"It would be in your best interest if you simply forget."
That's what they were told. Their youthful, eager-to-please eyes stared up at the stern countenance of their superior. It was their first official day as full-time reapers at the Shinigami Dispatch Association, a job where trifling things such as emotions are forbidden. As his department manager droned on about the rules, he already felt his mind beginning to drift. Drifting to thoughts of
Morning. Despite his relatively-short time as a collections officer, one thing has never changed: his deep, burning hatred for mornings and the preliminary paperwork that came with them. It might not be so bad if he hadn't already overslept. He felt strangely
off today. Dragging himself out of bed had been more difficult than usual. He moves groggily through the halls of the dispatch office, coffee mug in one hand, halfheartedly covering a yawn with the other. He pauses to sip the steaming beverage. Blowing a loose strand of blonde hair out of his eye, he continues toward his office as he tries to recall the last time he actually got to sleep in. Lost in thought, he abruptly stumbles over a throw rug. He manages to regain his balance, but his mug tilts, dripping black liquid onto his freshly-shined white Oxfords.
" Placing the mug on a nearby desk, he kneels down and rummages in his jacket pocket. Producing his handkerchief, he rubs it against the soiled leather until it gleams. He grins. Suddenly, he hears someone deliberately clear their throat nearby. He looks up in time to catch the disapproving glance of a passing elder. The younger reaper recognizes the man as one of his instructors from the Academy.
"It's past clock-in time, young one. Shouldn't you have already begun your paperwork by now?" The elder shinigami marches past the annoyed youth still kneeling on the floor. The blonde-haired reaper lets out a little huff and stands, readjusting his tilted glasses. "Geez," he mutters to himself, shoving his hanky back into his pocket. "What's with that guy? He doesn't even remember my name or anything
Familiar words ring out in his mind. It would be in your best interest if you simply forget. He looks at the faces of men and women hurriedly passing around him: coworkers, bosses, even a few he's come to call his friends these past
how long's it been? He looks down, thinking for a moment. Ah, yeah. Twenty-six years. He smiles once more, but the expression is clouded by a hint of sadness.
When he looks up again, he pays close attention to his surroundings. Abruptly, he begins to see the faces of his fellow reapers in a different light, almost as if he's seeing them for the first time. He can't help but focus upon their perpetually-serious expressions, never blurred by emotion. He hears the voice of William T. Spears echo in his thoughts: Work does not require unnecessary emotions. We simply need to finish the task according to Superior's orders with subtlety. Discreetly. That's what the boss has always said, right? Shinigami don't need the emotions of their past lives interfering with their current lives.
But they were human once, too. He knows most of the reapers are very old, much older than himself. By centuries, even. Still, they had parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, enemies. Lovers. The aspects of human life shinigami are directed to forget. How well have some of them abided by the rules? Forgetting his cup of coffee, he shoves his hands in his pockets and starts moving forward again, passing the countless rows of desks at an even slower pace than before. How many of the other reapers' memories have faded with time? He wonders how many have allowed it to happen.
Looking at their distant, vacant expressions, he realizes they are merely running through the motions. They have accepted this as their life now. Parents, siblings
Yes. Most of them don't remember. Friends, enemies
But Ronald Knox does.