Muhammad zoomed his wheelchair into his bedroom. The boy's parents asked from down the hall if he enjoyed the Last Day of School Festival. "It was great!" the eight-year-old shouted. "I won a wind-up dog at the ring toss booth!" He pulled the fuzzy white and brown toy from his feeding pump backpack. The wind-up dog's mouth held a string fastened to a red plastic ball. A metal winding key attached under the pup's belly. Muhammad placed the mechanical terrier on a shelf containing an odd cast of players: a well-worn antique baseball glove, a patchwork bear with sawdust stuffing, a miniature ship in a bottle, a basketball participation trophy, and an air-powered jumping robot.
"Everything is loaded for vacay," Muhammad's moms called. "Pick a toy for the trip and let's go have fun!" Muhammad reached to the shelf above for Major Smith O'Reens, a large scale action figure soldier-of-fortune with a chiseled chin, wearing a frogman diving suit. The boy cheered as he raced out the door. His room became silent after the van pulled away. Now that the ball chasing toy belonged to a child it sparked to life. The puppy felt a pain inside and wondered if a spring had broken or a screw came loose. Then the wind-up dog thought, This must be how lonely feels.