Daisy’s surprise was magnificent in itself, Job remembered. It made him feel proud. And on top of that, there were the books! All the many, neglected, worn down, dog-eared volumes that rose to many times the height of him and Daisy combined.
They stared up at them for a long time, thinking the same thing.
The volumes at the top must be the ones we want. The unreachable levels, that is where the answers must be.
Just then, a woman came, clacking noisily across the floor and startling them both. It had been such a long time since anyone made that much ruckus just by walking. Job looked down to see her shoes. They must be heavy metal or spiked, he thought. But no, they were just regular shoes, just fussily clean oxford shoes, with laces, just like theirs.
Both children cried out to explain their surprise, for the floor was so clean. No layer of dust swirled across the surface to muffle the noise of feet falling.
“Not much traffic in here.”
They looked up to see what they could only assume was the librarian speaking. Her explanation made sense to Job.
“It’s like magic!”
Daisy’s suggestion shook both of them. Job turned to look at her. The librarian knelt down.
“I suppose it’s like a spell. Yes.”
“Do you have any books on dust?”
Now the librarian looked at Job.
“God, you have blessed this world with your indecipherable plan. We accept your plan. We thank you for your blessings, heaped upon us by this world which we do not understand.”
The world, Job thought, seems to want to contain us. Cover us with its skin. Bring us into it with its gravitational weight like Mama’s fried meal, taking in the oil until it is no more.
“Well, they all seem to be sitting on some, don’t they?”
Job cocked his head to side in puzzlement over the woman’s answer. Yes. They were all them sitting on dust, weren’t they?
“But do any of the books explain dust?”
The librarian smiled, unbent her legs and turned.
“Let me show you.”
Her smile burst from her like a sun beam.
Job opened his eyes for a moment at the table. Father and Mama’s heads were bowed, their eyes, closed, Job assumed. As he looked, he saw the sun shining in from the window, illuminating the dust that eddied around their small home, impossible to dispel.
As he bent his head down to join his family’s prayer, he noticed, Grandma Hutto had not bowed her head. Instead she gazed at Job, a small smile in the corner of her (slightly hairy) upper lip.
Daisy and job followed the woman past rows of shelves covered in books. It was the most color Job or Daisy had ever seen. There was not just red and orange and yellow and brown, but amidst all of those, there were greens and blues! Hues they had never seen.
Job recalled a moment when Mrs. Newman taught them the names of all the colors. He had raised his hand and asked, Aren’t there any others?
No. She had replied with confidence. Not any more. And yet there was a note of something else in her voice, Job had thought. A note of something lost that jarred uncomfortably in the ear.
Now he knew what she had meant to say. These colors were beyond their world. They were beyond understanding even though you knew of them.
That was belief. Job thought, looking back down at the table in front of him. Those colors were different than knowing. They were more.
They were starting to run out of rows, and Job was beginning to worry. Then the librarian turned left into the last row of books and with a swivel, she faced them.
“These might be what you’re looking for.”
Daisy stared as the woman walked, clacking, away from them.
Job could only stare up in wonder at what the woman had left them too. Lines of books neatly leaning against one another spread across his eye line. He didn’t know where to start.
“Someday, I’d like to be her.”
Job reached out, ignoring Daisy’s statement of intent.
A book, entitled “The Grapes of Wrath” gazed out at him. Reaching out, he plucked the book from its stalk and unfurled its leaves. Daisy looked over his shoulder.
“It’s a story.”
“I think so.”
“Let’s hear it.”
They sat together against the wall, a beam of sun spreading across the pages, helping the children absorb its nutrients.
Job peeked up from the table, his eye scanning his periphery. Grandma Hutto’s gaze hadn’t let his face. Quickly he looked down again.
Daisy’s head floated down onto the edge of Job’s shoulder as he read to her. Although it was heavy, it felt nice. The only way he could tell that time was passing was by the way the light from the window shifted upward across the pages of the book, shading at first the bottom few lines until suddenly it covered the chapter headings.