I look down at it, and the words blur for me. I try to unscramble them, but it’s too hard. I shove the board back toward him. He narrows his eyes at me and scrubs the board clean. He writes one word and turns it around. You, it says. He points to me. I point to myself. “Me?” He nods and swipes the board clean. He writes another word and shows it to me. “Can’t,” I say. He nods and writes another word. He’s spacing the letters far enough apart that they’re not jumbled together in my head, but it’s still hard. My lips falter over the last word, but I say, “Read.” Then I realize that I just told him I can’t read. “Wait! I can read!” I protest. He writes another word: Well. He knows I can read. Air escapes me in a big, gratified rush. “I can read,” I repeat. “I can’t read well, but…” I let my words trail off. He nods quickly, as though he’s telling me he understands. He points to me and then at the board, moving two fingers over it like a pair of eyes, and then he gives me a thumbs-up. My heart is beating so fast it’s hard to breathe. I read the damn words, didn’t I? “At least I can talk!” I say. I want to take the words back as soon as they leave my lips, but it’s too late. I slap a hand over my lips when his face falls. He shakes his head, bites his lip, and gets up. “I’m sorry,” I say. I am. I really am. He walks away, but he doesn’t take his backpack with him.