It was a bright spring day, and the last day of the fair was winding down.
On the path through the exit was a well, dug not too deep, with little water. No one knew if it had always been there, or was built to supply the fair. No one claimed it, as far as anyone knew, but every now and then, just for giggles, a passerby would stand there and look down, close their eyes, and toss in a pocket coin or two, or some worthless trinket, their lips moving soundlessly as they made a supposed wish.
He was just a kid, and still believed in wishes, and the unseen agents that made them come true; fairies, monsters, aliens, and grandparents.
Holding his mother’s hand, he dug into his pocket with his free hand, and threw in a coin, a silver one. He couldn’t remember which one it was, but it flashed in the light of the setting sun as it spun, hit the stones on the far side, and pinged its way down into the brackish water.
He closed his eyes, and made his wish.
His mom looked down at him and smiled.
“What’d you wish for?”
“It’s a secret,” he said, smiling back up at her.
There was a soft knock on the door to his room, late at night.
Moonlight spilled through his window, lighting the face of his bedtime bear.
“Mom?” he whispered.
He got up, rubbed his eyes, and walked barefoot to the door.
Taking a deep breath to stop the little feathers of fear from tickling his spine, he peered out.
She was there, in all her bloody glory, her good eye staring at him from under a crimson crust of dried blood.
“I didn’t think you’d come. Not really.”
“Then why’d you make the wish?”
“I wanted to see you; I just thought….I didn’t think you’d come.”
“I have no choice once you make the wish, Ben. Didn’t you know that?”
“I wish you hadn’t woke me up, but my wishes don’t count, and I can’t buy one; dead people have no money.”
“I’m sorry, Susie. Should I wish you back?”
“It’s okay. Can I come in? Maybe we can read some comics or something….”
“I was drawing,” Ben said, stepping aside, “but you know where the comics are.”
They stayed in silence for awhile, but Susie noticed Ben kept glancing at her.
“My face scares you?”
“Sorry. The well doesn’t clean us up, even though it’s got water in it.”
They lapsed into silence some more before Ben broke it.
“I’m sorry about everything. About how everything happened.”
“Me too, Ben. You left me.”
“I know. I shouldn’t have. I got scared, and you were older, and…”
“Still coulda used your help. You were supposed to be my friend.”
“I never stopped being your friend, Susie.”
Susie stood up. “Really?”
“Really.” Ben felt a small pang of nervousness that she’d gotten up.
“Would you do me a favor then?”
“Don’t see how I can. You’re a –”
Susie splashed into his body, squirmed her way past his struggling defenses, and lodged herself inside him.
Ben was frozen with pain, his mouth was stretched, his eyes bulged, his heart raced, and his face was as hot as if he’d put it in a vat full of grease.
“Don’t fight me, Ben.”
He quieted, crying, feeling betrayed and violated, which he was.
“Why’d you do that?”
“You said we were still friends. Now you can prove it.”
“Get out, Susie.”
“No. We’ll never be separated again, Ben.”
Ben regained his composure, sniffling, blowing his nose, feeling Susie flinch inside him at the sensation.
Ben went to the mirror, watched the faint glow in his eyes as her life force pulsed within him, and he smiled.
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
“What do you mean?”
“The day after that happened to you, he came and got me. I was supposed to sleep in her room, but she cried herself to sleep, so I came in here.
Ben held up the picture he’d been drawing.
“My mother threw a coin in the well yesterday at the fair.”
© Alfred W. Smith Jr.