When Ezra Jones moved to our small, Southern suburban neighborhood, he was a splash of paint on our blank white canvas. He had smooth, black skin covered in scabs that he often liked to pick and squeeze, and even my family thought of him as a blood-obsessed eccentric - he liked nature, he liked the color white, and the only thing anybody knew about him besides what we had observed on our own was the information announced on his first day of class at Lumpkin Middle --
“Please welcome Ezra Jones.” Mrs. O’Nelly had said. “He’s a refugee from Syria. Can anyone tell me what is going on in Syria right now?”
Some of our class labeled him as an emotionally distressed orphan, but our small society of Democrats was convinced of the fact that he was secretly a war-struck peace activist adopted by the Jones’ to prove a point: our white as frick neighborhood needed to learn that people of color were people. And to be honest, if we thought those were their only intentions, they were probably right. Even to this date, our rampant imaginations gave birth to strange theories that his family had been immolated or shot and killed; but he never spoke of those sorts of things.
Instead, he would sit in the front of the class, his mouth glued shut. When he did speak, it would usually be either to politely apologize, or to say thank you; I was considered lucky enough to hear his voice - the members of the secret society begged me to describe his voice, which I now realize was creepy as hell, but the only description I could offer was deep and scratchy.
Throughout the entire eighth grade, there were only five incidents when he spoke; one, when our teacher announced his arrival, two, when he accidentally spilled his orange juice on Ellis Walters, times three and four being discussions with the teacher. The fifth reason would be the death of him.