized just how much I had to learn. I pounced upon every strange idea. I wrote even when things didn’t make complete sense. The following a cryptic, though emotional, product of that time.

-J

 

Mary Lindstrom sat bent-kneed on the toilet- it was her break. Even though she didn’t need to go, it was her ritual to waste 15 minutes in the bathroom at 11:50 each morning. Today, she was reading the back of a Lysol can intended to cover the stink of human waste. She’d read through the English part and was working her way through the Spanish. She whispered it to herself at first, remembering high-school, feeling the back of her thighs go numb. Waving her torso on top of the toilet, she gestured and contorted her eyebrows like Antonio Banderas- a muted caricature meant to entertain herself. Bored Vaudeville.

 

Then

 

She hears a drop from the drain in the middle of the room. Strange, because there is no puddle of water seeping across the tiles, leading to the drain. She continues reading about PELIGROSOS until there is another sound. A whimper. Mary Lindstrom freezes. A co-worker shuffles by outside- she hears the loud sound of his khakis swishing together. She squeezes her thighs together, defensive.

 

Mary leans to the right. She peers into the drain.

 

The holes in the cover have been mopped clear but there is standing water in the bottom of the pipe, two feet down. Mary considers why the drain is clogged, and how the maintenance crew must have certainly failed. She looks down into the reflection, at how fat and ugly her brow is when she creases it like that. She leans over into the well-mirror, hates her jowls and hates her pity-smile. As she is practicing all the things she loathes, a drop falls.

 

An eight-year-old boy’s face is there. His eyes have bruised purple sockets. His hair is messy stubble. His teeth are bright white and loose. Mary gazes at him, jowl slack. He screams a silent plea again. What is it his lips form: Help? Hey? Whore? Mary sees the top bones of his scrawny chest. They peak and curve like the fragile wings of a bird. The boy is just crying now. Mary is just watching. The water in the bottom of the drain stands still.

 

The next day Mary has a hard time relaxing enough to go. All she can feel is the dry skin on the tops of her thighs, and how hard the seat presses in to her butt.

She hears the whimper again. This time, the voice is clear.

 

“Please- I saw you, I know you can hear me. You’re the only one. You can hear me. I saw your face. Please… please… I know I’m not imagining you…You can help me.”

 

Mary stares ahead. Her hand raises.

 

She pulls paper.