… I visited her in a dream.
Heart pounding from exertion, she emerged from a dark wood and sat on a large rock to catch her breath. A line of sweat crowned her head, drips falling, sticking stray hairs to her cheeks and forehead. She pushed them back. A dry thirst coated her mouth and throat. In the open air a light breeze offered to cool her, and she closed her eyes, receiving the gift. A few minutes passed. Her heart slower, her breathing even, she looked up and surveyed what lie ahead.
The sunless, early morning granted enough light for her to see a meadow. Dotted with warm, yellow buttercups and white daisies, it bid her come and rest a while. From across the meadow she heard a song sparrow echo the invitation, and followed its welcome.
An old well appeared in front of her. Dirt and dust formed in the mortar around the stones where it cracked and crumbled. She swallowed and a spark of hope rose in her chest. Peering under the weather-worn, wood roof she looked for a bucket. Her shoulders slumped when all she found were spider webs and a dry, mud-packed, abandoned bird’s nest. She slunk to the ground. As she leaned against the well wall small pieces of mortar loosened and fell beside her.
Lifting her head, she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. She got up to investigate. A bucket lay on its side in a tuft of knee-high grass. Hope renewed, she quickened, picked it up, and brushed away the dirt. It was made of wood and held together with a metal band, and she concluded that, in spite of its cracks, it would hold water. She hurried back to the well. Leaning over, she felt the coolness from the water below. A loosened pebble fell from where her hand knocked it. Plunk.
Bucket in hand, she readied to plunge it to the watery depths. Then stopped herself as realization hit, and hope fell to the dust at her feet. She dropped the bucket. Sitting down she hugged her legs to her chest.
With her head resting on her knees she did not notice the sun begin to peak a smile through the top branches of the trees. Nor did she see me approach. I looked much the same as I did when I visited her in the crib so many years ago. The breeze danced with the folds of fabric draped around me, iridescent rainbows sparkled with the rising sun.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, my voice soft and inviting.
Her body startled and she gave a small gasp. She looked at me and furrowed her brow. Then shrugged her shoulders, sighed, and looked at the ground.
“I’m so tired and so thirsty,” she moaned. “A treasure of cool water waits for me.” She leaned her head against the well wall and looked up at me. “I have a bucket” she continued, motioning to it, “and I still can’t get any water.” She shook her head. I could see the trails of tears left on her cheeks.
“What do you need?” I asked.
“A rope,” she closed her eyes. “If I just had a rope, I could lower the bucket and get what I need,” the sorrow and hopelessness in her voice sounded like the lament of a mourning dove.
“Would this work?” I held a silvery strand out to her.
Her eyes sparked and she gave a quick inhale. “Oh, yes,” she reached out her hand. “Could I use it?”
“Of course,” I said, giving it to her.
Taking it from me, she got up and tied one end to the bucket handle, adding one, two, three knots, pulling each one tight. The other end she looped around her hand several times. She stood and dropped the bucket down the well.
A faint morning light shone through the blinds of her bedroom windows. Her heart beckoned her to get up, even though it was early. She walked to the kitchen and made coffee in the almost dark. Taking her journal and pen, and with coffee mug in hand, she went outside and sat on the deck swing. A small fountain gurgled, the trellis around it displayed tiny, butter-yellow roses. The sun started to rise, peaking through the lower branches of the maple trees in her backyard. A song sparrow flew in, landing on the top of the trellis and sang a good morning.
She closed her eyes and breathed in, filling her lungs with the fresh morning air. She sat still and quiet for a moment.
She opened her journal. The blank page reached out its inviting hand.
She lifted the thin, silver ribbon that marked her place, and put silver pen to page.
Her treasure of words rose from the deep well within her, and she began to pour out, in ink, her story of hope and healing.