Fifty cents! A bargain for some, over-priced for others. I’m just a small brass bell with dings, dents, dull of color, and scratched. During my two months on the thrift store shelf, no one has noticed me. I’m old, discarded. But shake me, my sound is as vibrant as ever. Sound is what I was created for.
My journey has included many years and several owners. My first owner was four-year-old Sarah. Sarah was afraid of the dark, and often had nightmares. Her mother bought me so Sarah could ring at night when she was afraid. Sarah loved me, and affectionately named me Ding-Dong.
Even when Sarah outgrew night fears, she didn’t neglect me. I became a beloved possession, used for play and enjoyment. Sarah was twelve when they moved. I was left behind when I fell out of a box and rolled into the corner of the closet. I was sure Sarah would look for me, but she didn’t.
My purpose to exist vanished. Or so it seemed.
The next owner was another four-year-old girl named Hannah. “Look, Mommy, a clacker.” Hannah scooted out of the closet, holding me in her hand.
“Ugh, throw it in the garbage. You don’t need it. A stupid, noisy bell will drive me nuts. Get rid of it now, and put your clothes away in drawers. Now, Hannah!”
But Hannah kept me. At night when her parents’ voices raised in anger, she’d softly shake me, and whisper, “Listen to the bell and not to them.”
Three years later, Hannah’s daddy left and she and her mommy were moving. They had a garage sale and an elderly woman bought me. “Oh, my! I collect brass knickknacks. This will look lovely on my shelf.”
But when she got home, I fell from the bag and rolled under a bush. The fall dented me, and branches scratched my shiny exterior. My purpose to exist vanished again.
I lay there for over a year before the boy next door found me. He cleaned me, ran a rope through my looped handle and hung me outside his tree house. Friends would pull the rope, I would ding-dong, and entrance was granted. I had purpose again.
I was there for many years. The boy outgrew the tree house. Others moved in, and I was used again. “Unless you ring the bell, you can’t come into the tree house,” a boy would call out. During summers I got used a lot.
It was during a time when there were no small boys that the rope rotted and broke. I fell to the ground and the family dog grabbed the piece of rope still looped through my handle. Barking and growling, he dragged me around the yard, the sound of my clapper driving him to a frenzy of activity. Alas, the dog dug a shallow hole behind the shed and put me there.
There was no purpose for me now. The hole was dark and dirty. Months passed, then years. Eventually rain and wind eroded my covering and a corner of my dome was visible. Yet there I remained.
Found! I was found. Hands lifted me, shook me, brushed dirt and twigs off me. Shook me again, but no sound came forth. Fingers reached inside and removed dirt. Freedom! I dully clacked. Hands held me under water, dried me, then polished me. My sound came alive.
I have purpose once again. Shall I be used to summon a mother? To comfort a child? To announce entrance to a tree house?
Gentle hands set me on a shelf. I glistened with pride. But time passed and I made no sounds. Wasn’t sound my purpose? Occasionally someone commented on me, but I was never shaken to make sound.
More time passed, and the lady was gone. I was sent in a box, among many boxes, to the thrift store -- old, useless, discarded. No one wanted or needed me.
Then hands picked me up one day. Fingers tenderly shook me and sound burst forth.
“I can’t believe it,” a familiar, yet unfamiliar, voice said. “Look inside. I carved my initials when I was a girl, S. H. My mother bought this for me when I was four years old. We moved and I couldn’t find it in any of the boxes. I looked and looked. This is a miracle.”
Sarah! Could it be? The one who loved me had carved her name on me. I belong. Though old, I still have purpose.
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