Jack whistled as he wandered along a winding dirt road. A bulging sack hung from his shoulders, bouncing against his back in time with his lively steps. The day was bright and clear, and the early-summer day was warm. He closed his eyes and smiled, basking as the sunlight shone on his face.
The road wound up around a steep hill. Jack followed it, watching as the surrounding countryside unfolded around him. Tall golden grass swayed in the breeze, stretching to the horizon like a vast ocean. There were no trees or rocks, only the grass that rustled like whispers on the wind.
At the top, the hill leveled into a plateau. The earth was hard and worn, packed down by generations of feet that had long since passed. A couple of tumbledown shacks remained, the only vestiges that had survived the encroachment of thorns and brush. Except for the well.
Jack walked to it and leaned over the crumbling stones to peer down into the dark depths. He whistled down into the darkness, and the sharp tune was cast back at him in a series of chirruping echoes. As the sound wavered around him, Jack thought he heard a girl laughing, and the indistinct murmur of many voices. He looked around, but all he saw was a few worn and dilapidated walls, and the barren weeds that threatened to overtake them.
He knelt to the ground as he shrugged the sack off of his shoulders. He untied the strings that laced the bag shut and, putting his hand into it, pulled out a fistful of acorns. Their hard, smooth surfaces gleamed in the light, like burnished copper or polished wood. An acorn tumbled from his hand and rolled into the weeds. Jack left it there, and threw the rest of the acorns down into the well.
He waited as he listened to the silence. Then, a moment later, a few faint plinks echoed from the darkness. He smiled, closed his bag and got to his feet. Jack looked down at the surrounding valley, imagining the hills transformed and mottled with shade. Maybe one day he would return.