Instead of counting off the minutes back, the old man made a habit of counting stones that he had found along the way. Keeping score until he reached home again.
A peculiar habit, one that he had entertained since childhood. With every step, another stone. With every stone, another step. Often several would catch his eye at once. But he always counted just one.
And when there were none close enough to actually see – old men who need glasses can still be quite vain – he’d pretend to count them anyway, never missing a single one. Confident, always, that they were just out of sight.
This was his daily routine. Just an old man counting stones on his way back home. Some as smooth as velvet, some half buried, some undisturbed for years. And so many, many more that no one would ever notice in a lifetime.
Unless you really focused. Unless you were trying to count them.
Like some old man with a trace of OCD that no one will likely ever remember.
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