Awake at first rooster crow, get dress, grab the bucket in the fireplace, and fetch water in the family well – this has been her routine for the past year, ever since she dropped out of school to run her family farm full time.
The trek to the family well can be treacherous. The mile hike involves trekking though a section of the family land that hasn’t been upkept in a year, ever since her father had fallen ill. Without the upkeep, that section easily overran by tall weeds, tree saplings and branches, and brambles. One misstep and the consequences can be dire. The only easy part of the trek is the last few hundred yards which has been laid out with stone from generations before.
Once at the well, which shapes like a gray pyramid, she must get down on her hands and knees and crawl into the tiny entrance to enter the surprisingly roomy cavern with a hole.
One morning, as she exited the well with her bucket of water, she heard a rustle. Immediately, she’s on high alert. Though she has encountered a stray deer or two in these woods, she can usually differentiate the sounds. This is no deer, she told herself. It sounds like something on two feet, not four. Immediately, she crawled back into the well.
“Jane, honey, is that you?” A female voice called. She let out a breath of relief.
“Ma?” She crawled out. “What are you doing here? You and pa are supposed to be asleep.”
“Oh honey, come here,” her mother held out her arms. “Your pa may be ill but we are managing the farm all right. I know I don’t tell you enough. We appreciate your help around the farm this last year but your pa and I feel it’s high time you return to school and finish that education of yours.”
“No buts.” Her mother shook her head. “It’s not your job to take care of us. It’s our job to take care of you and I’m telling you you’ve done a fine job and you can return to your life now.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been so sure in my life.”
Well – Image by KL Caley