The Well -- flash by Zoe Zimmerman
Spencer was born in the farmhouse on the hottest day of summer. When he was six years old, his Old Man sat him down and told him, “Don’t go into the woods by the Miller’s. There’s an old well back there with evil water and evil things.” Spencer didn’t know what evil things he was talking about, but he didn’t ask, because his Old Man had a hard face and harder knuckles.
When Spencer was as tall as the mailbox, his Old Man had a heart attack in the barn and died. His Ma buried him by the dogwood tree. When he was as tall as the corn in the field, his Ma stopped eating and drinking and dried up like the desert.
He painted the walls of the kitchen blue. When that paint started to peel, he went over it with sunflower yellow.
Spencer grew the same crops his Old Man had and raised the same cattle. His first wife told him he needed to do something different, so he found a second one. The second one didn’t like him as much. She wanted kids, but he didn’t, and then one morning he woke up to a crumpled letter left on her pillow.
Spencer bought a cane that he was too tired to paint blue or sunflower yellow. He sat on the porch and watched the seasons change from muddy brown to pink as flesh. When his eyesight started to go, he went to the hardware store up the road and bought a hefty pickaxe to knock down the well. The priest brought him holy water from the church basin to cleanse the soil.
He walked into the woods by the Miller’s in the purpling dusk and found that there wasn’t a well at all, just a clearing of yellow sunflowers and an old man who could barely see them.
Zoe Zimmerman is a seventeen-year-old queer and neurodivergent emerging writer from Blacksburg, Virginia who wears words like birthmarks and has perpetually dirt-lined fingernails. Graduate of the All Write Workshop at Virginia Tech, the Writopia Lab in NYC, and the Big Smoke Writing Factory in Dublin, Ireland.