Warm up II

Jack bowed over as he worked his way up the hillside. His feet scrabbled in the dirt: dry and crumbling away under his shoes.

"Jack!"

He glanced over his shoulder to see a girl stumbling around near the hill face. She tottered and scrambled up on hands and knees.

Jack frowned, calling, "You shouldn’t’ve come," to the wild waving pigtails below. No answer, but the girl made a face at him before glaring down at the grass again.

The grey-black sky, a twisted throwback to the great Romantic artists, churned as Jack stood beside the well. The rotten pail clattered against the well’s stone sides, chuckling, and the sound was carried away in the wind.

He pulled the girl to her feet.

"I had to come," Jill pouted, grubby hands on hips. "You can’t go sneakin’ outta the house at midnight without me. For all I know you’re gonna have some kinda adventure or somethin’ and I’ll jus be sittin’ around at home doin’ nuthin’!" The wind plucked at the siblings and Jill wobbled. Jack pinched her shoulders and they rounded the well to a calmer area.

Jill sniffed, "What’re you doin’ up here, anyway?"

Jack dug in his jacket pocket and leaned in close. "I found this old bone – look! – an’ I heard there’s a curse, so I’ve gotta throw it in the well ta save everyone." He stuck his chin out proudly, clenching the yellowed shard in a tiny fist.

Jill nodded in solemn responsibility, grinned, and leaned her head down the well. She called down and the high voice warped in its echo. She giggled at the deep sound of it. Jack rolled his eyes and reached in his pocket again. He blanched. He fell to his knees and skittered around the base of the well, tugging up clumps of dirt and grass that wafted away in the wind.

The sky splintered – a glowing fissure that left the world breathless. In the thunder, Jill squeaked and stumbled back into her brother. The boy yelped and rolled.

And Jill came tumbling after.

The End

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