Week 3 Day 4
There once was a boy who lived near a well. The well was very deep and narrow and every day he would fill a pail from its depths. One morning, the sun was just right, tree leaves rustled just so and all the birds sang the most piping of tunes, leaving the boy enchanted.
As he did every morning, he set the pail on the lip of the well. The rope for lowering buckets dangled just out of reach. Stretching on tip toe, he snatched at it. But his extended body knocked the pail over the edge. With a quick grab, the boy too was drawn into the well’s pit.
He fell, the decent lasting an eternity. Finally, land he did and quickly all became black. When he woke, the sun above was gone leaving only moon glow to outline the opening so very far, far above. He called but no one answered. No bones were broken, just cuts and scrapes. He tried climbing but the walls were slick with moss and bulbous mushrooms. The boy took stock of his situation. He was knee deep in water with little to eat. On the plus side, a small pile of fallen leaves poked above the waterline in the middle of the well’s pool. Being the only dry spot, the boy sat down to wait.
The next morning, a bucket descended. With great joy the boy cried out. Unfortunately, the echo along the well’s long walls transformed his cries into a demon’s wail. The woman drawing water heard a terrible keening and ran screaming.
“The well! The well is haunted! A demon lives in the well!”
The boy’s family believed that he had run away. For the day before when they called down the well, there was no response. Unconscious at the time, the boy never heard them. When news reached them of a well demon, they knew then that their son had not run away but had been devoured by an evil water spirit. The village, not very sophisticated but very superstitious, declared the well haunted and no one was allowed near it.
After a few days without water drawn, the boy realized he was forgotten. This would frighten most little boys. But this was a young man of resource. With no rescue forthcoming, he cried, only once, because scared little boys need to cry. Better to be done with it.
After wiping tears, he looked around. His stomach told him he was hungry. There were no fish only frogs whose songs kept him awake at night. Not quick enough to catch one, only moss and mushrooms were a possibility. The walls grew all the way to the top with both. Mushrooms could be poisonous. He tried the moss. His first taste was horrid but it did stay down. So he tried again. The next bite was every bit as bad. With time the boy became use to it. With time, he also tried the mushrooms to vary his diet.
He was never poisoned.
So began a new life at the bottom of the well. The boy marked time watching the leaves fall from above into little piles that he shoved to the middle to increase his perch. Day after day, the boy notched each new elevation on the side of the well.
Days, months and finally years passed as the boy became a young man. With each passing day, his love of solitude grew. Family and friends he missed but there was an appreciable beauty in time as it flowed over him. Everything occurred moment by moment or all in a single instant, time itself became meaningless. That is until one morning when the young man woke to see his pile of leaves grown to such a height that he could now touch the top of the well. He had lived more life in the well than out, the thought of leaving terrified him. Would the people of the village know him? Would his family still love him? Finally, he could no longer wait. He had to get back to his life – to his time. He reached up and grasped the top of the well warmed by the sun.
Poking his head out, he saw no one. Because it was assumed a demon lived in the well, everyone in the village, including his family had left long ago. The boy who was now a man walked through what once were familiar surroundings. Everything seemed smaller, not the same. He found his house and it too felt different, as if his memories were someone else’s. Wandering back to the well he found a large frog waiting for him.
“Nothing is the same?” the frog asked.
“You never talked before,” responded the young man.
“You never asked. Listen. You will never be what you once were. People from the past will miss that most, the old you. Now, you must find your life and stop letting this well suck dry any more of it.”
The young man listened intently to the frog.
“That is sagely advice. The boy I was is gone. The man I am to be, I must find.”
“A sagely response,” and with that the frog hopped back down the well.