The weight of the brush in his hands feels heavier than the weapon of an executioner. Six of them now stand a little ways behind him, all looking at him and waiting for him to start. Time is never a luxury for them; rather, it is a measurement of their loyalty.
With a sigh, he readjusts the inkhorn tied to his waist, and begins to move.
He’s never been so desperate to spot those who are grieving, but today, he hopes to see even a glimmer of unshed tears, even the kind that lingers on a person’s soul. There may not be many, but there has to be some. It will have to be enough, even if he knows it isn’t. Nevertheless, it isn’t part of his duty to feel satisfied, so he tries to forget, and continues to move.
His linen clothes keep him cool in the heat of the day, but he never pauses unless it is to make a mark on someone who is mourning. As he predicted, he doesn’t make many pauses, and he tries not to notice whenever he hears the executioners’ weapons sing.
To be honest, his job is worse than theirs. Although they routinely dye their weapons red, at least they don’t have to feel responsible for the death of so many people. Their job is to execute. His job is to judge. Is this person remorseful enough? Is the person shedding genuine tears, or making a fool of himself? And is he being objective enough in his judgements?
Sometimes, he wants to turn back to mark those he passed. But he knows he can only turn back when he is done. So he keeps pressing forward and forward, wondering if the ink in his inkhorn will ever stop spilling over the edges as he moves.
When it is over, the executioners pile the corpses in their master’s home. The sound of a different kind of mourning begins to rekindle the stagnant air, but he can’t hear this sound. He only hears the footsteps of his master walking away, and he runs after him, silently praying that this will be the last time he has to work.