Pixels are easy to persuade. It's fooling the eye that takes practice, effort. The pixel doesn't care what color you tell it to be. It's happy to comply. But a person takes the pixels and twists their words around. A certain shade of grey can be an accusation and another, a promise, and still another, a lie. I fill in holes, bit by bit, the places where non-persons stood in photographs. I reconstruct the wall, the sleeve of someone they stood next to.

It's a subtle art, nerve-racking. Sometimes I wish I could take the pen and swipe a thick black line across the screen, to relieve the tension, to suffocate all the precious details. But I am not alone in the Ministry of Truth and even if I were, I would still be seen. The frustration builds all day and it would be unwise to seek release. I try to push it aside, concentrate on the work, learn not to mind working with pictures blown up until they are nothing more than a meaningless grey quilt.

There are times I wish I were a prole, free to make a living from menial tasks. Physical labor frees the mind. It's all easily-learned algorithms. With enough practice, it can be done automatically, leaving one to consider whatever one chooses. But this.. The motion of the pen across the surface of the desk is mechanical - click, click, click - but that motion can mean a million different things. It demands concentration, a myopic focus on dull configurations, and the ability to perceive the effect on the picture as a whole, looking at only a fragment.

I keep my posture straight, my expression content, studious, neutral. I watch the darkness of a pixel change in increments. I push numbers around on the tip of my pen. I had to learn not to clench my teeth while I work. It would be noticed.

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