The challenge prompt that inspired this story was, “Write a paragraph or two with vivid descriptions and leave me hanging and dying to find out what happens next. Maximum 250 words.”
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There was a local legend about the well in the garden, but Miranda didn’t know what it was. Sometimes at her new school she would round a corner and kids would abruptly stop talking, watching her with something like pity. It was almost easy to forget it was there, tucked in the backyard amidst overgrown rosemary bushes and scraggly olive trees, and she never noticed anything strange about it.
Until one spring afternoon. Taking her usual route home from school through the back gate, she was walking along the part of the dirt path that swung closest to the well when the hairs on the back of her neck prickled. Her eyes darted towards the well… and jerked to a stop when she saw a figure sitting on the stone edge.
The stranger was tall, with a wide-brimmed hat that shadowed his face. His arms were crossed loosely over his chest, his posture relaxed but poised as though merely pausing for a moment.
He was completely still. Even the breeze that ruffled Miranda’s curls didn’t seem to touch him.
Miranda sank out of sight behind a bush. Her heart pounded in her ears as she crouched, silently gulped the rosemary-laden air. Everything in her screamed run, now, and she numbly shrugged her backpack off to lose extra weight. Then she peeked over the bushes.
The stranger met her eyes and in an instant that seemed to go on and on, his features slowly, slowly stretched into a wide grin.