The Afternoon Walk of Lydia Benson

Lydia Benson, eight years old, was doing something she shouldn’t have been. She was in the field behind her old country home, past the well mowed grass directly behind the house, walking through the tall weeds of summer, the afternoon sun beating down on her relentlessly. She wasn’t supposed to be out of the house on her own, not since the day of the bicycle accident. The whole family missed her little brother, maybe her mother most of all, who since that day had fallen into bouts of dark depression, today being one of those days. She’d had a couple of pills, maybe one too many and was now asleep on the couch, allowing Lydia to pursue her favorite hobby, exploring. She had laced up her sneakers with ease and slid the glass door open without a sound. It was too easy.

She walked and walked, spotting an ugly bird overhead that barely glanced down at the sight of the little girl. She was too alive for the buzzard’s liking. She followed a lone squirrel further away from her house and into the dense forest that she had never explored before, feeling an even mix of both excitement at terror at the great unknown. Pine needles crunched beneath her feet as she wandered deeper and deeper into the woods, further and further from the mother who didn’t realize she was gone. A clearing appeared before her, a stone laid well in the center of the peculiarly trimmed grass. She approached with cautious unease and paused briefly before the four foot structure in front of her, before nudging the wooden cover to the side and exposing the dark hole that disappeared into the earth.

Ever the curious child, it was imperative to find out what was inside; a quick look wouldn’t hurt. Lydia Benson peered over the edge, her gaze met by the darkness of the unknown depth below. She leaned in further, curiosity getting the best of her and as quickly as her brother had been hit by that car, she tumbled over the edge of the well and was swallowed whole by the earth. Several feet of murky water stood at the bottom of the well, not that she could feel it. If she hadn’t bumped her head on the way down and had been conscious she would have undoubtedly been terrified at the situation that she was in, but Lydia was far away from the darkness, her mind in an unconscious paradise where she saw her little brother for the first time in three months. The police found her later that evening just before sunset when her father arrived home from work, realized she was missing, and in a panic called for help. Her mother wasn’t charged with negligence and sent to jail, but for the remainder of her life, was trapped in the dark prison of her mind, until she couldn’t take the painful guilt anymore and swallowed the entire bottle of pills a week later. Lydia Benson really shouldn’t have wandered out of the house on her own. She knew better.

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