Tabitha awoke to a birdsong. She'd heard the soft bell coos in her sleep paralysis. She awoke fully, adjusting her vision to the palm fronds above her bedroom window balcony. From her horizontal angle, it seemed like everything else in the world was turned off. Was it a bird dropped from new spring tide? That sound like a siren, a calling to something wild inside of her. She felt in her covers for her phone, the time blinking 0 like a microwave dinner cooked up.
How beautiful, a ghost sigh out of the earth! She sprung out of bed in her dusty pink robe with unbridled intention to investigate. To find this bird would crossover something deep inside her! She put slippers on, she put her hair up in an old-lady bun, crossing the block without coffee. There were tulips and begonias in the ground, the world was the same as it was yesterday, but without this bird, this darling trance.
Tabitha picked up her step, fearful the bird would quit its symphony, fly away home. If she lost track of the sound, how could she remember anything as extraordinary ever again? The Hansel and Gretel effect, the lonely searcher. The imagery in her mind was as light and flightly and unweathered as it made her feel! She knew she was headed the right way, the sound becoming clearer with every shuffle around a corner.
The ferry boat down the gradual hill, the rusty pine needles lining her way. Everybody noticed her euphoric visage. Crossing the bridge over the school zone below, on a Saturday morning without children, the angelic noise developed. “I want to see you,” she said softly. Far from home, in her slippers.
The chime was broken up now, and it was not a bird she walked for.
Tabitha waited on the sidewalk by the traffic light waiting to cross. Town was that way, her normal to and fro route. It was this side of the countryside where summer was giving, autumn was restless, winter brutal like metal on metal, and this mesmerizing interference of her day, a gift.
The soul of the sound grew in pitch and died again, and climbed again. How could a bell be old-fashioned? An old-fashioned sound like a Christmas record in a sprightly chorus. She'd crawl and faint to it like a holy light as if the outcry pounded from underground. When she couldn't hear the whistle, only the rise of the pretty tone, she stopped in her tracks, and men in hats and women on their phones pushed rudely past her. “Don't go,” she winnied like an old pony.
The direction of the chime was changing. She felt curious but exhausted in her hunt, the wind knocking her like a wave. An instrument? A musician playing a string instrument? It couldn't be, her bedroom on the second landing on a cul-de-sac wouldn't travel. To find this thing would create a melancholy so deeply profound, her life experience would shift. The sentimentality was tremendous!
Tabitha felt the sound harden as she got closer, picking up her step. She walked along a dirt path with buzzards and sunbeams, drawing herself into a memory of how good she'd always been with change growing up, all the soft touches of childhood and young adulthood. She'd always had a grip, the world a whole storybook, not just a few pages marked. All that elegant black and white vision.
Had curiosity ever enveloped her the way it was on this morning pursuit? The warmth of her life was spooling out like clouds. “Where are you?” Tabitha said, feeling like a pale movie star at the climax. She reached the chain-link fence and the hanging of the silver moss on the padded copper realty sign. The sound had lost its transcendence, its harmony. “Hello?”
The weed field in front and in back of her was sweeping her ankles as the wind lifted. She didn't mind, listening for the ting-ting that was gently rhythmic up close, unlike a song at all. She tilted her head and trembled as she felt winged around the edge of the noise. “I'm coming for you”.
A sign read Special Handling on the stone building, sticking like shoes in a puddle. She splayed her hands on the wall to peer around, over the crowd moseying about in their weekend shuffle. “I'm coming for you”.
Breaking open, she felt what she hunted for, the noise revealing itself like a parent with open arms. “That's it?”
A tin can strapped to a sneaker, flying into the fence, again and again like a wind chime. Ugly and used, beating itself upside down. Her slipper damp from a puddle, she turned quickly to steer away from the disappointment. Like the course of things, her black and white she'd always had a grip on, and this was as disappointing as a lost gift. Her inner morgue. This was how she saw things, disappointing and buzzing for attention she tried to give and when it didn't give back, she felt overexposed. How beautiful it had felt to her from far away.
This was the way to be built, curiously and soundly like a bell against the ordinary morning.
About the Author: Kayli is from Ft. Lauderdale. Her fiction is published in Storychord, Atticus Review, Vagabond City, The Fem, and Minor Literature[s]. She tweets at @kaylischolz.