The Twenty-eighth Leaf

A bell was struck three times in the night. The townspeople did not gather to quietly whisper and guess at the significance, for what had became known to me through Iona was now known to all. Three strikes: one for the Queen, one for the King, and one for . . .? Perhaps the third was for all of us, for we are all now less the richer.


Curator’s note: in a different handwriting

And then she was gone

From whence I first gazed

her smiling eyes

and realized

that love can lead us through

a darkened maze

And then she was gone

With pressure from her lips

still stinging sweet

so sweet

that none could come betwixt us,

we were one

And then she was gone

Like the life I knew with her

Like the life I longed to hold

Like the tears I hold inside

to save myself

but for not merely pride

No, not merely what I hide from you

but what now speaks to me

that, which I cannot bear to hear

And then she was gone

And with her, I.

No Sorren, though you write these words in your private diary you know that they are not true. You know in your heart the meaning of the third strike. The bell tolls not for you. The bells tolls not for the people. This can mean only one thing, and you know this to be true. The bell tolls for a child, and the anguish is for the child.

I read these word of anguish and I can only think of the anguish I experienced when I was given to the Church, for my mother was not dead and I pleaded to be able to stay with her. The tears in her eyes will never dry in my memory, nor the kiss she left me with . . .I was given a new life, for my mother could not keep me. My name is Melanthros . . .my name is Melanthros . . .my name is Melanthros.
— M

The death of the Queen here has come as a shock to Sorren. The behavior of the King in view of this makes perfect sense. M is not surprised. But Sorren either pretends, or is actually shocked, and even tries to discover an alternative explanation. Sorren has shown himself to be both wise and cognizant in these leaves, so I suspect that he is not really shocked at all, he knows the truth, it is more likely that he is heartbroken . . .disillusioned, and the pretended ignorance of the truth is in fact his own way of dealing with his inner pain.

Not so with M. This attempted glazing over of the truth by Sorren has upset this man and drawn out very powerful memories that are clearly difficult for him to acknowledge. He ends his note with a powerful declaration of his true name. He repeats it three times, just as the bells tolled at the death of the Queen. A death that has gone unmarked is to deny the pain that is far too often, formalized and ritualized, and buried alongside the dearly departed.

The reaction of Sorren is sad and poignant. Death should never be formalized to the point of being arranged like theatre. Sadly, what I see happening now as I get older and more sensitive to the inexorable pull of the grave and the slow disintegration of the human spirit, is a ghastly fascination with death, perpetuated in the films and books of those that deal with the macabre, for death is art in this context. Call me strange, but I do not want to be entertained by such grisly and contrived acts of murder and mayhem as part of my daily intake of media. I hate it. Death is never funny, and death should never be presented for consumption. Death is profound, and it should not be trivialized with false memories, false commendations, and false emotions.