"Thine eyes did see my embryo, yet being unformed; and in Thy Book all the days
ordained for me were written down, when as yet there were none of them."
It's funny how the mind works as we age; I feel the same now as I did last year, and the year before that, but I am sure that I must look differently, act differently. A decade has passed since the day I came to be, and the Teacher has told me that he has for me a surprise, something to commemorate my decade in service to him and to the school and to God. For some reason that I myself can't completely comprehend, I am hiding now in the cupboard to postpone this surprise, and I hear the beadle shouting my name. I would be perfectly fine even in considerably cramped quarters, if only the cupboard were slightly larger than myself. I think bits of me are scraping off on the walls and gathering in little piles of flesh-colored powder on the floor. Just my imagination, I expect.
I am being silly, and should go about my day as I normally would. The surprise, I am told, will not be awarded until sundown anyway, so it would be sinful to shirk my duties. The sun will rise now in six minutes, so I should go and get ready for the day. I have been instructed by the beadle to sweep out the dust from the streets, and I expect that such a task will occupy me at least until lunchtime. Yesterday, the beadle's wife made soup, in the most beautifully patterned earthenware bowls from the north. But the beadle got angry again, said I wasn't to eat with them, and cast me out, back to the school.
I don't mind; both the beadle and his wife, indeed, everyone I've met here, are lovely people. My teacher has said that I am his masterpiece, and, although I have not learned to recite the readings from the Good Book as have the other students, he still spends time only with me and provides shelter only for me. I've noticed that the other students do not stay in the school when the day is done, but leave and scatter to several different buildings. Yet they all return, come to my home on the new day, even though I am not permitted to go to theirs.
They are older than me, and I think that is why they do not play with me in the yard, why I may sit in class and try to learn, but may not answer the teacher's questions or make known my presence. It's funny, really: sitting quietly in the back row, I sometimes forget where I am entirely and fall asleep, only to be wakened later in the evening when the teacher is calling my name in a frenzy through the halls. "Joseph! Joseph! Have you run off, Joseph?" And then I tell him where I am, and he whirls around and opens his eyes so that he may see me, and then it is time to sleep.
There is a great day-table in the school, it records the passing of time, like a large stone clock with no hands or movement. I do not know how to read the words on the tablet, but I have counted the passing of the days and revel in the little patterns and designs I can pick up. The children come to school five times in a row, on five days in the morning. It is tiring to watch them learn, to watch the teacher answer the same questions every day, and when the period is over I sleep. Mostly, however, I wait for the week to be reborn so that I may learn more, when I am not busy doing tasks around the school for the teacher and for the beadle, like cleaning or mending or guarding.
Today, the children are about to leave for the last time for a few sunsets. Teacher is discussing the history of mankind, and it is very relaxing to sit silently in the back, unseen, and to contemplate how I was formed, alike in manner to the very first people, and how I shall never die. The disc of the sun sinks in the window, but is not yet setting, like a coin falling very, very slowly into a vast pool just beyond the hills, and it warms my arm, which is on the sill, until it feels like flesh. The children are gone, and the sun is starting to set, and I now must go to Our Teacher to be put to sleep for a while. I have learned much today, and am very sleepy. Although I do not realize it, the Teacher has joined me in the empty schoolroom, and I find myself welcoming whatever is in store for my birthday, as I am weary. The Teacher's finger feels soft and hot on my brow, and Rabbi Loew's touch is kind and loving as he tearfully rubs his thumb across the plane of my forehead.