Saturday, 9 April 2011

THE WELL By Phil Ambler


“Hello! Hello!”
I slump against the wall. Down into the cold, wet mud. My cries echoing up into
the dark.
Tears well up as I sit there; the damp seeping into my skirt.
I cry.
Eventually I sleep.
I wake.
Slowly I open my eyes, hoping for, hoping for, hoping for.......hope. Hoping for
sunshine, for flowers, for children playing, laughing, singing.
I shut my eyes. There are no children.
When I open my eyes it is as before. Darkness. Dankness. Despair.
I am here; alone. I’ve been here days (?), definitely, weeks (?) possibly. And
always just me, here alone. Except sometimes for him.
Tulips. I remember the smell of tulips. Deep. Heady. Wonderful.
I sleep.
I wake. It is the same. No children. No laughter. No singing.
The bricks are there. They are always there. Encircling me. Watching me. Mocking
“Stop it”, I shout.
Yet still they stare. Silent, craggy, stone-clad faces in the bricks. Mocking
me. Always.
Maybe if I am quiet they will go away. Quiet like a mouse, like a church mouse,
like a good, quiet church mouse.
I giggle.
“Shush”, I say, finger to my lips, then clamp my hand firmly over my mouth.
“Got to be quiet”, I think.
I sit, in silence, waiting, thinking, wishing.
I sleep.
I dream.
It is bright in my dream. Sunny. Warm. Cheering.
I am in the meadow; our meadow. Sitting, listening. Listening to the water.
By the meadow runs a brook. A wonderful, babbling brook. John says that
sometimes I babble. Babble, babble, babble.
Fish play in the brook. Jumping for mayflies in the afternoon sun. The children
love to watch the jumping fish. They say they are like silver, darting water
faeries reaching for the stars.
I look over and see the children. Their backs are to me but I know it is them.
David and Sarah. My children. My babies.
They are watching the fish. The splashing, jumping fish.
I get up to go to them. My children. My babies.
David is seven and handsome like his father. Sarah is five with beautiful,
golden hair.
My feet swish in the long, green grass as I go to them.
“Get away”, I hear behind me.
I turn and look. It is John, in the distance, on his horse.
He is waving frantically.
“Get away”, he shouts again.
But why should I be afeared. Afeared of my children. My babies.
I go to them.
The fish jump higher, splashing, as I come to David and Sarah.
I go to hug them, cuddle them, smother them.
And they turn to me. But it is not them.
They have no faces, no eyes, no mouths, no noses. Where God had set their
wondrous features there is nothing. Nothing but pale, white skin fixed over
mouths that will never laugh nor sing, over eyes that will never see the silver,
darting water faeries, over nostrils that will never smell the deep, heady
Their hands reach for me. They claw at me with rough, ragged fingernails. I
turn. I fall. Into the brook. Into the cold, cold water.
I wake.
The children are gone.
I am wet. I hear water dripping.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I feel water all around me. Around my feet.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
I stand up. Quickly.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The water is at my ankles. I look up. Water drips down the shaft. Down the
mocking, slimy stones of the shaft.
High above the shaft opens. Light comes down from the heavens. And then I see a
shape, that shape, his shape. Silhouetted. It is him. The man. The bringer. The

I hold my hands out. For food.
He spits at me. He always does.
“Why? Why did you do it?”, he shouts.
I am quiet. If I am quiet he will know that I am good. Like a mouse. Like a
church mouse. Like a good, quiet church mouse.
I smile.
“Do not mock me. Why did you do it?”
I stay quiet.
“Why won’t you tell me? Why?”, his voice cracks slightly.
I wish I knew. I really do. I wish I had the answers to all his questions. But I
do not. I never do. So I must stay quiet; like a mouse.
“For God’s sake. They were only babies. They were our babies.”  I hear the tears
in his voice. There always are.
“I need to know why. I just need to know why.”
I wait for the food that always comes. He always brings food.
But this time he doesn’t. This time he is pulled aside. By another. I do not
know this other.
The other speaks.
“Heather Ruskin, wife of John, mother to David and Sarah. Four and twenty days
you have lain here and in that time you have shown no remorse. You have proven
yourself evil beyond all reasonable doubt; beyond all redemption. As such the
elders have decided your fate shall be as that of your children.”
My children. What fate? My children are safe. They sleep.
“You shall die starved of the air where you lie. May the Lord have mercy on your
The other steps back.
The shaft shuts and the light is gone.
I listen. I hear him, the bringer, in the distance. Muffled.
“No don’t. Don’t. I need to know why. She must tell me why. She must. I have to
Then he is drowned out. By the water. The gushing, running water. Cascading down
the shaft.
I feel the water rising to my knees. But this is not my worry.
My children. What have they done to my children?
The water is to my breast. The bricks still stare. Knowingly. Mocking me.
I scratch at the bricks. Raking my fingers against them. Stabbing at them.
I scream.
David. Sarah.
Screaming. They wouldn’t stop screaming.
The water is at my neck. I crane upwards; keeping my face clear of the water.
And still they screamed. My babies.
The water is above my head. I kick upwards to breathe.
A pillow. Why did I have a pillow?
David sleeps now. He is two and one day will be handsome like his father.
I swallow water. My chest is burning. I didn’t know water could burn.
Sarah sleeps too. She is barely six months. She has beautiful, golden curls.
My sight is dimming. I try to breathe. I cannot.
They are both quiet now. My babies. In their cots. Like mice. Like church mice.
Like good, quiet church mice.
There are tulips on their windowsill.
I sleep.


Phil Ambler is an amateur writer from the south east of
England dipping his toes in the murky world of the macabre. All feedback

1 comment:

  1. Jesus Phil, but this is powerful. I love how you leave it open. We know the mother's sanity has escaped her but what has caused her to kill the children in the first place? The interference by the Elders of the Church?

    Tragic and desperate, and very well written. Congratulations.