The bell of the Cathedral began to toll, one, two, three… I could hear the birds chirping. It was a beautiful day, white rafts of clouds bumping against each other in a tender blue sky etched with the great spires of the Cathedral. Four, five, six. The chickadees and the wrens and the larks chattered. Seven, eight nine.
I could hear the splashing of the fountain. Ten, eleven, twelve. I thought how much I have missed you these last few days. And the bell kept tolling. A sad and solemn sound, paced like the slowest footsteps. Twenty one, twenty two. And still it tolled. The shadows seemed to lengthen. Clouds moved across the sun. Thirty, forty. The mourning of the bell continued.
The trickling water did not stop; gravity continued its mission. The birds seemed not at all perturbed, singing sweetly. Or perhaps they chattered to each other about the notes of the bell circling like bats. What could be wrong, they wonder amongst themselves. What sadness has visited the world? Or perhaps they know, and sing anyway.
I left the window and came back long moments later and still the notes of the bell tolled forth. Listen, it said again and again. So many names drifting off on the faint breeze.
Fifty, sixty, seventy, it tolled its saddening song. The hundredth toll came; the hundred and fiftieth sailed into the sky. I began to notice how each toll would bleed into the next, sorrow finding a new voice before it fades. Until finally the last ringing of the bell floats away on the wind. The birds have their uninterrupted say.