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As he came up on the familiar front porch of his house, he watched for movement from within the small window squares. Grandma sat curled over in the stove corner, but for the moment her head was bowed, whether asleep or in prayer he didn’t know. Though, he often thought there couldn’t be much difference between the two. During prayer, Mom and Dad both did the same, bowing their heads silently for great lengths of time, but they didn’t seem to derive the same pleasure from it as Grandma did. Instead they hardly looked rested at all, and Job thought maybe they’d get a whole lot more out of prayer if they were to take a little nap. Once Job had even caught Grandma rise up from prayer startled, eyes gummy and blinking and mouth open a little. It looked a little too close to waking.

So now as he approached the house, not wanting to be seen, he felt comforted by the sight of Grandma’s bowed head. Mom and Dad weren’t visible, possibly resting also, but in their room, which faced south and away from the front porch. Job walked carefully still.

Across the other side of the house, facing east, stood the shed, and it was here, Job was headed. Along the back of the shed Job had found the perfect combination of warp and coincidence in the boards of wood. Job’s father could not have predicted the extent of the warp that would take place exponentially over the years following his building of the shed, nor the danger in having set the drying racks along the back in the location he had chosen. For, even a year ago Job could not have possibly made the climb to the top of the roof, but now with almost an inch and half of height added to his small frame, Job could reach the bottom rung of the rack and pull himself up to the next rung by placing the tip of his boot on the warped beam near the corner and so on until he’d made it to the roof of the shed where no one could see him unless they were looking. And who would look unless they knew there was something so see? And there was nothing to see, most days.

At once he was upon the open field of dirt in front of the house. The one hiding spot, a particularly healthy palm which splayed its fingers like fan to absorb as much of the light as possible. The accordion ridges of the palm’s fan brought with it some danger of being caught as a brush against its ribs could send a tremble of low music across the front yard. If anyone were outside, they would hear the thrumming of the palm and would certainly look over and see him, standing behind it, for the palm was tall, but thin having to conserve all its growth for gathering its most reliable source of nutrients, the light. Soil was only a means of staying place for the plant.

Placing one foot before the other as careful to keep the surface of the earth as still as possible without raising the telltale puff of his approach. With heavy boots, this created a matter of poise Job had built up over a few years of sneaking about unseen. Slowly, his heart beating double time to make up for the fearfully slow progress to the palm bush, Job inched forward one step at a time. Every few steps, he looked over at the house, waiting for a movement from within to ruin his encroachment on the shed roof. A few steps now from the palm tree, Job looked over at the house, the stillness still complete, but he rushed over in a few pounding steps to increase the drama of the moment.

 

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