Unsaved by the Bell
Every day for weeks we would go there. At first right there, with flowers and a cloth, to clean the stone. Then, from a distance, just staring at the bell, willing it to move. Then, just pausing, peering through the distance from the street, while on a detour, to or from the market.
Ring, we’d beg it, with our eyes. With our wills.
Then leaves fell around it, and we’d visit to shuffle them away with our feet very casually, hands deep in coat pockets, not yet cold enough for gloves.
As the first bits of rust formed on its little curve, ring, we would think. Move, the silent command.
And as snow lay across it and ice formed down the string, we shivered and prayed, for a sound, even just a mystery in our head.
By the time the grass again began to grow, and the thread had long since been consumed by the ground, someone…perhaps the caretaker?…someone had charitably removed the reminder.
Removed the reminder that all hope was lost. That all the stories told from that mouth, all the laughter blasted from those lungs, all the warmth under those arms, all the thoughts behind those eyes…they were all only ever to live in our memories.
Saved by the Bell: Before modern medicine, it was hard to determine if a person was really dead or simply in a really, really deep sleep. As a precaution, the presumed dead were buried with a string that ran from the corpse’s finger to a bell. If there was a mistake, the person could twitch the finger and thus be saved from being buried alive.