“You know, for the other team, if we added you. Then one would be outnumbered. Or we’d have to let someone sit it out to fit you in.” Nathan explained it all with a pained look on his face, sorry to embarrass Job with the obvious problems this unexpected addition posed to the equality of their group. Nathan could see the social problem, but the issue expressed itself neatly as a problem of logistics, of order and balance all the more valuable in the impossibly asymmetrical environment that reached out an aura of loose, dry soil and rocky terrain behind Job’s figure.
“Sorry.” Nathan tacked on to his small speech. “You could maybe watch us play the game.”Nathan lamely added at the end. A consolation for the cruelty of being left out he had no idea how much more left out that would feel to sit on the side lines with a clear view of the fun others were allowed to participate in. For he had never been left out before and didn’t really know how to make such a thing better.
“Oh. No, that’s alright. I probably wouldn’t know how to play well.”
Nathan shrugged and the thought crossed his mind that offering again to let him watch might mean Job could learn how the game was played, might even get good at it, but behind him he could hear the sigh of relief from someone, and it sounded so nice, Nathan wanted to have that relief for himself.
“Okay, Job. See you tomorrow in school, then.” And without a glance back he and the others crossed the trench between the hill and the road, kicking up the white floury build up that had landed there over years of feet kicking along the road. Job, however watched them walk away from him. After a few steps they became themselves again, a community, patting backs and flicking ears for the fun of being chased. Watching them, Job’s stomach flipped over, weightless and empty. He made himself stop watching their progress towards the circle and wondered half in fear and hope if they wouldn’t take notice of the small rock missing from the group.
He didn’t feel like going back home, but where else was there for him to go?