The Boy and the Wishing Well

Stephanie Echem

Once upon a time at the edge of an old town was a groundwater well; now, this was no ordinary well; legend had long been told that it had possessed a certain magic—that it was, in fact, a wishing well. For a long time, the townsfolk would wish for just about anything: pleas like, “I wish I had a million dollars!” or, “I want to have all the food in the world!” or, “I want my leg back!”—this one, of course, belonging to an elderly fellow named One-Legged Larry, a moniker eventually used by the entire town; others, however, would ask with more serious requests—requests like, “I wish I could have a child,” or, “I wish I were out of debt,” or more recently, “I just want to find my boy,” but after a little while, with no millionaire or even a Two-Legged Larry in sight, the people grew to doubt the magic of the well and would later seem to forget all about it.

Now, run dry and in disuse, the well was covered in an overgrowth of both moss and shame; no one in the town cared to consider that old, forgotten thing; instead, they were all preoccupied with going about their day: the men working in their offices; the women tidying their houses; the children playing in their fields; everyone was too busy without too much of a longing wish to think of telling it to a silly, old well—that is, until one boy did.

For a youth of no more than eight years, the boy was not very popular; in fact, he’d swear that he had no friends at all and that all the other children in the town didn’t like him; “Buttheydon’t likeme!”heinsistedathismother’sdenial;“Idon’tknowaboutthat,”she replied; “Have you even tried?” but suddenly off with a groan and tearful eyes, he marched up to his room and onto his bed, infuriated by his mother’s curt response; “Have you even tried?” he mimicked; didn’t she remember all the times of when he had gone out and tried to make the children to invite him into their games? What was the use of trying again? “They don’t like me!” he cried; then, after a short time, gently behind him, “Sweetheart, did I ever tell you the story of the wishing well?” asked his mother.

“The wishing well?” sniffed the boy.
“You know, that old well that sits at the edge of town? It’s got lots of moss all over it?” “Oh, that old thing? A wishing well?”

“Yes, but it wasn’t always like that; you see, not too long ago, people from all over this town would go there to see if their wishes would come true; you know, wishes like, ‘I want to be rich,’ or, ‘I want a puppy for Christmas.’”

“And did they?”
“Well, legend has it they did.”
“How come I don’t hear about it?”
“Well, ever since it ran dry, people stopped using it, and they eventually forgot about

“Then why are you telling me about it?”
“Honey, I want you to know that if you ever need something, like a friend or somebody

to play with, you could always try making a wish for it; just say your wish to the well, and see if it comes true.”

Suddenly, “Mama, that’s the silliest thing I ever heard!” giggled the boy; did his mother really believe in that concoction of a story, or was she just trying to lift his spirits?

“Well, at least I got you to smile,” confessed his mother; “Now, come on. Dinner’s ready,” and off they went; however, ever since his mother had told that story, the boy couldn’t stop thinking about the well and its supposed magic, and because the days weren’t seeming to get any more interesting, he finally decided to try his luck.

“Going out?” asked his mother on one afternoon; the boy, catching a gleam of hope in her eyes but not wanting to reveal his true intentions, yelled, “Yeah! I’ll be back for dinner!” as he sped past his mother and straight through the front door; running eagerly across town now, he could make out through wisps of wind the exuberant laughter of the children who were playing all about him; this only made him to want his wish even more.

Finally reaching the far end of town, the boy stopped and quickly caught sight of the well; panting and stepping cautiously to its moss-grown wall, “This better work,” he murmured, and unveiling a coin in his palm, he said, “Mama never mentioned anything about a coin, but just in case—” and tossed it into the well; after finally hearing the end of the coin’s fall, “Wow!” he hollered, for it was a deep well; “‘Ow!” seemed to echo back his voice; then, “Is anybody there?” he jokingly inquired.

“Is anybody there?”
“I’m here!” boasted the boy, enjoying the strange sound of the echo. “I’m here!”
“What are you doing there?”
“What are you doing there?”
“Making a wish!”

“Making a wish?” the echo seemed to question. Now seriously remembering the reason for which he came there in the first place, the boy gravely admitted, “I just wish I had a friend to play with.”

“I just wish I had a friend to play with,” sympathized the echo. “Do you want to be my friend?” continued the boy.
“Do you want to be my friend?”

“Sure!” the echo agreed, but suddenly tired of his little game, the boy backed away and grunted, “Oh, what’s the use; it’s just a silly, old well anyway,” so he turned around, went on his way home, and that was that; to him, it was just a moment that he would probably soon forget, but it was unforgettable to the boy whose strange voice would later echo again out of that old, forgotten well, asking, “Where did you go?” 

 Empowering youth and young adults to use their passions, talents, and skills to make a difference!   CONTACT US!