I trace the character for sun on the back of my right hand, the pad of my finger trailing over my knuckle and tracing the bone in my index finger. The symbol connects a needle pointing north to one pointing east and a needle pointing west to one pointing south. The character itself resembles a tilted compass slashed diagonally, supposed to resemble the rays of the sun reaching out from a blinding middle, but what should I know? The character was made by our ancestors in some time long before this, before the language turned to letters instead of symbols. When my teacher had taught me this symbol many years ago, I had wondered why he had made me draw it continuously on the back of my hand every morning. I would draw and draw until my skin burned from pressing into bone and flesh.
I understand now Teacher, I thought warily, I wish I had known before though.
The space I was in was empty, other than the chair and the table sitting in front of me. It was a strange, but familiar emptiness. It is a feeling where something precious should be there, but instead, the gap where it should belong has been hollowed out. There is a door at the opposite side of the room from me, the outline a light gray compared to the rest of the room’s sterile white. I wish to leave, but I have been chained to the table, a thick chain that I cannot break even if I tried.
I cannot escape now. I should accept it, but I can’t. There is some part of me raging against my deletion. Not this time, I thought, especially when I found him.
Flashes of bright light and laughter appear and disappear in my mind. I can imagine the table in front of me was the shabby wooden one I knew from my master’s house. The bent nail at the corner of the table is sharp, and I am careful not to scrape my elbow against it as I set the table. The walls and floors are concrete gray, and the food and everything is garbled and undecorated, but it feels comfortable. I recognize the crack in the back corner, where several mice would come in and out when they thought we were not there. There is a lamp hanging above the table, with a glowing Lux stone attached to a bright shade, whose light bounces off the twisted knuckles of master’s hands. Every vein popped out of those working hands, but he would never complain, no matter how deep his calluses were where he held his staff. He was smiling at me, telling me something, but I can never connect the mouthing to words, even if I was good enough at lip reading.
He calls over to his wife, her dress bulging above her waist. The two of them together are ragged, their brown clothes covered in bruises and dust, but they never let it show. Master was already white haired, the strands flying in wisps from his wide, wrinkled face. His wife’s hair was no less aimless, but was a warm brown flying in every direction from her shoulders. I knew how hard master worked every day, how many buildings he scaled, but when he was in the house, that disappeared. He was simply happy to be with his wife, and his soon to be son.
The sun, I thought again, I’m losing my sun.
The door opens, and a woman in a gray cloak and short steel blond hair walks into the room with a clipboard, expressionless. I have known the members of this organization to be distant, and she is no different. There is more space between her and me than the entire room, two planets in different orbits. I notice she is barely two times the height of the table, and is probably way too young to have the job she has.
“Subset Silver,” she says, “I trust you are aware of your situation?”
“I am aware,” I say, “I am being prepared for deletion.”
“Correct,” she looks down at her clipboard, flipping through the report. “Now, for protocol, it is necessary to go through confirmation before starting the process. To begin, what is your current name?”
“Lyn Damian Lenart.”
“I am currently 23 years, 34 suns, and 14 ticks old.”
“I am the current version of The Silver Shadow, an agent for the Ark.”
I feel my eyes glass over as she continues questioning, relaying every answer as I had rehearsed it on my first day. I know every answer as if it has been etched into my brain, which in a way, it had been.
“Now, please recall the incident that has issued this deletion, if you please,” she says, sounding none less interested as when she had entered the room.
I take a deep breath, recalling the memory into my mind. It had been a regular mission, I had been called upon after my shift at the Arena, and I had prepared for it just like any other time. I had packed my extending staff, changed into my silver cloak, and taken a dose of Seon and other stone remedies necessary for these types of purge missions. It was too similar to every other day, I had missed the difference in this one.
The moon had been full, glazing the clusters of buildings in silver light. I had spotted the target running across the streets, stumbling across barrels and wooden balconies in the fronts of stores. It was past curfew, so Commons was mostly devoid of people except for this sole man. He has been tall, lean, and the hair, it gleamed brighter than any I had seen. The catch had been easy. Too easy.
“So, you were unaware of who this man was at the time?” the girl asks, looking at me with pale blue eyes.
“Yes,” I say, heat rushing to my cheeks, “it was my mistake. There is no other class that could have hair so bright, I should have known, but I let the moon trick me.”
“The golden hair gleamed too silver to recognize.”
“And,” she says, cocking her head, “what concluded this event?”
“I did the procedure, but unfortunately, I was unable to cure the victim. It was then I tok a good look at his face and I realized who I had failed. My surprise allowed the man to counterattack, knocking me out and allowing for his escape. I never would have thought I could have lost such an important man, for that, I understand why I must be deleted,” I say, the words bitter on my tongue.
“Understood. We will begin the procedure,” she says, scribbling a few notes onto her clipboard. Once finished, she looks me straight in the eyes, and I can imagine for a moment what this girl would look like if she could smile.
“As part of deletion, you are allowed one dying message. Would you like to partake in this?” she asks.
I lean my head back, staring at the white ceiling, I have too many words to say and too little time to say them. It is hard to reap a bushel from a field.
“Yes,” I say, “please give this to the boy who lived with me.”
“Tell him to forget about me. Everything and anything he knows about me. And tell him to follow the sun.”