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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Young Adult · #2195219
Two men meet an outcast woman in the desert missing her left hand.
The woman meandered forwards, seemingly paying the pair no mind. She looked longingly into the hot sand, distracted by her own thoughts.

"Do you recognize her?" Whispered the man on the left.

"Her?" Replied the man on the right, "no, but I've seen her type."

"What do you mean?"

"She doesn't have a name. She's one of those Nameless, Excoms, whatever you'd like to call them. Those who've been excommunicated by the church and shunned by the state."

"Woah. I've never seen one before." He looked over at her with curious fascination, like a child studying an ant.

"I'm sure you have," responded the right man, shrugging.

There was relative silence as the woman raised her vision from her feet to the sky. There was nothing but typical ambience- wind blowing across the sand, the skittery sound of fleeing lizards, and the distant cry of a desert hawk. Her hair was unkempt, disheveled, and her face was dirty with sand. She wore a simple brown garb- almost tribalwear, with the patchwork look indicating they're handmade. She also sported green leather shoes, likely constructed from the abundant lizards.

The Excom pulled her gaze away from the harsh sun, and turned to face the men. She locked eyes with the one on the right, and her gaze had such intensity he felt as if he was going to melt. That's when they noticed; her left hand was missing. There was naught but a stump, marking her a criminal, a thief. The highest of sins, in the Order of the Hands. A sin that took your left hand, if caught.

The rightmost man spoke to the Excom.

"How long has your exile lasted?"

She jumped, looking suprised at his speech. She replied slowly, her voice croaking and weak, as if not used in some time. "Twelve years, as of last moon."

The man pondered, his hand stroking his chin before he spoke. "Surely Solaris can forgive your sins and you can be re-welcomed by the Church, Excom? If you pray and pray, perhaps you can rejoin society once more." He paused, taking a deep breath. The man then removed the glove over his left hand, exposing a mechanical imitation. The wind gusted, sending a particularly large spray of sand to bite into their exposed skin.

His flesh ended at the wrist, and that's where prosthetic began. Mechanics could be seen on the inside as he turned and gripped with his false hand, as if to show it off. "I would know." He slipped the glove back on, as to not expose it to the sand for too long.

The woman fell to her knees, looking up at the man. The left man looked at the right, confused and stunned. Time seemed to freeze for a mere moment, and that moment lasted an eternity. The left man began to speak, but the woman began crying dry tears, carving paths on her sandy face. She spoke, slowly.

"Thank you." She gasped for breath. "Your simple act of kindness has once more given me hope-" she coughed- "the hope that I can be whole once more. You're the first to speak to me in five years."

Her gaze dropped into the sand, and she wept. Tears of sadness, regret, or joy, the men were not sure.

Soon, she stood. She faced away from the pair, and she walked. She walked a short distance, and fell to her knees again, evidently in prayer. The right man did so as well, and sent a prayer to Honos for justice to be served, and to Solaris for her salvation. He didn't know her in the slightest, but he felt a connection with all Excoms, especially ones who have been gone so long. Though he had been welcomed back, he still held the belief that all Excoms were a family, brought together by consequence of their actions.

He stood. The moment had passed, time to move on with their lives. The woman would find salvation, or she would not. Golar was testing her will, Solaris testing her dedication, and Honos judging her. He could feel it.

The left man began, "What did yo-"

"Shh. We shall not speak of this."

The left man began to speak again, but stopped before he could. They walked on in contemplative silence.

The right man couldn't help but wonder, did she even remember her name?

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