He packed his new pencils (house brand) and crayons (cheap thick ones) into his hand-me-down backpack, his name written in black across the brown paper covering thin books. He polished his new, hard shoes that felt like stale marshmallows and the future. Pulled up his scratchy nylon socks and got ready to face the world with his gappy smile and excited eyes. Held tight to his mother’s hand in the taxi, excitement threatening to bubble into tears.

King of the world in proud shiny shoes and square shoulders going out into a world with cruelty and unkindness on its breath.