Narian walked a lot. He didn’t much enjoy the company of humans anymore, but the animals were a comfort to his weary soul. The donkeys brayed as he walked quickly by. He was more like an animal himself now. Quite old, yet light as a bird, he carried nothing excessive with him and that included bodyweight especially. He liked moving quickly, he always had in his youth. Now it seemed easier than ever to keep the weight off, because he moved with the herds, never ceasing until his day was done and he would fall happily into bed, wondering if this time he wouldn’t wake up.
He wasn’t bothered one way or the other about death. It was a simple fact that his time was nearing. He was going to be 100 years old last time he checked, so the way he figured, all his remaining time on this planet was extra. He had lived and now he wandered, waiting for death. There was nothing he wished he could do, he was not envious of the youth, he was happy and proud of his time here. And he knew his time was coming. But the nagging, all-consuming question that stayed with him during his daily walks was, why had he lived this long? Why was he still here?
Surely, there was a purpose for his exceptionally long lifespan. After every person in his life had left this world, after he had no more connection to anyone in the world; what was the point of existence?
But he was still here, feeling aimless as he walked nibbly through the fields, following the wildlife and taking stock in their long gazes that made him confident they understood him more fully than any living person on this earth possibly could. Then one day, a female wildcat presented herself to him. It was common knowledge to this wilderness man that if a wildcat shows itself, it has been following for at least 7 miles and it wants to be seen. This cat was obviously pregnant, and looking into her sad eyes, Narian knew she was afraid. Being as old as he was, Narian was not afraid of the wildcat, he knew she had come to him and he was prepared to die in pursuit of assisting her. If that was even possible. Slowly, he moved closer to her, never breaking eye contact. She growled fiercely, her teeth bared. She was massive and Narian knew one swipe with that gigantic claw and he would be severely injured. Her pregnant belly made her no less substantial in size. Narian wondered if this was idiotic, but he simply knew he wanted to approach this wildcat. And that was enough to keep him moving closer as she made offensively terrifying noises at him. She was telling him, “fuck off,” but at the same time, to Narian, this felt like her fear speaking more than her true desire. She had approached him, he kept saying to himself, she was asking for his help. Hopefully, she would be brave enough to accept it, and not kill him before he had the chance to do some good.
But what good could he do for a wild animal, a creature that had instincts sharper than his? One of them being, kill any threat. What could he do for her? Thinking this, Narian stopped in his tracks. He looked dead into her eyes, and he simply stood there. At first, she continued her threatening growls, not desisting. Then, she began to quiver a bit. There was less incentive to keep up the battle. She stopped suddenly and stared back into his eyes. Narian knew now was the moment she would reveal her true cause for being there. Slowly, the beautiful beast rolled onto her back; and let out the most heart-wrenching wail Narian had ever heard. He could not tell if it meant pain of a physical or mental nature, but he knew it meant pain. Now Narian was truly lost, that voice broke his heart. She was crying out in a way that he had never heard before but seemed to depict perfectly the agony that life causes. The constant loss that comes with time, and how it breaks your soul. Standing there, Narian began to cry. Standing before this powerful wildcat he understood what he had not understood before. That he was ready to die, and that she had come here to end his journey. As though confirming the thought, the female wildcat cried again and then a small cub was visible. She had given birth in those two harsh cries and now the end had come, and something new had begun. Not missing a step, the female wildcat stood up, swished her tail and faced Narian; they were squarely facing each other. She stared into his eyes, and after registering his expression of calm, she crouched down, swished her tail and pounced. Narian was the death and the cub was the rebirth. With both of those circumstances happening at once, they were linked and Narian went from being an old man with no purpose to a cub with a whole new life ahead of him. After he died in his old form, he opened his eyes and was in the body of a cat. He looked into the eyes of the wildcat; his mother. Only this time he could understand what she was saying. She looked deep into his eyes and said, “Welcome home my son, you have been alone a long time. But I have been watching you. I have been waiting to teach you these new ways.”
“Why? What is the purpose?” Cub Narian asked.
“You will have to wait and see, my son,” she said.
And now, at the beginning of a new life cycle, Narian rose from his birthing bed and followed his mother into the forest. He was no longer alone. He had a purpose, he had a fellow-creature to learn from. He had a reason for his walking. There was a lightness in his step that he remembered from his other form, but now there was a joy that was driving it. He wondered vaguely at the purpose of this new form and the fact that he could remember his time as an old man; he thought maybe it stood to be significant. But even as he thought of his old form the image of that time began to fade. It felt oddly like a strange dream more than it happening to him. Maybe it had just been a dream.
“Keep up!” his mother called ahead of him.
He bounded forward, eager to please and not willing to be left behind. There was so much to discover and explore. Had he really seen the grass this color before? He couldn’t recall, and yet he had seen this spot before, he thought. It seemed vaguely familiar. But maybe he was mistaken, maybe it had only been a dream...
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