The Ringing Bells

Pat sat distracted. He often drifted off and got caught up in a daydream or remembrance of a conversation that happened hours to months ago. When that happened his face would fix into something near in description to an angry solemn look. Perhaps a person could confuse it for a resting bitch face but it was actually less intense than that look. People often left him alone because of that.

Either way, Pat was content with the solitude.

Today Pat found himself listening to the various chiming and ringing in his ears. Somewhere between a constant ring of a school bell to the vibration on the C string struck while depressing the pedal to make it more of a sharp. Today both ears were at war with the other.

It always amazed him how he could still pass a hearing test being so fucked up.

She had taken shelter from the raging storm inside one of the many large oaks in the wildering woods. The softer wood of the core having rotted away generations ago leaving space inside for perhaps six or more stout individuals and a pony. It only lacked a decent floor and a chimney to become liveable she thought.

“She!” a loud voice spoke out in the darkness of the tree hollow. “Our name is Alice, and not she! I’ve but one body, one life, and one voice.”

Surprisingly nothing replied back. It was the first time that there was not even an echo of sound from inside her brain or from outside in the world. Startled by the silence Alice sat quietly waiting for some invisible shoe to drop or a prophetic vision to sweep her mind clear.

Nothing happened. Perhaps all that was needed was a good night’s sleep. After a bit more listen to the dark Alice felt sure that the nights rest had cured her of whatever it was. Alice knew that the journey back home was going to be a difficult one. There were chores left undone, explanations to be made, and even the chance of some sort of witchhunt if no one accepted a less than honest account of sleepwalking or a lie about simply getting lost looking to empty the chamber pot. It was something she did not look forward to.

The soft sweet smell of strawberry slowly drifted in from outside her little den. Alice’s hungry stomach churned in it’s own juices as saliva began to form on a once dry tongue. Whatever it took, Alice knew in the end she was going to have some. With slow determination she edged her way across the tree to the opening the smell came trickling from. The brightness of the outside was near blinding but Alice could make out oddly uniform shapes lining what looked to be shelving. A vast room of books with a strange old man hobbling about what appeared to be a writing desk. He seemed extremely excited and fully energetic for being such an old individual. In his hands he held what appeared to be some baked goods frosted with a pinkish glaze, and dripping what looked like sprinkles and jam. Both the man’s beard, hands, and floor were covered in spots where he had been less than agile in devouring the food. The whole scene only deepened Alice’s hunger.

And that’s when it happened…

Slowly the outside noises of the world would intrude: the chirping of the birds, the repeated shouting of his name, the constant ringing of a cellphone, or the soul shattering alarm Pat set to remind him of important things to be done.

Today it was the single ring of a door bell. They were more like chimes but the hollow ding was close enough to the required tone to pass as a bell. Pat slowly walked around the house. He had found himself outside in the garden when his mind cleared. The garden was small, but pleasing to look at and enjoy.

At the front porch Pat found no one waiting. A package left by some errant delivery service sat snug against the door.

The name on the mailing sticker was addressed from Alice. Pat smiled at the name. Like so many things he had seen and learned in life, that name always rang a bell and a pleasant memory.

The old librarian paced excitedly about his writing desk. The days were few and far between that such a reward was ever granted. He had been given permission to buy some donuts. Not just any donuts though! Krispy Kreme donuts, strawberry glazed with sprinkles, and stuffed with jam if he wished. Though he had to use his own money, do all the leg work, and make up anytime he missed from doing his writing, the sage felt it called for celebrating. He was so jolly that he was positive in the fact he had forgotten something. Perhaps it was the change from the twenty, or the lactate free whole milk he loved to drink now that he was “old”. What the hell, he’d figure it out later.

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