"What do you want to be when you grow up?" the teacher asks, looking around at the class.
"A pilot," says the kid two children over.
Jules thinks about pilots and starships, and the sound that stars must make in the sky when they talk to each other.
"Jules?" the teacher prompts.
"A flute," he says, and when the other kids laugh he smiles at them, pleased to have gotten that one right.
The teacher gives him a look he can't interpret, and then moves on to Chloe, sitting on his other side. "A doctor," she says, and Jules tries to figure out how that makes sense.
He gives up trying when the teacher smiles and says, "Very admirable."
"How was school today, Jules?" his mother asks, and Jules smiles at her around the mouthful of biscuit.
She holds up a hand for him, and he knows that that means he should finish chewing before he answers. He dutifully does so. "It was good. Kukalaka was in a tree but a teacher got him down for me."
He takes the pained look from her as time to have another bite of the biscuit. The caramel sticks in his teeth, but that's fine. "How did Kukalaka get in a tree?"
Jules shrugs. "Maybe he flew."
She studies his face, and he blinks back at her. "Jules... Maybe you shouldn't bring Kukalaka to school any longer."
"No," Jules says.
"He's clearly distracting you from paying attention."
"No," he says again, because that's all he can think of to say, and that's all he should say.
"He's a ratty toy, Jules, and you're being picked on because of him!"
Jules looks at her, looks at Kukalaka sitting in the window so he won't get food on him, and looks at the biscuits. Then he looks at her again, before he shakes his hands to let crumbs fall out and plucks Kukalaka off of where he sits.
"Jules, stay where you are," his mother snaps at him.
Jules looks away from her into Kukalaka's eyes. He can fix Kukalaka, could make him stop bleeding white, but he doesn't know what to do with his mother's anger, or her disappointment in him. He stays, like she says, but nothing she says really makes sense.