The night before Hazen had presented the orange jar to the girls, he had a dream. He had dreamed of a room of absolute whiteness. The walls, the floor, the long lab tables…they were all white. There was a thick photo album laying closed on one of the tables—the cover was black. Next to it was a small, worn-out book, whose name Hazen couldn’t pronounce. Then, on the table nearest to Hazen was a beaker of orange liquid, and a very small, but empty, jar right next to it. For what felt like a few minutes—even though there really was no telling, given that it was only a dream—the boy was the only person in the room.
After that, though, a young man strode out from a white door—camouflaged by the wall, so Hazen hadn’t seen it there before. The sound of his umber boots resonated across the room. The man had a long, neat lab coat—again, the color of white—and a pair of white gloves on his hands. His eyes were a sharp green color, and his layered curls a light turquoise. He wore a passive aggressive smile on his face as he glanced at Hazen, but he didn’t speak until he reached the boy. On his way, the man grabbed the photo album, and the small, worn-out book.
First, he opened the photo album and showed the pictures inside to Hazen. Slowly, the man flipped the pages, one by one, without looking at the images. The whole while, his eyes were on the boy, scrutinizing his expressions as the pages flipped. All photographs were of either Hazen himself, Allyce, Mr. Jaeger, or Mitsu –with the last one taking up the most space. From the angle of the pictures, it seemed that they were taken in secret. Hazen was so busy looking at the images that he didn’t look up at the man at all, until the last page too was over. It was only then that he raised his chin to the man, to notice that the taller one was still wearing the same smile, with the same look in his eyes, as though the expression had been carved onto his face.
“Um…” Hazen was the first to speak, but he found the man in front of him quite intimidating, even though he hadn’t yet uttered a word.
“Your friends, yes?” the man asked in a honeyed voice.
Hazen shook his head, his thoughts traveling to the images of Mr. Jaeger in that album.
“Ah, that’s right…Dolphus Jaeger isn’t a friend, is he?” Once again, the unnamed man guessed. This time, Hazen nodded. “It is for that reason I have summoned you here today,” he continued after seeing Hazen’s response. “The man whom you and your friends hate, also happens to be my sworn enemy. Would you like him to disappear, boy?”
Hazen hesitated. “How?”
“A careful one, aren’t you?” said the man, amused. “Don’t worry, it is very simple.” He took the small empty jar, and the beaker containing an orange liquid. He then poured a little of the orange fluids into the small jar. After closing the metal lid of the jar, the man handed it to him. “Your teacher has a cup of coffee every day, yes? Just pour this into his cup when he’s not looking. My magic will take care of the rest.”
“What are you?” Hazen couldn’t help but ask, once the word “magic” was mentioned.
“A wizard of sorts, you could say. Now, mind you.” As he spoke, the man walked over to another table, one that had upon it a beaker of mud, a beaker of water, and a long, wooden spoon. “For everything that you do, a consequence follows. The consequence of this is very simple: Mitsu will forget about you, about Allyce, about Dolphus Jaeger. She is to move away also.”
Once again, the man paused, waiting for Hazen’s reaction—not response. Hazen almost rejected the offer, when the wizard spoke once again. “If this keeps on, you know it will get even worse.” Even if the line was ambiguous, Hazen knew to what he was referring—Mr. Jaeger’s odd punishments. “Pretty soon, children will disappear, and nobody will remember them. Lose one friend and live happily—although separately—or lose all your friends, your choice.”
There was a pause, again. This time, Hazen nodded. “Okay,” he said, gripping the small jar, and putting it into his pocket.
“There is one more thing,” the man said, gesturing towards the two beakers and one spoon in front of him. “People never truly forget anything, but those memories don’t come up until you stir them. Look, this mud here represents Mitsu’s will-be-lost memories. These memories are always inside her mind, even though they are buried at the very bottom.” While saying this line, he added the water into the beaker of mud. The brown contents were still at the bottom, safe and still. “But it takes one spoon to stir it up again.” He put the spoon into the solution, and began stirring. Soon, the mud and water were mixed together. “Fortunately, for you, it’s not just any spoon that will stir up her memories.” He stopped, and slid the worn-out book across the table to Hazen. “This is the only key to those memories. Keep it from her, and everything will be fine. If she remembers…”
Hazen gazed at the book, taking it carefully in his hands.