“Secrets can kill.” I said as we stare down into the dark pit below us.
I feel my skin crawl. It doesn’t want to go down there. I should listen to my body and it’s warnings but I know that there is nowhere safe left to go. I try to tell myself that Descending into the Well of Secrets is only a change in degree of danger we’re all in, but my stomach still churns in protest.
Jasper pulls out his rope, fumbling a little. I reach out and rest my hand on his. He pauses and looks at me. Shadows fall over his eyes but I see his jaws flex. I’m thankful I’m not the only one struggling to find the strength to do the unthinkable. Maya crouches down to join our emotional struggle. Moonlight reflects off the beads of sweat that form across her forehead. On closer examination, she looks like she’s about to vomit. Maya’s ebony skin is ashy. I pull out my flagon of water and order her to drink.
She silently obeys. Her hood falls back revealing her long braids woven with the golden tokens given to her by her family to mark each of her brave deeds. I pray she does not lose them for breaking one of the most sacred trusts of our peoples. She wipes her lips on her arm and hands the water back, nodding.
“Thank you Tilla.” Maya closes her eyes. “Everyone is gone. It is foolish for us to wait a single moment.”
Jasper jumps at this and unwinds his rope in his usual efficient manner. I breathe for the first time tonight. She is right. We made our decision. There is no going back. To enter the Well of Secrets is a less evil than to do nothing. We must know. We’ve had many conversations over and over for the last week. We are in agreement, except for our human flesh that pulls and twists inside us.
Jasper hammers the post between the seams of two rocks then bows to the spire that marks the location of the well to guide the pilgrims. Maya and I turn and bow as well, a small concession before we dive in and sift through centuries of forgotten secrets.
“If there was any other way, we would have taken it.” I direct my voice to the peak of the spire where closed eyes are etched into the stone. “We wish no disrespect only the safety of our peoples. Let this violation be forgotten with all the secrets that have disappeared into this well.”
Maya nods as she checks her torches and flint. It will be dark down there. Secrets only live in the dark after all.
“This is you’re idea Tilla, you should go first.” Jasper’s dark eyes catch a glimmer of moonlight. The fact that he does not volunteer to go first marks the severity of our act. I nod in resignation.
“You are right.” A chill runs through my body, all my previous words stab my heart. “It was my idea. You are following me.”
“We chose to follow.” Maya adds raising her head to the closed eyes.
Jasper looks hard into my eyes.
“Yes, we decided.”
I grab the rope and backed to the edge. As I begin my descent, my once enemies stand over me waiting to take their turn into damnation.
Word Prompt: Secrets
Photo Credit: Stefano Corso