“Listen to me, or I’ll drown you in the well just like last time.”
It’s a whisper he hears every night around midnight. He doesn’t know where the voice comes from or if he’s only imagining it. What he does know is that if he falls asleep right away without ‘listening’, he wakes up in the morning with his hair soaking wet.
There’s no well on his parents’ property. He checked after the first few times this happened to him and found nothing. There’s not even a stream. Water comes from the hand pump, but he doesn’t know where it originates from. Somewhere deep underground, he thinks. Somewhere he can’t get to.
If the well is down there, that might be where the voice comes from, too, and that scares him. That scares him a lot. After his parents tuck him into bed, he pulls out the needle he hides beneath his pillow. He pricks himself with it to keep himself awake.
Because the message he needs to listen to only comes in the darkest hours of the night when he’s sleepiest. When his eyes burn with tiredness. Poking himself keeps him awake while funny words he doesn’t understand tickle his inner ears. Then, only after the sun comes up, can he fall asleep. Otherwise he’s taken to the well.
He doesn’t know how long this will go on for. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to understand. Whatever it is that happens to him when he’s taken to the well is a mystery, but he guesses that it’s bad.
So he keeps poking himself. He continues praying that his tormentor will finally be satisfied. He hopes he’s never taken to the well while he’s awake.