On a warm summer day in Oklahoma, Daisy encounters a lost soul, trapped and forgotten many years ago. Get the tale after the jump.
Girl Down A Well
Friends in Odd Places
Daisy ran through the golden high grass and wildflower fields with Wilbur. She stretched out her hands and brushed the itchy shafts. Her frizzy, wheat colored curls bobbed up and down with each stride, and she hummed ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ over and over again. Wilbur trotted alongside: The Jack Russell terrier barking and yipping as he chased butterflies.
They were far from their new house. It was really an old house. One built during something called a dust bowl. But it didn’t seem very dusty to Daisy. There was a lot of grass and flowers around.
Daisy snuck out when she should be home unpacking her toys. She was a curious girl, who had never seen countryside like Oklahoma’s rolling hills. Her earliest memories were always the hot red rocks of Arizona. That’s if a 5-year old could have early memories.
She and Wilbur broke through the grassy fields and found a clearing. In it lie the foundation of an old house and a brick well with old, decaying boards across the top. The planks were bunched together with only a few gaps. And the well wall still peaked up over the ground, maybe 3 bricks high.
Wilber ran over and started barking. He growled and lowered his head, exposing his new adult dog teeth.
Daisy skipped over to him and hushed him. She didn’t want Mom and Dad to hear and give away their adventure.
The little girl got startled by something from the well.
A voice, more like a low, winding whistle, came from the well. Each word sounded like a struggle to say.
“Hello,” it said. “Can you … help me?”
Daisy looked at the well surprised by the voice.
“Are you okay?”
“I … need … favor,” it cooed.
Daisy started to get scared. “Let me get my mommy and daddy to get you…” but she got cut off by the voice.
“No …,” it replied. “I … need … Ellen.”
“Who’s Ellen?” Daisy asked, now curious.
“My … friend,” the voice whistled back.
“Well, I can be your friend, too,” Daisy said and nodded her head with confidence. “What’s your name? It’s hard to be friends if I can’t call you your name.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Maggie,” the little girl said. “My name is Daisy. I’m happy to be your friend.”
Daisy crept through through the short grass in the backyard and opened a screen door that led to the kitchen. She hoped to avoid her mother. Mommy would be angry that she went farther than the backyard.
It creaked and alerted her mom.
“Daisy!” she commanded. “I thought I asked you to unpack your toys.”
“I know, Mommy, but I wanted to see the backyard and Wilbur insisted,” Daisy replied and gave her mother the big, green-eyed googley look. That look always got her out of trouble.
“Wilbur, huh?” her mom replied. “Ok then, but don’t go so far. We don’t know if there’s snakes or coyotes out there.”
Daisy nodded in agreement. “Could you help me get a doll?” she asked.
Her mother looked perturbed by the request. “Honey, they’re in the box in your room. If you unpacked them like I asked, then…”
But Daisy cut her off. “It’s not my dolly, Mommy. It’s for a friend.”
A friend? her mother thought. How would she have a friend. We just moved here 2 days ago. There’s no one around for 3 miles.
“Who’s your friend?” Mommy asked and brushed back her matching wheat-colored curls.
“Maggie.” Daisy said. “And her doll is Ellen. Ellen’s in my closet.”
Her mother became just as curious as her daughter.
“Where does Daddy keep the screwdrivers?” Daisy asked. “We might need one.”
The Great Escape
It was a quarter after midnight when Daisy woke up. She had a dream about Maggie asking for Ellen. It was more like pleading for the doll.
In her dream, she saw Maggie, alone in the dark, splashing around at the bottom of well, crying, and feeling around the cold bricks. Daisy couldn’t stand that thought. If her friend needed the doll now, she was going to bring it to her pronto.
She hopped out of bed and put on her pink bunny slippers. On Daisy’s bedside table, Ellen leaned against a unicorn-shade lamp. Half the doll’s ratty, blond hair had fallen off its cracked, porcelain head. Dirt had caked around its eyes, its sailor dress was torn along its seams, and the dress had lost its buttons.
Daisy picked up the doll and gave it a hug. Ellen would be home with Maggie soon enough. And that made Daisy happy.
She put a purple sweater with feathery frills over her unicorns-and-rainbows jammies and opened her bedroom door. It didn’t creak. A good sign for escaping to the see Maggie.
The little girl tiptoed down the hall toward the kitchen. There wasn’t even a creak to warn her parents.
Daisy opened the cabinet below the sink to get a lantern. Daddy always had flashlights and lanterns around. He must be scared of the dark, she thought.
She held an LED lantern up and hit the power button. It flashed white light so bright, it hurt her eyes. Daisy pressed the power button two times to lower it and scanned the scanned the kitchen. No parents yet.
She smiled and then saw the challenge of a creaky screendoor. Mommy always heard it.
Daisy reached for the handle and was just about to turn it when she heard scampering behind her. It was Wilbur. He had wide eyes and wagged his nubby tail like a windshield wiper in heavy rain.
Daisy shushed him and tapped her leg for him to come. He let out a low whine and strode over to her. Then, she pulled the screen door open, inch by inch.
It made one creak, no louder than the crickets outside.
Daisy’s heart raced with excitement. She had never been up this late, nor had she ever betrayed her parents by sneaking out this late. It could be her only chance.
“Let’s go!” she exclaimed in a hushed breath to Wilbur. She and the pooch dashed outside, letting the screen door slam against its frame. They dove into the high grass and wildflowers behind the house. Daisy ran with Ellen tucked under her arm like a running back trying to score the winning touchdown. She held the lantern in the other like the Statue of Liberty’s torch.
She looked behind her and saw the light turn on in her parents’ room. It glowed a menacing orange as Daisy slipped deeper into the grassland. Her lantern slicing through the darkness with Wilbur at her heels, yipping away.
As she plowed through the grass, the locusts leapt into her way. She brushed them aside, feeling their scratchy limbs rub against her skin and bouncing off her face.
“Daisy! Come back here! Where are you going?!” her father bellowed in the distance. She knew he’d take her toys away for a week, but she had to get Ellen to Maggie.
The little girl broke through the grass to the clearing with the old well and stopped. She bent over, panting. Daisy had never run so far or so fast before. It made her side hurt like someone jabbed her under her ribs with a pencil. She set the lantern down and Wilbur circled around her, hopping up and down. He wanted to run and play more.
Daisy looked back toward the house and saw a light slicing through the grass just like her. It was Daddy. And Daddy would be mad.
Daisy hurried over to the well and plucked Ellen out from her arm.
“Maggie?” she asked, trying to see through the crisscrossed planks that covered the well.
“Ellen … you … found … Ellen,” she replied in her whistle-like voice.
“I’ve got to give her back to you,” a frantic Daisy said while trying to push the doll through a gap. “But she won’t fit through the openings.”
Daisy stepped up on the planks to use her foot and push Ellen through, but they groaned from the little girl’s weight. The cracking sounds pierced the night and silenced the crickets.
“NoOoOOooo …” Maggie’s voice wailed and waned as the boards gave way.
Daisy felt her feet slip out from under her. The planks fracturing into shards and tumbling down the shaft. She let Ellen go and twisted to grab the side of the well. Her hands latching onto the shallow casing.
Her body hit the side of the old well with a thud. She hung from the crumbling bricks. One pink bunny slipper falling into the dark waters below.
Wilbur raced over to the well. His howling and barking ignited the fireflies in the darkened grass around them. Their green lights pulsed like a heartbeat.
The bricks Daisy held began to slip. Each one wiggling and wobbling under her weight and attempts to pull herself up. She was so tired from running: Her grip started to loosen with them.
“Daisy!” she heard her father yell. He had just come through the trail she bore through the grass. She could see his flashlight beam cross over the well.
But she couldn’t hold on anymore. Her tender fingers edged off the casing.
As she fell backwards, something pressed against her. Daisy couldn’t see what it was. Only darkness and the moldy smell of putrid water surrounded her in mid-air.
“Not … you … not … now” was all she heard as the pressure pushed her to the top of the well.
Daisy’s father grabbed her by the arm and pull her up like she was a doll herself. He cradled her and brushed her curls from her face. His green eyes peering into hers.
“You know, I’m going to lock you in your room for life,” he said with an aching voice. Daddy began to cry and Daisy gave him the biggest hug she could.
But she wasn’t done yet.
The little girl wiggled free and leaned over the well.
“Thank you, Maggie!” she yelled down the dark well shaft.
“Thank … you … for … Ellen … I … go … now,” she cooed back. Her voice trailing off in a gentle echo that bounced along the well shaft.
“Don’t worry, Maggie. I won’t forget you,” Daisy said. “You can visit me anytime.”
And Daisy began to hum ‘Hickory Dickory Dock’ again.
Ghosts Want to Talk
Most ghosts don’t want to scare you. They want to talk or they may need something.
There’s a reason why they stay behind after the die. That reason usually deals with unfinished business. It could be a message for a loved one. It may be something they need to pass on like Maggie.
If you ever encounter a scary ghost, it’s likely a monster instead. Some people call them dark spirits or demons. A regular ghost won’t hurt you.
They may even help you when you need it.