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The floor of the temple was cold. All the warmth in her body seemed to seep out into the stones, and before long her fingers and toes felt as if they were made of ice, and her limbs felt as heavy as the stones themselves.

She lay still, outstretched before the altar, not moving for hours, even as the other novices came and went, as they muttered and stepped over her scrawny limbs.

She lay still, unmoving, as an anxious sister leant over her and touched her cheek, whispering the same quiet questions that she was so used to hearing.

Her lips moved only as much as they had to in order to answer. Yes she was all right. No she didn’t need anything.

They wondered about her, she knew. They whispered about her behind her back. Nobody believed that she was a simple, devoted girl who simply sought the peace of the cloister through faith. They thought she was escaping from something; hiding something.

They were right, of course, but she would never let them know.

She lay still, surrounded by the ghosts of her past, and in constant silent prayers she listed their names and asked their forgiveness.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: The 3WW challenge this week: the words Anxious, Devoted and Scrawny.)

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