Nearby candlelight drumming woke me. Perhaps I should have been up to bear witness, though the thought of it repulsed me. I sought the only refuge that afforded me any sense of serenity and that was sleep, fitful as it was.

Secret societies and their rituals are nothing new.

I was flattered at first to be invited. I did not realize that the lifelong commitment would become more of a burden than any advantage membership initially offered.  Forty-nine tolls of the bell upon each death. Forty-nine candles, forty-nine verses, forty-nine silent mentions of their name.

The candles grew louder, they awaited my response. One of us had passed.

It was my turn to provide solace and comfort. I risked renouncement choosing another less respectful course.

I slept no more  that evening. My Sabbath begun anew. Duty bound by obligation. The bell began to toll.

I longed to be forsaken. In time. In due time.