The boy with a clock on his back can’t hear the ticking but feels the motion of the hands’ movement as he walks down the alley, walks on mud-covered cobbles but doesn’t leave footprints, nothing to say he’s been here until he steps into the puddle that’s been waiting for him, where he leaves short-lived ripples and waves on the water, making the sky and walls reflected on the surface shimmer as though they were on fire for one brief moment, but he doesn’t notice this or that his shoes are now wet, he only sees the line where alley and plaza meet, the door-goal on the other side, while he prays silently to do this one thing right today, to be safe from the burning scorn and ridicule that drip from his mother’s mouth like a rabid dog’s foam-flecked blind anger, to be a good and acceptable son, to be on time.