by NG YIN LUN
The tall towering trees of the coniferous forest stood firm and stared down over little Jack and Jill. Slowly progressing up the slope of the hill, they were running as fast as they could with their legs to get to the top.
“I’m going to reach it first!” exclaimed Jack.
“No, I’M going to reach the well first!” protested Jill.
Jack and Jill have always competed, finding any opportunity to one-up the other. Remember that time when Jack finished his second bowl of soup while Jill was still on her first? Or that time when Jill drew the picture deemed prettier by Father? This time, they both were trying their best to reach the well first, but Jill had already acknowledged that this was a losing game for her. Jack had always been better in physical activities. However, they both also knew that this time, it was not about who between them would lose – but about losing Father.
Father was ill, but not severely. It was only a fever. In the eyes of the two children, however, an ill father meant the absence of an adult to take care of them. They would climb the hill to reach the well that was supposedly a source of healing water – at least, according to the tales Father had told them.
As Jack reached the top of the hill, he shouted with joy.
“That’s 12 to 11, Jill! I broke the tie!”
“Alright, you win. I’ll admit it.”
The elation of Jack’s triumph fell short as their deep concern for Father crawled up behind them from the forest. Jack and Jill slowly gestured towards the mouth of the stone well and they stared down into the darkness.
“So somewhere down there is the healing water?” asked Jack.
“Of course it is. Are you questioning Father?” retorted Jill.
“Never! Why would I? Now since I won, you just stand back and watch me get the water.”
Jack pulled onto the rope and hauled up the heavy bucket of water. This was nothing to him, not only because he was physically more fit, but also as it was Father, he was inclined to give it all he had. Jack then passed the bucket to Jill as he tried to untie the rope.
Jill, with one push, took advantage of the fact that Jack was near the mouth of the well. Sounds of cracking could be heard as Jack tumbled down to the bottom. Jill concluded that a few of his bones were probably broken.
“Now we’re even,” Jill whispered down the well.
Jill happily skipped down the slope of the hill with the bucket of healing water and made her way back to her wood cottage. She greeted Father cheerfully.
“Father, I’m back! I got you the healing water!”