Chapter One: The Wish
“Just remember to stay quiet, Maybelline.” She whispered to herself. “You’ll be fine.”
Ten-year-old Maybelline was inside the wishing well located in the front of her orphanage, crouching in the shallow, muddy water. It was dark inside the well, but the light from the full moon illuminated the area around of her, if only a little bit. She waited there for what seemed like hours for the proper moment to emerge. The cold evening air entered the well and blew pass her, causing her to shiver. She wrapped her tiny arms around herself to keep warm. “Just a little bit longer, Maybelline.” She remaindered herself.
The hem of her favorite grey trench coat was caked in mud. Her black rubber knee-high boots were wet from the water. The only articles of clothing that were clean and dry were her pink top tank, pink shorts, and bronze-colored cowboy hat. Despite of all the clothing, her porcelain skin was covered in goosebumps. Her long, flowing scarlet hair, that touched her waist and caressed the sides of the face, was getting dirtied by the mud and grime. She looked up at the moon once more; her rare silvery-blue colored eyes shimmered in the moonlight. “Where are they?” She asked impatiently.
The circular well was large, large enough for small children like Maybelline to hide in, and dark enough for her not to be seem, but not too deep that she couldn’t get out. However, the well was also damp and cold. The red bricks that made up the well were old and crumbling. Maybelline dreaded going inside the well. She sometimes feared that the structure of the well would fail and she would be buried in red bricks. Yet, she was there every year, because of a ritual that the other children of her ritual hometown, Cobalt County, took part in. At the end of every year, the children of Cobalt County would gather what little money they had, travel to the wishing well outside of the local orphanage, and toss their silver and bronze coins into the well. It was believed that by doing this that their wishes for the next year would come true.
If Maybelline had a watch, she would be checking it furiously. She was getting tired of crouching in the dark and was growing anxious. She finally sat down in the muddy water, dirtying her trench coat even more, and let her aching legs sprawl out in front of her. She wondered if she had arrived too early or if the other children were running late. Suddenly, she heard the distant sounds of giggling and laughter combined with the sound of footsteps. The footsteps sounded as though it came from a large group of people and not a single person. “Finally, they’re here!” She whispered to herself.
Maybelline was beginning to bounce with excitement, she made sure not to make any noise. The footsteps became increasingly louder, until they stopped in front of the wishing well. From her viewpoint, Maybelline could see the faces of all the little boys and girls from her hometown peering down the well. She could hear their collected laughter and chatter echo down the well. After a while of laughing and chatting, someone said loudly: “Ready everybody?” Maybelline recognized the voice as Justin, a boy from her orphanage who was a year or two older than her.
“I’m ready!” Said a girl, who Maybelline recognized as April, another child of the same age from the orphanage.
“Me too!” Shouted a boy, who Maybelline recognized as Jack, a younger child from the orphanage.
“Me three!” Exclaimed another girl, who Maybelline recognized as Sarah, a child who was the same age as Maybelline and who lived in the house nearest to the orphanage with her parents.
After all the children, which sounded like a dozen, meaning that every other child was present at the well, had announced that they were ready, Justin, who was seemingly leading the group, asked: “What did everyone wished for?”
“I wished for my parent to get rich!” Said Sarah.
“I wished to live in Neon City!” Shouted Jake.
“I wished for Maybelline to leave Cobalt County!” Exclaimed April. April’s words caused all the other children to break out into laughter.
“I shouldn’t wish for that!” Said a boy who Maybelline recognized as Michael from down the lane.
“Yeah, that’s a good wish!” Justin agreed.
After a minute or two of laughing, a girl, who Maybelline recognized as Zoey from the house near the pond, spoke up. “I wished to be famous like Diamond!” Zoey’s words sparked a series of cheers and applaud from the other girls.
“Yeah! I want to be famous too!” Shouted Sarah. “Famous and rich!”
A minute for chatter and gossiping went by before Justin spoke up with: “Ok everybody, get ready to throw in your coins!” With that, the children gathered around the well; they had to push and shove one another to find a spot. When everyone was in position, Justin gave the word and all the children dropped their coins into the well. A shower of silver and bronze rained atop Maybelline and she had to cover her head with her arms to protect herself. When the coins finished raining down on her, Maybelline removed her arms from her head and looked up. She heard the children cheer in happiness, all of them hoping their wishes come true. They all clapped their tiny hands and high-fived each other.
Meanwhile, in the well, Maybelline waited and listened. She heard footsteps again, but this time they were leaving the area. She waited for the footsteps to disappear before standing up and starting the process of pocketing each coin. As she did this, she thought about what April said. She had said that she wished for Maybelline to leave Cobalt County. “Well April,” Maybelline said to herself. “That makes two of us.”
Chapter Two: The Eternal Struggle
With her pockets full of coins and feeling very pleased, Maybelline was ready to leave the wishing well. She reached for the toy grappling gun on her brown toolbelt. Though it was meant to be a mere toy, purchased from a toy store, Maybelline had made some modifications to the grappling gun so that it could function like a real grappling gun. It was a black, rectangular gun with compartment to store thick rope and a trigger to launch the hook that was protruding from the long barrel. She pointed the toy gun toward the sky and shoot. The toy hook elegantly flew and landed on the edge of the well, firmly attaching itself to the stonework.
Once she confirmed that the hook was attached to the edge, she pushed the trigger again and the rope retracted into the gun and the force created began to pull her upward. Maybelline glided against the wall, following the straight line created by the rope, until she reached the exit. She climbed over the wall and onto the grass, the coins jingling in her pockets as she did so. Maybelline looked around, making sure no one had seemed her. As she placed the grappling gun back on her toolbelt, she scanned the trees and brushes that were scattered across the plains. When she was certain that she was lonely, she sauntered her way towards the orphanage’s front doors.
With ample steps, she climbed the steep stairs that lead to the front porch. She approached the front doors and reached for the handles. “Maybelline,” A voice caused her to jump in surprise and fright. The voice sounded firm and authoritative; it wasn’t the kind of voice you heard by a child. She spun around, having her fists up in a fighting stance, but all she saw was the darkness of the night. “Over here.” The voice said again. Maybelline looked to her left and, in the darkness, she saw the silhouette of a person sitting on the porch swing.
“Who’s there?!” She shouted as she reached for the flashlight on her toolbelt. It was the type of flashlight that needed to be shaken to activate it. She gave it a good shake and it flashed a beam of light toward the swing. Sitting there was Justin, his arms folded against his chest. Justin was tall, much taller than Maybelline. He had short black hair and emerald eyes. He was wearing a pure black hoodie, a pair of blue jeans, and a pair of tattered black and white sneakers were on his feet. The look on Justin’s face was one of rage; his eyebrows were knitted and he was wearing a frown.
“Justin!” Said Maybelline. “I thought you left with the others.”
“I told them that I would catch up with them later.” He said. “After I got something.”
“Where are the others then?” She asked.
“At Sarah’s house, watching a movie.” He said matter-of-factly.
“Oh, ok. Well, I have to go see Joey now, so you have fun with that.” She turned away from him, the light from the flashlight moving from Justin’s face to the doors of the orphanage, and went to grip the door handle.
“Hold it.” Justin said, getting up from the porch swing, his hands in the pockets of his pants. Maybelline watched as the older boy walked over to her, the flashlight shining on him the whole time. He stood in front of her, looking down at her with a wrathful expression. “Give them to me.”
Dumbfounded, Maybelline answered back: “Give what to you?”
Justin’s right eye visibly twitched, he was clenching his teeth, and then he struck the wood of one of the doors with his right fist. The sudden and loud sound made the younger girl jump. “CUT THE BULL!” He yelled. He had raise his voice as high that anyone in a five feet radius would hear. Maybelline took a step backward, shock and fear etched into her face. Despite all those years of trying to present herself as fearless, there were certain times when she felt genuinely afraid, many of those times involved Justin. “Give. Them. To. Me.” He ordered her. “Now!”
Maybelline, understanding what Justin was referring to, calmed her nerves, straighten her back, held her head high, and said: “No.”
The young girl’s response clearly surprised Justin. “‘No’?” He repeated. “Do you just say ‘no’ to me?”
“Yes.” Said Maybelline. “I want to keep them.”
Justin barked in laughter. “‘Joey’?” He repeated.
Maybelline frowned “Don’t laugh! Joey is really sick and he needs his medicine and-”
Justin struck the wood of the door beside Maybelline again, yet this time it sounded harder. The sudden noise made her jump again, causing her to go silent. “Listen!” He shouted at her. “I don’t care about you or your sick brother! Give me the money now!”
“What are you going to do if I don’t?” She rebelled.
Justin removed his fist from the door and held it in front of Maybelline’s face. “This.” He said as he shook it. “This is what I will do. Understand?”
With a long and slow exhale, Maybelline placed the flashlight in her mouth, gripping it with her teeth, and fished out the coins with both hands. She pulled out fistfuls of coins and placed them in Justin’s cupped hands. He hurriedly placed the coins into his pockets, the coins jingling as he did so. A few of the coins fell onto the ground and he was quick to pick them up and place them in his pockets. “Is that all of them?” He asked.
She removed the flashlight from her mouth and said: “Yes.”
“Are you telling me the truth?” He asked.
“Yes.” She answered.
“Good.” He said, his hands in his pockets. He turned away from her and started walking down the steps. Once he had reached the last landing, he turned back to face, his hands still in his pockets. “I’m telling everyone that you almost stole from them and that, if it wasn’t for me, you would have gotten away with it.”
Maybelline scoffed. “Sure,” She said in a mocking tone. “Tell them. Tell them and get all of the glory.” She rolled her eyes. “All you care about is attention anyways.”
Justin stomped back up the steps and eyed the younger girl angrier. “When are you gonna realize your place?” He asked sternly. “I’m older, I’m more popular. What are you?” His lips curved into a wicked smile and he chuckled. “You’re nothing. You’re both nothing!” With that, he turned, walked down the steps again, and disappeared into the darkness.
Once she was sure that her was gone, Maybelline slipped a hand into left pocket and pulled a single silver coin. She had lied to Justin; she hasn’t given him all the coins. She had kept one hidden in her pocket. She stared down at the coin and watched as her own tears dripped from her face and landed on it.
Chapter Three: A Story for Joey
Despite her best efforts, the old wooden door still creaked and groaned as she opened it, alerting anyone inside of the room of her present. Inside the room were two small beds. In between the small beds, was a nightstand made from dark wood. Atop the nightstand was a small lamp with a faded and battered lampshade. There was a large window parallel to the beds, facing the front of the building. There was a small circular throw rug of a greenish-brown color. A small, old-fashioned furnace made from black iron sat against the wall opposite to the beds. A small, round, and black wall clock was attached to the wall, over the nightstand.
On the bed closet to the window, was a small boy. His short hair was tannish-brown and his skin was as pale as the moon. He had a blanket made from white wool wrapped around his shoulders. He was wearing a pale blue nightshirt and a pair of night pants of the same color. When he heard the door opening, he turned his head to face it. His silvery-blue eyes lit up when he saw who was at the door and a large smile formed on his face. “Maybelline!”
Maybelline carefully shut the door behind her and ran toward her eight-year-old brother’s side. The two of them embraced one another, Maybelline rubbing her brother’s back through the blanket and Joey nuzzling his face into his older sister’s neck. They pulled back and stared at each other for a moment before Maybelline broke the silence. “How are you feeling, bubby?” She asked.
Joey shrugged. “Ok, I guess. I still feel a little achy and my nose is runny.”
Maybelline frowned and her brow knitted. She used her right hand to cup her brother’s right cheek. She rubbed her thumb against his cold skin on his face. “Poor thing.” She said softly.
Joey smiled as he placed his own hand on top of his sister’s. “I’m be fine.” He reassured her. “What about you? How are you going?”
Maybelline smiled. “You know me!” She said. “Nothing can get me down! Oh, and before I forget…” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver coin. She pushed the coin into her brother’s tiny hands. “For you.”
Joey’s smile grew wider and he threw his arm around Maybelline again. “Thank you! Thank you! I’ll always keep it close!”
“Don’t you want to send it?” She asked. “Or make a wish in the wishing well?”
“No way!” He exclaimed. “This is a present from you! I’ve never do that to anything you give me!” Joey pulled away from his sister and reached into the small pocket of his nightshirt. He pulled out a long, white piece of cord. He then looped the cord through the square hole of the coin and tied the cord around his neck. He smiled as he said: “This will be my most precious treasure!”
It took the entirety of Maybelline’s willpower to stop herself from crying tears of joy. Her brother, Joey, was the purest soul she ever had the pleasure of meeting, and the most important thing in her life. She wrapped her arms around her brother’s neck and embraced him again, tighter this time. He wrapped his own arm around her waist and squeezed her tightly. “Thanks, Maybelline.” Joey had whispered into her ear.
“Anything for you, brother dearest.” She whispered back into his ear.
Eight years ago, their mother had passed away due to childbirth and their father, who was unemployed at the time, was unable to care for them and leave them in the care of the orphanage. Maybelline was only two-years-old at the time. Perhaps his hope was that the orphanage would take better care of them then he could. However, within a year of living in the orphanage, Joey became afflicted with an unknown illness and was told by doctors that he couldn’t leave his room. For his whole life, Joey had been confined to his room, never able to play outside with the other children or feel the fresh air on his skin.
It was when Maybelline was eight-years-old that she realized two things: that Joey was her only family and that he was going to have a difficult life if she didn’t do something about it. So, over the years, she did everything in her powers to help him. While the owner of the orphanage, a twenty-something-year-old woman with long brunette hair and eyes who the children called Miss Scarlet, gave his food and water daily, it was Maybelline who looked after him, the one who played with his, the one who told him stories, and the one who made his laugh when he was feeling sad. Joey was Maybelline’s best friend; her only friend. He was her pride and joy and her reason for living. There was nothing in this world that she wouldn’t do to keep him safe and happy.
“Maybelline?” Joey spoke.
“Yeah, buddy?” She replied.
“Can you tell me a story?”
“Of course I can!” With that, she climbed onto the bed and got underneath the blanket alongside her brother. She wrapped one arm around his shoulder and held him close to her. She cleared her throat. “The tale I am about to tell you is one hundred percent true. It’s a story of action, mystery, and with a hint of danger; it’s a story of brave heroes, great adventures, and villainous monsters. No matter how unbelievable it may sound, no matter how improbable, no matter how unlikely the story may be, you must believe every single word I say. If your attention falters for any reason, if you stop listening even for a second, or if you stop believing in my little tale, then surely terrible things will happen! Are you ready?” Joey nodded his head, a huge smile on his face. “Well then, let continue.”