The pothole was an open sore on the scabbed road. Justin walked around it and hitched his book bag high on his shoulder so the trailing ends of the straps wouldn’t drag in the pool of mud and stain his crisply starched school shirt and pants. He had spent half an hour ironing his uniform that morning. He was careful, too, to step where his clean black suede Clarks would stay store-fresh, away from the orange-brown sludge left by rain on the roughly paved ground. It was 8:15 and he wouldn’t have time to clean the boots again before he got to school. The first bell had already gone, he knew. Lichelle was lagging; he gave her hand a little tug and she sped up behind him.