“Solitude”

The soft click of claws on dry earth woke the old priest from his light slumber. He opened his eyes, blinked in the dim light and looked around for the source of the click-click.

There was nothing.

He chuckled. He wondered if he was becoming senile at his age. For a moment, he touched his face and felt the lines. So many years. Stories, etched into his skin. His body had untold tales.

The old priest wondered who would tell these stories to the young ones, especially the acolytes, firm of flesh and bright-eyed?

Click-click.

There was that sound again. Might be one of those strays lurking around, looking for scraps from the temple kitchen. Normally, the priests would tolerate the strays, even with good humor.

Something moved in the shadows. The candles flickered, as if by a gentle breeze. The old priest suddenly felt old, wizened beyond his time. He looked up at the statue before him.

Click-click.

The statue moved. Or its shadow. The old priest started, stood up silently. For a moment, he thought he saw the sleek body, the long legs and the elegant ears shifting, alive.

“A trick of the eye,” he told himself. “At my age.”

He began the chants, sprinkling myrrh over the hot coals. Fragrance, sizzling. Normalcy.

I will see you when the time comes.

The words died. He froze, almost dropping the censer.

“A trick of my mind,” the old priest shivered. The voice was almost genderless. Kind in tone. He focused on the chants.

In the shadows, lips curled, as if in gentle amusement.

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