He waited a lifetime for his turn to ring The Bell.
It was said that The Bell opened the Next Door.
Even though no one knew where the Next Door led, everyone spoke of it in hushed tones and reverently blinked when referring to The Bell.
His many memories of The Bell were fuzzy, soundless, and surreal which allowed another door to open – for doubt.
The solid sure footsteps he started with now shuffled tentatively while beads of sweat turned into streams.
His hand trembled as he reached for The Bell’s chain. Eyes closed and teeth clenched, he felt the cool links slip into his palm as if they belonged. A soft pull later, a deep dark stillness enveloped him.
A slow blink later, his Next Door appeared and intricately beckoned to be opened.
The complete exploration of the new unfamiliar territory took him five days.
He maneuvered through the valleys and over the hills where he met nothing but nothingness. He rested in the shade during the swelter of the days and moved more quickly at night.
His tracks show his dedication.
He scanned the horizon for signs of danger while he sampled the surface underfoot, every hair on his body alert, reaching and seeking.
Once the entire terrain was mapped out, he felt it safe to move on, go back, and set everyone’s concern at ease. Though his own concern grew more insistent the closer he got to home.
Fear not friends, there are no monsters or gods or poisonous gases or predators looking to harm us.
Yet he still felt a whisper of the heavy, expectant nothingness slowly surrounding and settling in.
The wind fuels her rituals – neverending sitting, deciphering, reporting – the weight of it all suffocates her.
Why do I have to do this anyway? I harbor nothing ill for the bird, the dog ruminates.
Lava-hot anger rises within as she realizes she merely does what she is told, falling into line with her ancestors demands.
Romping through the lands with the bird like an abandoned hurricane full of fearsome glee is her true calling.
And in that moment, freedom.
Jumping into the winds, she opens her jaws wide, snapping in desperate hope, against all odds and designs… when it happens.
Her paws land on roads of invisible flutters and life begins anew.
The wind fuels her rituals – roaming, howling, frolicking – and she wonders if she will ever get to enjoy sitting still again.