First day of school. He sat alone. Last desk in the last row. No one sat near. Some held their nose when walking past him.
No books on his desk. Just an old coloring book and a red coffee can filled with crayons. Broken pieces. Naked crayons with the labels peeled off. They didn’t smell new like mine.
We called him Crayon Boy. On the playground, away from teachers, we made fun of him while waiting for our turn to jump rope. “Crayon Boy, Crayon Boy!”
I could tell he could hear us.
We did not know his real name. No one asked. I almost did but kids were watching.
His eyes were different, watery blue, sort of squinty, and too small. Back in the classroom he never looked at me, at any of us. I dared myself to stare straight at his face until he looked back. We locked our eyes. And then he smiled, a scared kind of smile that asked, please smile back. I tried … I didn’t even nod or whisper hello. He looked down at his desk, took out a fistful of crayons. One by one he broke them in two then carefully put them back into the coffee can, except one crayon. A dark blue shiny crayon, almost new, that still had its label. He held it up for me to see.
I could feel everyone watching.
I glanced away, opened my reading workbook.
Next day at school, Crayon Boy’s desk sat empty. I never saw him again.
Crayon Boy, I want to say, “I’m sorry.” Everyone needs a smile and new crayons on the first day of school.