The Book of Voices

Biblical Microfictions by Joseph Zitt

Isaac

(Context: Genesis 27:1)

I sit. I sit and I listen. This is my life. Sometimes I move. Sometimes I am moved to action. Frenzies may surround me. Change may erupt around me. Emotions may disrupt my family. I choose to be the still center. I sit.

I breathe the flavors of the air. I listen to the sounds around me. I catalog my perceptions.
From the fields: The bleating of goats. The voices of goatherds. The footsteps of goats and goatherds in the wet grass. The scent of newly-grazed grass after afternoon rain. The smell of goats and goatherds, hair still matted from the rain.

From the kitchen: Bread baking. Venison roasting over fire. The fire crackling, sounding so much like Rebecca’s lips when she smiles near me. The fire, sounding so much like the rain. The voices of my family: Rebecca and Jacob as they cook the venison that Esau has brought. It is good that my family works together. Jacob lacks the attention to hunt. Esau lacks the patience to cook. Rebecca sees the truth in things. She manages the family. Everything works. I sit.

I listen. I say little. When I speak too much, I get things wrong. So I am silent. I speak when needed. I speak when asked.

Esau has asked for a blessing. He will have a blessing. I have sent him to the fields to hunt. I sit and think as he hunts. I construct a careful blessing.

Jacob rarely asks for anything. Jacob rarely speaks to me. He speaks only to his mother. Esau only speaks to me. He speaks rarely to his mother. But things work well. What needs to be said is said. What needs to be heard is heard.

I had a big brother once. We spoke. We played. We wrestled in the fields. He ran faster than me. He was smarter than me. Then he was gone. My mother said that God wanted him gone. She said that I was saying bad things that my brother taught me. She said that my brother was bad for me. I wondered what I had done wrong. I wondered what I had said that made them send him away. I wondered why people always laughed when they talked about me.

Then my father took me to the mountain. He said that it was time for me to go away. He said that it was time to join God. He tied me up. He raised his knife. I trusted that he knew what he was doing. Then he killed a ram. He untied me and we walked home. When we got home, my mother was dead. My mother was gone. After that, he rarely spoke to me. He only spoke to God. I never knew why he tied me up. I never knew why he untied me. I never knew what I had done wrong.

His servant went away for a while. He brought Rebecca home. They said she would be my wife. She became my wife.

Then my father died. I found out that my brother was alive. He came home once to help me bury my father. We only spoke a little. He said that I had made them send him away. He wanted to know what I had done. I did not know what I had done wrong. He went away. We never spoke again. I hear that he has died.

My life goes well. Rebecca runs the household. We raise our flocks where we find grass and water. We move when famine comes. We rarely have trouble.

In the last famine, we moved to Gerar. The people there saw that Rebecca is beautiful. They asked me about her. I told them exactly what my father told people about my mother. But I got it wrong. They got angry. We had to go away. And Rebecca got angry. Now she runs things herself. She no longer asks me how to run our business. She no longer asks me how to run our house. She runs things herself. She runs things well. I sit.

I hear the tent flap from the kitchen to this room drawing back. The scent of dinner is growing stronger. I hear my son approaching. I hear the brushing of the skins that Esau wears. I hear the feet shuffle like Jacob’s. I only seem to hear one person. As the food is placed before me, I sense a scent that could be both of them. Perhaps they have arrived together. Perhaps Jacob is eager to hear me bless Esau. Perhaps Rebecca has gotten them to work together well.

And perhaps I have gotten things wrong. But I will trust my family. I will listen. I will eat. I will bless my son. And I will continue to sit.

(Next: Ahab.)

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July 27, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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