They carry backpacks almost as large as they are. The look is deceiving, as the bags themselves are nearly empty. A matching lunchbox, and then a warming expanse of unfilled space beneath fabric that in the months to come will swell to bursting like a balloon — with artwork and library books, forms and files. The tender detritus of these first gentle days in the current.

One is purple. An elegant flamingo stitched along its flank. The other is an electric green, replete with a rainbowed gecko straddling its back. Small creatures, vivid with energy and detail, not yet worn or diminished by the passage of time and seasons.

All things fade, in time. But today, this morning, they are clean and crisp and perfect: a source of pride and worthy of admiration as they are paraded up the path, through the woods and beyond to the new world. Each step a bounce; a bound, really, as their eagerness and excitement is sped by the tightly-knotted, immaculate new shoes they had chosen themselves the previous weekend. “These are fast sneakers,” they claimed. They were right.

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