The Belle

It wasn’t because she couldn’t think of another way to do it

The bell lay there, a crack along the side, mossed over at the base of the crumbling stone tower. The rope that had held it to the church was frayed and dangling forlornly, a connection long rotten away. The woodland around her, the embracing and reclaiming branches that had sprouted from the ruins, were dank with morning dew – heavy – waking in the striking sunlight of early spring.  Inside the bell was a family of field mice, not that she knew that in the beginning. When she struck the sleeping metal beast it clanged monstrously and echoed across the moor. The sound was invigorating, she beat it again. The mice inside scrambled out with no sense of direction or centre of gravity, the little rodents were tripping over their feet. Taking several branches, she tapped the bell lightly across its breast, bringing forth differing tones. All across the craggy Scottish moor, the melody produced pattered and crept like a surreptitious woman.

She wanted to take the bell with her. A piece of history that had fallen into the mud, sunken in and been accepted into the wild. The highlands were swallowing it whole into its very soul. In her cotton dress and fur cloak, she shivered on the hull of the beast, and knocked it with her fists either side. The bell was awakening, it could smell the flesh of the girl; it was being forced to remember the sounds it could make, and the manner in which it once rang across the land, the manner in which it owned the sky above it, and how it swung proudly atop the highest peak. As the girl belted it with all her might, the earth beneath began to reject it.

It began to rain. Not bound by gravity; the droplets are so tiny that they just hang in the atmosphere, whiting out the sky, the curves and crevices of the land. The mist hangs in the air. When it can it clings onto the leaves of the heather that coats the hills. The droplets sweep up the dust from the leaves’ undersides, they droop; globules with dust trapped inside.

The bell is tingling with the sound ringing through its skin. It is alive once again, and like a forlorn beast it shakes itself from the earth – the bell and the land rejecting each other. The bell pulls away, the mud and dust retreating from its tarnished inner skin. A mole hill near by spits out the clapper, the bell sucks it back inside. Complete, the bell rises from the earth; reborn. It rings out over the moor.

The family of field mice watch from a far. Their little noses twitch in the thick clanging in the air. The bell is free, a reborn beast from the belly of the earth.

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