Mid-life Erasure by Edward Lee
Most of the day was gone before I realised I no longer had fingerprints. I had rubbed thumb against forefinger and noticed how smooth the skin felt, how easily tip caressed tip with no resistance at all. When I looked at the tip of my thumb I saw none of those whorls which seem to contain a hint of infinity. When I looked at the tips of my other fingers I saw the same, no whorls, supposedly unique to every human being, or marks of any kind, not even the ancient scar on my little finger, so old I couldn't even remember what wound had left it there, yet every time I looked at it, without fail, I felt mouth filled with salvia; this time, not seeing the scar, my mouth remained relatively dry.
In truth, I thought nothing of it—I had other worries to occupy my mind—even as a voice in my head whispered I should think something, anything, finger.
prints don't just disappear; my thinking was I had never been in any situation where my fingerprints were a consideration, nor did I foresee a day in the future when they would be, and so, if they were gone, it was hardly the end of the world.
It was only later, full dark in the sky, the cold air biting, as I was on my way to the off-license to buy some alcohol (the only way I can sleep anymore, my thoughts, and the worries beneath those thoughts, needing to be dulled into silence) I discovered my driver's license was absent from my near empty wallet. I never took my license from my wallet. Further examination revealed that my name was missing from both my debit and credit card, though all the other information—expiry date, card number, even the security codes on the back which always seem to fade into nothingness just when you forget it—were present and correct.
The whisper of earlier in the day was now a shout and I could not ignore it, no matter what other worries I had to dwell upon. I had to think something, anything.
And so I thought and thought and, after a time I did not keep track of so intent was I on my thinking, I found myself no closer to understanding what had happen. But I found I was further away from my other worries than I had ever been, which led me to decide what I must do, the only thing I could do. I began to walk, in a direction that was opposite to everything I had ever known, from my home—such as it was—and my job—again, such as it was—and, essentially, my life. With each step I took, my tread became lighter until I found myself passing within reaching distance of the clouds, breathing air that was thin and yet utterly refreshing.
I have yet to stop walking. I might never stop walking.