He woke to the sight of spines. They cut through the air, reaching out to him. As his eyes focused the pad of the cactus plant merely shaded his eyes from the rough glare of the sun shining at high noon overhead. The world was green from under the thick behemoth leaf of the plant. He tried to turn over and found his back stiff and unyielding, so instead he just looked up at the cactus shading him and counted the spines; forty-two, on the underside that faced him.
In the shade beneath this larger pad, another young pad grew, its spines green and curling, fragile in youth unlike the grey darts that shot out from the scaly old pad above. A bird went soaring across the sky, a long dark shape in the brightness and suddenly Job felt a sharp pang dart all the way down his back and he yelped in pain. He grabbed for the sand beside him, but instead of the soothing warmth he expected his hand felt something cool and smooth that bunched up inside his fist and stayed. It did not drip away from him as sand but held, filling up his palm and he knew. He was not home.
Beside the sheets bunched and twisting around his arm lay a tangled length of plastic tubing no thicker than string. It spun around the twisted fabric, creating worse knots and suddenly pulled free from its deep penetration into Job’s arm. At the moment it pulled free, a loud beeping filled the room. The beeping was all. Job could only see the throbbing of the alarm. Then the pounding of feet trumping across hard dry floors and a few squeaks from rubber soles panicking took over.
Job felt hands, multiple hands grab at his arms and the sheets pulled away from his arms leaving hot burns on his forearm that would quickly fade in the sharp jab of a needle entering his wrist.
He yelled as softly as he could and leaned his head back with understanding. He didn’t need to frame the word in his mind.
As his eyes fluttered shut out of habit, one of the nurses looked back, staring with the comfort of one who knows they won’t get caught.
Job woke early. He felt for the edge of the bed with his fingertips gingerly dancing across the blanket and gripped the side of the mattress and pulled himself to the side of the bed.
Job had never been in a hospital before. Which is what made it all the more surprising when with a sudden burst of energy he yanked his lower body with all his might to the side of the bed and then shouted in shock as his legs halted suddenly against the beam that reached across the middle of the bed, keeping him from accidentally rolling onto the floor.
“Aahh!” He closed his hand over his mouth to stop the sound from alerting a nurse or doctor, but was unsuccessful.
“Is everything okay in here?” a boys voice chirped into the room.
“Fine. Fine.” Job held up his hand the universal sign that he was fine, hoping that it was raised in the right direction at least. He reached his hand down to knee and felt around it. Next to the knee he could feel the banister and a bump growing from the knock against it. But that wasn’t what had surprised him most. Of course the pain in his left knee from having bashed whole-heartedly into the other still throbbed from the jarring bone on bone contact.
What surprised was the lack of any feeling at all in his right knee. Even the fingers rubbing at the knee were half-acknowledged. He could feel the hair turning under his fingertips and the warm bruise forming, but there was no corresponding sense of his knee feeling the pressure of his fingers. Not even the slightest throb reached out to him.
Job leaned back into the pillows and sighed. He thought he would help, but instead he brought his hands to his face and screamed into them, certain another parade of young nurses and doctors would rush in. They did, breathing heavily and squabbling to ask him what was wrong.
He brought his hands from his face and sighed once more waiting for them to quiet.
“Can someone please send me a wheel chair?” he asked to the room softly.
They bustled about departing to search for a wheel chair. After only a few moments he could hear the mutter from the hallway of a nurse.