The town is flanked by a river, and in winter we often get fog, the river’s warm breath condensing in the cold air and drifting through the streets. One morning, the fog is there when I wake, and lasts for hours, making ghosts of the trees and houses on the other side of the street. As night falls, the fog soaks up the orange light of the streetlamps, and seems to glow. It looks tangible: I think if I pressed my hand against it, it would leave an imprint, an indentation, the way my pillow holds the shape of my skull. At eight o’clock, the church bells start to ring. It’s Wednesday, practice night for the ringers. Minutes later, the fog starts to break up, disperse. Long skeins unravel and dissolve. And, because this is all I have – the view from my window, and the sounds I can hear – because this is my entire world of meaning, I understand that it’s the bells, ringing, that are breaking up the fog. Maybe through their deep vibration, the way the sound rolls the air. But no – it’s something more: something to do with all the centuries for which those bells have rung, and the eternity they stand for, so that nothing as fragile and deceiving and earth-bound as fog can possibly hold fast in their presence.


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