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 (one that rebelled against the conservative social norms in town - we had decided on forming the group after sneaking To Kill A Mockingbird from the public library) 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, the group's 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 small modular 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 it, 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, in which he said only two words - "hello", and "I'm Ezra", two, when he accidentally spilled his orange juice on Ellis Walters, who happened to be the big football jock in our class, times three and four being discussions with the teacher about politics in Syria (I overheard - spying is a harsh term). The fifth reason would be the death of him.