Job paused for a moment to look at the family around him. His mother, still hunching as if ever over that small corner stove. Her fork picked at her food even more delicately than Job, bringing small rodent like bites to her mouth, her lips nibbling at the pieces as if they were still too big to consume all at once. Her hair was greyish, un-brightened by silver or gold or subtle purple grey. No, her hair had gone the way of most colors and turned a plain camouflage, layers of dun and grey. Her clothes too kept up a standard color scheme with the rest. Sometimes, when she moved about the kitchen, preparing a birthday meal or on particularly clear mornings her dress would spin about on her thin waist like a dancer’s skirts twirling fantastically. At a second glance however the vision would be gone, the dress having remembered its weight and the thickness of the air surrounding it. Sitting at the table the fabric exuded no energy, just hung there like a dish rag. Job could even see small smudges of grease and food where his mother had wiped her fingertips that morning.
As if she sensed him looking at her Job’s mother looked up at him from her plate, a clump of egg speared on the end of her fork held half way to her mouth. Her eyes were the only thing of color left in her. They shone a brilliant amber brown, with drops of golden honey flecked across for added glamour. Her eyes flashed a warm glow at him before dropping back down to her plate to focus on her quiet thoughts of God.
Perhaps, Job thought, his father could help. The computer, its keys stubborn from dust built up under them was a think of immensity in their lives. Only he could touch it and when they went to bed at night or if not in use, a plastic sheet was spread over it to keep it as free of dust as possible. Sometimes, on a Saturday, Job watched his father take apart the intricate machine to clean each part and crevice. The first time he could remember seeing his father do this, Job was convinced it was a magic trick. He giggled, unable to find the right word to use to describe his wonder and amazement that his father could pull all these things from one small square. Job had reached out his hand to pick up a piece and further examine the magic, but his father’s typically soft voice rang out sharply in a gasp of panic. His father’s dry, hard hand swiped the piece from his son’s fat fingers, scraping the skin by accident. The sharp metal piece on the underside had drawn harshly against Job’s skin and broken the surface, bringing forth a fat drop of blood.
Job sat staring down at this flood in his hands, just as mesmerized. His face squinched in pain, Job had thought this was another magic trick of his father’s, but one he didn’t like so much, one that was intended to be mean. His father walked from the room, leaving Job to wonder what would come next, but his father merely swept back into the room with the sheet of plastic.
After gently tucking in the computer, his father knelt down next to Job and grabbed his finger for inspection. After a moment’s glance, he picked him up in his arms and brought him to the kitchen counter. There he ran the offending finger under water set it back in Job’s lap. When Job tried to look at the cut, his father swiped it away from him again, just like with the computer piece and Job tried to keep his face from squinching up again in pain. From a corner, his father pulled a small plastic box out, opening up its face to display the packages and bottles inside. Job stared, this time sure not to touch anything. His father grabbed a bottle and a small round puff, dabbing at the bottles opening with the puff until it was soaked in liquid. Job’s eyes enlarged and the sign of further magic, for he didn’t know there were any liquids hidden away in bottles, or even that they could be contained in such. Too surprised to flinch, Job’s finger was in his father’s hand before he knew it, and with a shock too horrible to register sharp biting needles gouged the open cut and he cried out.
His father cooed softly, but it was not enough to soothe his infants hurt. In an instant an adhesive bandage was wrapped around the cut and the finger was back in Job’s lap, but the moment was never fully forgotten or understood by either of them. The plastic cover lay atop the computer in the corner, clear and foggy, but Job looking over at it now could see the small parts and piece and could locate the one he had picked up years before. It lay there now, sterile, with no trace of ever having been touched by an intrepid three year old.