Evarista was a dear friend of mine. Every Sunday, she would make it a habit to have morning tea with me and would always bring her own cup and saucer; a dainty set made out of bone colored porcelain with gold accents. One Sunday, she exclaimed that she was still hearing bells as if it was something she had mentioned to me previously. “I hear them above my bed and they are sometimes so loud, that they wake me from my sleep”, she said. Assuming she meant that she was hearing a ringing in her ears and taking into account her advanced age, I asked her to go to a doctor and have her hearing checked. She became agitated by the suggestion adamantly stated that she was not losing her hearing and seemed disappointed in me for my suggestion. I quickly changed the subject so as not to cause her any further strife.
One November afternoon, as I was decorating for the Christmas season, Evarista came by, cup and saucer in hand looking particularly tired. “I couldn’t sleep. The bells had me up all night long”. I didn’t know what to say given her reaction the previous time that she tried to mention this so I remained silent. I continued to bring out decorations from a box. As I slowly removed a jingling door hanger with a dark green velvet bow and reindeer bells, She screamed, “It’s following me!” dropping her precious cup causing it to break into tiny pieces, she stormed out the door.
After two months, I received a call from Evarista’s great niece telling me that my friend had passed, silently and alone in her bed. She asked if I would like to come to her estate sale to see if there was anything I would like as a memento.
The estate sale was crowded with people anxiously trying to snag any deal they could make. It all became too much for me so I escaped the hoards and made my way to her bedroom to witness the place where she had succumb to her eternal rest. As I started to leave, I noticed a cord hanging from an attic door just outside the room. A need to get into that space overcame me and I asked for permission to take a look at what was inside.
The attic was dark except for a light which shone from a 2×3 window. Directly in front of the light was a play area for a child. Seeing this in such a dilapidated place sent goosebumps up my arms. The dusty vintage blocks and cobwebbed toys disclosed that no child had played there for decades. In the center, I noticed an old baby blanket on the floor appearing to be hiding something. Imagining that I might startle an opossum, I carefully lifted the blanket to reveal a tattered old clown. Relieved, I picked the clown up and heard the jingling of a bell. At that moment, the conversation I had with Evarista, the tea and her running out the door after hearing my door hanger ring, all flashed in my mind.
I remembered once she told me over tea that she was supposed to have a brother who died at birth. After viewing the attics contents, I assumed those items belonged to her long ago and that perhaps, when she was a child grieving over the loss of her baby brother, she may have transferred the love that she wanted to give her brother, to her clown.
As I left her house, I realized that the attic scene was directly above where my friend slept and took her last breath. Was the sound of the bell coming from the clown merely the sound of an old house settling or was the clown trying to warn his sister of something? I will never know.