They've promised that dreams can come true
but forgot to mention that nightmares are dreams, too
The little girl lay awake in bed staring up at the moon through the open windows. It was full and bigger than she'd ever seen it before.
Red like a lollipop.
She wondered if the moon was made of candy. She would like a moon made of candy. The Sisters only gave them candy on Christmas and Easter and even then, they were never allowed to finish it unless she had hid it under her tongue.
One of the other boys at the orphanage told her there was a man in the moon and that when he cried, his tears turned into candy.
I'm not a liar, the boy had insisted, I read it in a book!
And the little girl believed him.
She sat up in her bed and peered out the window into the garden looking for pieces of fallen candy. But, she didn't see any. No lemondrops or orange fizzies or jawbreakers. Her heart fell.
The old wishing well sat in the corner, covered in lilacs and dragonsnaps. The candy could have fallen into the well. The soft creak of the empty swing set brought her attention to the far end of the garden. A small red ball lay forgotten in the wet grass. For a moment, something in the corner of her eye glinted. The little girl felt her heart beat faster as she turned to look back at the well.
A soft splash came from inside. Very much like the sound of candy dropping in water. They fell in the well! The little girl wanted to go outside and see but she was much too afraid to go out by herself.
Her brother slept beside her still unaware that there was candy falling from the sky.
"Jaime!" The little girl shook her brother "Wake up, you have to come and see this!" His eyes opened in slits, his brow furrowing as the moonlight fell across his face.
"Go away, Maria," Jaime whined and turned away from his sister.
"Come on, Jaime!" The little girl got up out of bed. "Don't you wanna eat some candy?"
"What are you doing? You'll get us in trouble!"
"Don't be a scaredy-cat, Jaime," The little girl taunted her brother.
"I'm not a scaredy-cat!" Jaime pushed the covers off his body and sat up glaring at her.
"Scaredy-cat, scaredy-cat, Jaime has a weak heart!" The little girl whispered as she sung gleefully.
She knew he hated it when she called him weak-hearted. She'd heard the doctor say it when he had come to visit Jaime at the orphanage once. He'd told Sister Kate that Jaime had a weak heart and that he wouldn't be able to run around like all the other kids at the orphanage.
"I don't have a weak heart!"
"Prove it!" She said with her hands on her hips.
Jaime slid out of bed, put his slippers on and walked towards the bedroom door. When he reached for the handle, he turned around towards her.
"Now, who's the scaredy-cat?" He grinned at her. The little girl giggled. There was the Jaime she knew.
The first thing she did when they reached the garden was check the well. She'd told Jaime about the candy but he'd only laughed at her and gone off to play on the swings. He wouldn't be laughing at her when she'd brought back pockets full of lollipops and suckers.
The Sisters had never let anyone near the well. They said it was dangerous and that if you weren't careful you could fall in and drown. Antony, one of the older boys still living at the orphanage, said that the well was haunted. He'd said a little boy had drowned there back before the orphanage had been built and that his body was still there under the water, waiting to grab anyone who looked down inside.
The little girl wasn't stupid. She didn't believe in faeries or ghosts. In fact, she'd been the only one brave enough to look down into the well on a dare and she'd never seen anything but her own face staring back up at her in the water.
But, in the moonlight, the garden was a different place and the well was very very dark.
"Hello?" She said. Her voice echoed off the stone walls and she could see her tiny face swimming around on the surface of the black water.
Two hands grabbed the side of her arms. "Watch out!" The voice was low and gruff. The little girl screamed.
Jaime laughed, letting go of his sister. "That's what you get,"
The little girl started to cry.
"What's all this ruckus?" A voice came from behind the little girl. The little girl looked up at her brother, thinking he was the one that had spoken but it wasn't him. He was looking at something just behind her, something that had come from the well.
Slowly, the little girl turned around. A beautiful young man sat perched on the edge of the well, with one leg dangling down the side and the other pulled up against his chest.
Jaime grabbed his sister's hand and tugged her back.
"Who are you?" Jaime asked him.
The young man smiled, his teeth glinting in the moonlight. For a moment, the little girl swore that his pale eyes had flashed red.
"Who am I?" The man asked, resting his wrist on his knee. "Who are you?"
"You're not supposed to be here," Jaime said his grip tightening. The little girl watched her brother. She was confused. Didn't Jaime know who he was? It was obvious, wasn't it?
"It's a little late for you to be outside," The young man said. He rolled his eyes lazily and fixed Jaime with an expression she'd only seen on Sister Kate when she was unimpressed.
"Are you the little boy who fell in the well?" The little girl asked the young man. She freed her hand from her brother's grip and stepped forward. The young man's eyes snapped to hers and his face smoothed. His body twisted towards her and he bowed his head.
"You must be Maria," The young man's voice was low and pleasant as if he were greeting a queen.
"Don't talk to him, Maria!" Jaime tugged his sister's sleeve but the little girl ignored him. She was must to curious.
"How do you know my name?" She asked him wanting to take a few more steps closer.
"You were the only one brave enough to look into my well," The young man gestured behind him. Gracefully, he slid down off the stone wall and landed on the grass. When he stood up, he towered over her. "I was so very lonely," The young man reached out his hand and brushed the little girl's hair away from her face. The little girl closed her eyes. His touch was as light as a feather and his finger ghosted across her cheek. Her mother used to touch her like that, soft and loving but that had been a long time ago.
"Don't touch my sister," Jaime slapped the young man's hands away and pushed his sister away back towards the building. "Come on, Maria, let's go back inside,"
Secretly, the little girl didn't want to go. She'd come for candy and she hadn't gotten the chance to ask the man if he'd seen any candy.
"Wait!" The little girl shrugged her brother off and looked back towards the young man. "Did you see the man in the moon crying candy? I heard it fall in the well,"
The young man smiled again. From behind his back he pulled out a bright red lollipop.
"You mean this?" He said holding it out for her to see. The little girl's face lit up.
"I told you there was candy in the well," She sneered and she walked back towards the well. "Do you have one for my brother?" She asked the young man. Her brother begged her to come back but she ignored him.
"Your brother doesn't seem to like sweets, does he?" The young man told her when she reached him. He took her hand in his and she shuddered. It was ice cold. "Tell him I have something else for him," The little girl nodded and told her brother. Jaime hesitated but when she insisted, he gave in and joined his sister in front of the well.
"I have something else you might be interested in, little prince," The young man said when Jaime stood beside his sister.
The man held his hand out as if he were weighing something. Then, his palm began to glow.
At first, it glowed a dark purple with wisps of black and then it grew brighter until his hand was engulfed in bright blue flames. Inside the flames, something was beating. It was red like the moon, like the color of the young man's eyes now. Jaime and his sister watched, fascinated.
"What is that?" The little girl scrunched her nose.
The young man opened his mouth to reply but it was Jaime who spoke. "It's a heart," he breathed.
"It's a strong heart," The young man corrected the little girl's brother.
"Whose is it?" The little girl asked.
"It once belonged to a little prince, one who was just like your brother. Only, this prince was strong. He could swing a sword and command legions."
"What happened to him?" Jaime breathed.
The little girl had never seen her brother like this. She'd never seen him so interested in anything other than the books he liked to read. It scared her. The more she watched the heart beat in the young man's hands, the more she felt sick.
"He died," The young man answered simply.
Jaime grew quiet. All they could hear was the sound of the willow leaves as the soft summer wind swept through the garden. The red moon overhead grew darker.
Now, it was the little girl who wanted to go back. All she had wanted was candy. But Jaime was no longer interested in going back inside.
"It can be your heart, Jaime," The young man held his hand out, offering her brother the heart. "All you need to do is come with me, you and your sister," His voice was hypnotic and metallic. Jaime took a step forward but his sister stopped him.
"Jaime lets go back, please," The little girl begged.
"Come, Jaime," The young man held his hand out. His eyes were glowing in the darkness and under the crimson hue of the moon, two dark flaps fanned out behind him. They were wings. Bat wings. The little girl stumbled backwards and slipped on a rock. Jaime didn't seem to notice. The young man embraced Jaime and slowly, pressed the heart into Jaime's chest.
A terrible cold wind suddenly whipped around them. The trees cracked and shivered, the flowers bent and broke, the swings twirled and twisted. The little girl closed her eyes and screamed.
She didn't know how long she screamed but as sudden as the wind had begun it stopped.
Slowly, she opened her eyes.
She was alone.
There was no Jaime. No young man.
A soft splash came from the well.
The little girl stood up. "Jaime?" She called out. There was no answer. She edged closer to the well and peered over the stones to look down inside. "Hello?" She called into the dark abyss.
There was something down there.
A rock. No, it was a lump.
The clouds shifted and the red moonlight filled the inside of the well.
It wasn't a rock or a lump. It was a body. The head was bent at an odd angle and as it rolled over the little girl could see his face. The eyes were covered in a thin, milky film, vacant and lifeless.
It was Jaime.