By Lee Hamblin
Father decided to give each of his daughters a bell. They were bells intended for goats: conical and weighty, autumn-coloured and blushed with a blue-green patina. He bought them at the grain and feed store; strung like laundry across a rusty piece of wire, dangling above sackfuls of cat and dog biscuits. Along the row he dawdled, chiming each of them in turn, wincing at the off-key, delighting in those purer of note. He selected the three that sang to him.
When he chimed them together, they sounded a minor chord. When he played them individually, they harked a Beethoven air. These will do, he thought, and paid the storekeeper, who wondered, but never asked. Of course the storekeeper knew full well that the man never was, and never will be a keeper of livestock, it was that kind of town: small, remote, and tongue wagged. But he also knew that the vagaries of life could lead a man down some rather queer pathways.
Father summoned his daughters just as the day’s light was beginning to fade. He asked them to stand in line, in front of the bay window. He asked them not to speak a word. He asked them to give him this moment.
“Please,” he said. “Just this.”
They dutifully obliged, fidgety and worrisome nonetheless, but he was their Father, and it was fair to say that they loved him more than enough.
After about five or so minutes, and now that the sun was hidden behind the mountain, he beckoned his daughters to come closer, saying he had something for them. He handed each of them one of the goat bells, which he had since fastened to a lengthy piece of flesh-toned ribbon.
The one that chimed the root note (a c-sharp) he handed to his eldest daughter, the minor third to the middle child, and the perfect fifth he gave to his perfect youngest.
“Be sure to wear them at all times,” he said, “and if not around your neck, make sure to carry them in hand.”
Each daughter frowned quizzically at her sisters, but none appeared the wiser. They were all thinking the same thing: that the bells were far too unsightly to be worn as a pendant, and far too clunky to be fetched here, there, and everywhere. All three were wondering why – if this was indeed a gift – they had not been given a piece of polished stone, or a fracture of crystal, or even a tiny jewel once Mother’s, perhaps it could be clasped inside a silver locket and attached to a pretty chain, not too long, they thought.
Their minds were still wandering when Father clapped his hands once.
He then closed his eyes, and vowed to never open them again; for there was nothing in this world that when looked upon silenced his pain. Not his children. Not the sun. Not the moon.
Lee Hamblin is a Londoner living in Greece for the last decade. He’s had stories published with: Blue Fifth Review, Ellipsis, STORGY, Flash Frontier, Spelk, Reflex, F(r)online. Coming soon (2017) Bath Flash Anthology, Fictive Dream, and Stories For Homes Volume 2. He tweets @kali_thea and puts words here: https://hamblin1.wordpress.com.