My Thoughts: The Nickel Boys

I owned The Nickel Boys for months before I dared read it, because I was afraid that it would be too heavy to engage with in the middle of an already challenging semester. I thought it would rip me apart and break my heart with all its potential horror. After reading it finally over break, I don’t know how else to say this, but it turns out that The Nickel Boys was not nearly as harrowing as I expected. Although I consider it a good read, I don’t feel anything particularly strongly about it.

148F5644-75CB-41D3-A8E5-271F50EE5C4EFor those unfamiliar, the book is about a boarding school in Florida that operates more like a detainment center for delinquent boys than an institute of education. Neither teachers nor administrators give a whit about the wellbeing of the boys. I don’t know whether the book really was written in a way that wasn’t as painful as I expected, or if my relative stoicism came from myself, being familiar with Ghanaian boys’ boarding house horror stories. The Nickel Academy certainly felt awful, but not even close to unimaginably so. Only once while reading do I recall being stunned enough to pause and reevaluate my decision to keep reading.

The Nickel Boys was my second ever Colson Whitehead read. The first was The Underground Railroad, which I read in 2018. The Underground Railroad was a bit of a publishing hit. Before all the publicity of its release, I didn’t even know who Colson Whitehead was. I suspect that book’s success was both a good thing and a bad thing for The Nickel Boys, published in its shadow. The fortunate part is that after the preceding book’s popularity, people were eager to get their hands on The Nickel Boys. The unfortunate consequence, though, is that too many people seem to want to interpret The Nickel Boys as another Underground Railroad­­­—essentially another American slavery novel—whereas I think it just isn’t

My reading experiences between The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad were vastly different. I experienced the former to be better than the latter, both in relevance and enjoyability. While I remember thinking The Underground Railroad was full of Black academic jargon that I only recognized because I myself am an Africana Studies major, The Nickel Boys used simple language which was beautifully lyrical while being easy to work through. The book itself was brief, but I also read it very fast in the way I can only do when I am able to swim through the writing style with barely any resistance. Additionally, there are many, many books about American slavery, both in fiction and nonfiction. But a topic such as this—the Nickel Academy being based off the very real Dozier School for Boys—is not one that you come across often. That alone made the subject matter more interesting for me.

I came across quite a number of The Nickel Boys reviews that treated it as a slavery novel, and for the life of me, after reading it, I couldn’t see it as one, no matter what the critics said. The main characters are certainly Black, and a significant portion of the time setting is the Civil Rights Era. The experiences of Elwood and Turner are definitely horrifying and the circumstances by which they landed in the Nickel Academy were specifically racial. But if the novel must be treated as a critique, I see it as more of a critique on the US’s way of dealing (or not dealing) with delinquency—or what a dysfunctional system thinks delinquency is—than of slavery or racism. The Nickel Academy, though segregated, is a house of horrors for unfortunate teenage boys, Black, white, and in Jaimie’s case, Mexican. Although the main character, Elwood, is Black, and his story and his friend Turner’s are consequently stories of Black horror, the Nickel Academy itself does not value any demographic of its boys. It’s a downright awful institution for all enrolled in it. If the novel must have a moral, I’d say it was this: something is very, very wrong with human beings. Too many characters seem to derive pleasure from gratuitous cruelty and operate with a stunning disregard for the value of life.

I have some idea of why some critics so badly want to turn this into a slavery novel, but I do not think The Nickel Boys becomes any less relevant than The Underground Railroad even if it is not explicitly about race. Sometimes, books suffer unreasonably from the shadows of their predecessors or the reputations of their writers.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book, which showcases Colson Whitehead’s classical wit (and I’ve experienced him in person so I can verify that he’s hilarious):

“His constant dorm reassignments notwithstanding, Jaimie kept a quiet profile and conducted himself in accordance with the Nickel handbook’s rules of conduct—a miracle, since no one had ever seen the handbook despite its constant invocations by the staff. Like justice, it existed in theory.”

-Akotz the Spider Kid

BTW, follow my reading-dedicated Instagram account, @SpiderKidReads!

Afordzi (A Short Story)

AfordziFlier

Edem had breached her agreement. She was now suffering the consequences, paying her penalties through nausea, sweat and convulsions. She had already spent several hours going back and forth between her bed and her trash can, dry-heaving over the latter for minutes at a time. She felt like she was going to die.

Whatever was wrong with her was not a job for a physician, especially not an American one. The diagnosis was certain to be incorrect, her symptoms erroneously summarized as a reaction to an as-yet-unidentified allergen. There was no medicine that could intervene on Edem’s behalf. This kind of sickness could only be endured, not cured. So she waited, entertaining no anger and succumbing to the exhaustion. She would bear the cross, for she had brought it upon herself.

In the part of her brain that was still capable of rational thought, she calculated that she had perhaps twenty minutes more of this torture to sit through. She wished she would pass out and wake up an hour later, when there was nothing left to suffer but the residual ache of her diaphragm – but unconsciousness was not one of the mercies available to those in her strain of practice.

Yet, for all the pain and suffering, did she regret a single thing she had done?

Without a doubt, absolutely, certainly, not.

***

The bathroom didn’t look any different than usual. The toiletries haphazardly packed into the cubicles were perpetually threatening to avalanche. The half-drawn shower curtain afforded a glimpse of the shower’s floor tiles, upon which clumps of brown and blond hair were scattered. The puddles of water around the sink basins, contaminated with strands of hair, toothpaste and only-God-knew-what-else, were in the process of congealing into discolored masses of goo.

You had to love gender-neutral, communal bathrooms.

The tidiness of the bathroom had never been a prevalent issue in Paul’s mind. Whatever his purpose in there, the only thing that ever side-tracked him for a second was the mirror. He had an instinctive ritual of stopping and staring for a few seconds at his reflection whenever he came in, briefly absorbing his green eyes and curly, light-brown hair before carrying on with his business.

The image of his own face lingered in Paul’s mind as he walked into a toilet stall and neglected to close the door. Thus, it escaped his notice when the click of the lock sliding into place sounded anyway. With the automatic familiarity of a boy who had been executing the same motions quite literally since he was potty-trained, he unzipped his fly, pulled out his dick, and the steady spray of yellow-orange liquid began.

BEEP!

Penis detected. Activating automatic male urination sequence.

The deep, female voice startled Paul to his core. He jerked so violently that he lost hold of his penis before he had the chance to consciously pause the spraying. The stream of urine deviated from its graceful, arched course and splattered onto the toilet seat, in the very same moment that the seat itself instantaneously lifted without being touched, completely confusing the urine’s trajectory. Before Paul knew it, he’d been splashed on his face, arms and clothes. The stall’s walls and door hadn’t escaped the shower either.

Eugh!” he yelled.

Targeted urine stream no longer detected. Automatic male urination sequence paused,” said the voice. It seemed to be coming from all around the bathroom at once, vibrating in the very walls, floors and ceilings.

With his penis still dangling outside his shorts, Paul spun in every direction, searching for a speaker or hologram or something – any telltale signs of the source of either speech or telekinesis.

He confirmed, to his terror, that he was completely alone. Immediately, his skin transformed into gooseflesh and his mind went static. He grabbed the stall door and yanked it. It rattled in response but didn’t open. He gave the lock a rough jerk, but it remained fixed in place no matter how frantically he pulled and shoved.

Exit denied. Sanitation levels insufficient. Kindly sanitize and try again.

Panicking harder, Paul continued to jiggle the hopelessly locked door.

Exit denied. Sanitation levels insufficient. Kindly sanitize and try again.

Near tears, Paul gave up on the door and exhaled. He leaned his back against it, having forgotten that it too held droplets of his urine, which the back of his head and shirt were now soaking in. Despairing, he closed his eyes. His breaths had become quick and shallow. For several minutes, he was entirely at a loss for what to do, or how to even begin understanding what was happening.

Sanitation levels insufficient. Kindly sanitize and try again.

Instantly, his fear of the disembodied voice with the weird African accent was completely replaced by fury and frustration. He pounded on the door behind him with his fists as he bellowed, “The fuck am I supposed to ‘sanitize’ with, bitch?”

In the most infuriatingly calm and levelled tone, the voice responded: “Processing inquiry.” Then, after a beat, “The user will find disinfectant wipes on the floor, to the right of the toilet.

Paul was initially so startled by the fact that he’d received a response at all, that he was unable to process its content.

It took a few more minutes for him to let go of the notion that this was merely a dream. He really was locked in a toilet stall, listening to an African Robot Ghost Woman trying to tell him what to do. This realization stunned him all over again, so that for even longer, he could only stand still and process.

Finally, when he made mental progress, he thought to himself: The ghost girl said there were wipes at the…

He looked down and, to his intense surprise, found a packet of disinfectant wipes exactly where the Robot Ghost Woman said they’d be. He could have sworn those hadn’t always been in here. (Not that he’d ever tried to find any before.)

With the sluggishness of a creature unexpectedly caught in viscous liquid, he bent down to grab a handful, lowered the toilet seat, and began to clean. When he was done, he dropped the used wipes into the toilet, then gingerly stepped back and waited. Nothing unexpected happened. He reached out and barely brushed the flush handle with his index, quickly snatching it away as though electrically shocked. Still, no unexpected phenomena. Finally judging it a safe action, Paul placed his palm on the handle with a little more confidence, and applied pressure. The urine and the wipe disappeared with a wholesome swoosh.

Without prompt, the lock slider slowly grated to the left with the squeak of metal-on-metal, and the door swung open. Paul whirled and bolted like the devil herself was after him. Fast as he ran, though, the bathroom door didn’t shut soon enough for him to miss hearing the voice say, “Initiating thorough self-sanitation sequence…

It would be a while before Paul recovered enough to realize he’d run off with his fly still unzipped and his penis still hanging out of his shorts.

***

Ryan was going to be late. Again. He knew it the moment he set his ass down to take a shit, fifteen minutes before his class was supposed to begin, in a building as far away from his dorm as it was physically possible to get, within campus limits. If he left this very second and ran, he’d probably just be able to make it. After all, it wasn’t a huge college. The problem was, of course, his desperate need to poop.

Ryan was a dumbass, and he knew it. How many times had Alison told him last night not to eat the spicy Indian food? How many times had she told him he’d be better off with some slices of pepperoni pizza or a bowl of Caesar salad? But noooo, he’d wanted the rice with the sauces whose names he couldn’t even pronounce, and the samosas which, after every bite, he’d had to chug cold water to keep from exploding into grains of White pepper. Instead of heeding Ali’s wisdom, he’d decided to be an idiot instead. Now, the universe was teaching him a lesson.

There were long periods of silence. Then sudden bursts of splrrrbrrrsplaplapsplrrr, like somebody was emptying thick marinara sauce very loudly down a sink. Ryan didn’t even want to look at the half-liquid mess of badly-processed excrement coming out of him right now. He just wanted all this to be over with, so he could go to class. His GPA was at stake.

Ryan was a pretty good student, but his tardiness was very rapidly working against him – not to mention his case wasn’t being helped in the least by the glares Ms. Martinez gave him every time he walked into the room in the middle of her sentences. If there was one thing Ms. Martinez detested, it was interruption.

Ten minutes had passed now, and that was enough time for Ryan’s nose to have grown used to the pungency. A few minutes later, finally, it was over.

He wiped his ass and rose, and then, carefully avoiding examination of the toilet bowl’s contents, he flushed in one swift, fluid motion. He turned to leave, but the door’s lock refused to budge.

Goddamn it! It was literally the worst possible time to get accidentally locked in a fucking bathroom! Imagine having to text an RA to come bail you out from the toilet. And if there had ever been a chance of redemption with Ms. Martinez, he’d sure as hell blown—

Exit denied. Flush state unsatisfactory. Kindly flush again.

Holy fucking shit. Where had that come from?

For a second, he thought he was hallucinating. It wouldn’t be an unusual occurrence for him, and admittedly, he’d gotten slightly high last night. But his hallucinations never carried on until the morning after. And he’d bet his ass that even his subconscious wouldn’t know how to conjure up such a thick African accent. Nah, he couldn’t be tripping.

Ryan continued jimmying the lock, thinking maybe he unintentionally fumbled the first time. The door stayed shut, the lock remained immobile.

Exit denied. Flush state unsatisfactory. Kindly flush again.”

What? What was the mechanical voice saying? And where the hell was it coming from? Ryan looked around and found signs of neither person nor machine.

It suddenly occurred to him that this was a scene straight out of a spy film, and he was a suspect of some sort of heinous crime. Some intelligence company had clearly been monitoring his every move with surveillance equipment and was now trying to intimidate him into confessing. It was the thought of someone sitting behind a desk, watching him shit, that provoked his hysteria.

“Oh my God, get me out of here! Fucking CIA! I swear it wasn’t me! I didn’t do anything! Get me out of here!” he screamed.

He hadn’t truly expected an answer, so he was partially sobered when he heard the disembodied voice respond, “Processing request…” Then, a moment later, “Request denied. Flush levels unsatisfactory. Kindly flush again.

“Argh!” Ryan yelled. What was she even on about?

He ran his hands over his face, and tangled his fingers in his long, messy, blond hair. His eyes rolled up into his head, his natural response whenever he felt like he was losing his mind.

Flush levels unsatisfactory. Kindly flush again.

Kindly…flush again?

His eyelids snapped open, and his gaze settled on the contents of the toilet. He had flushed his excrement, but thanks to the sheer amount of initial shit and its weird solid-liquid state, even after the first flush, several tiny pieces of poop had resurfaced and were now floating about in the bowl, and the toilet water had turned a sickly yellow-brown. He was disgusted by the sight.

I could have gone my whole week without having to know what that looked like, he thought to himself. He inhaled and exhaled deeply as the stupid spy machine’s voice reminded him, “Kindly flush again.

“Okay, okay! I heard you the first five hundred fucking times! I’m flushing, God!”

He yanked the handle again, and the loud sucking mechanisms drained the toilet bowl of its contents. This time, the water that refilled the bowl was clear, and stayed that way. When the toilet once again fell silent, the voice returned.

Flush levels sufficient. Exit granted.”

Behind Ryan, the locked door opened itself up, granting unhindered passage out of the bathroom.

As fast as he could, Ryan sprinted to class, trying to avoid admitting to himself that there was zero hope of salvation with Ms. Martinez now.

***

Someone was knocking on Liam’s door at one a.m. It was a good thing for them that Liam never slept early. He had been in the middle of resolving the bugs in his latest programming assignment when he got up to find out who could possibly be visiting past midnight, and wondering if he’d have to call an ambulance.

Paul?” Liam asked, astonished. “What are you doing here? Don’t you, like, crash by ten every night?”

His friend seemed distraught and his face was filled with some other disturbing emotion that Liam was having a hard time defining.

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Paul panted. “But hey, I have to ask you a favor. Can I, like, use your bathroom?”

“Use my bathroom?”

“Yeah. It’s, um, kind of urgent.”

Liam had one of the most coveted dorm rooms on campus – unsurprising, since he was an RA. Not only was it a single, but it also had its own unique bathroom, something Liam’s friends were wildly envious of.

“Bro, did you seriously just get up after midnight, walk past the bathroom in your hall, ignore literally every other bathroom in your dorm, cross the street to get to my dorm, and come all the way to the fourth floor, to use my fucking bathroom?”

“Listen, Liam, it’s complicated. Just, please, can I use your bathroom?” Paul looked like he was on the verge of a breakdown.

“Okay, whatever, weirdo. Sheesh.”

Liam stepped aside, and Paul rushed in.

Well if he needed to go that bad, why’d he come all the way here, Liam thought to himself.

Right before Liam shut the door, a black girl with an Afro and a curious mark on her cheek passed by on her way to the elevator, clutching a stack of folders. Liam recognized her. She was African. From Ghana, if he remembered correctly. Their paths crossed on campus sometimes because they had a major in common, though they hadn’t yet been in a class together. Some of his friends had, though, and they told him she was a computer science genius. From a distance, he’d always found her intensity intriguing.

Right before the door obscured his view of her, he thought he saw the African girl crack a half-smile. Since he couldn’t figure out what would have given her a reason to, he dismissed it as a figment of his imagination.

***

Edem had caught a snippet of the conversation between Paul and the RA boy as she was returning from her meeting with her CS partner. After working for hours, they had finally called it a night, assured that their presentation the following morning would not be a total flop-fest.

All day, she had been waiting for a letter from her teachers back home; those who had initiated her in the traditions of African Electronics and had made her promise not to misuse her skills. In addition to the consequences that were already woven into the fabric of the art itself, there were usually extra punishment doted out by the elders. She’d been preparing to receive hers all day, but so far, nothing had come.

Distressed and paranoid, she picked up her phone and called Fafali, the sexagenarian Anlo woman who was both her mentor and the elder she had the best personal relationship with. She wasn’t worried about the time; it might be late in Texas, but in her GMT zone, Fafali would already be up and on the go by now.

Fafali picked up a half-second through the first ring – she always knew when a phone call was coming – and didn’t bother wasting time with pleasantries.

“Let me guess: you’re wondering why you haven’t received notification from the elders, even though you know we are surely aware of what you’ve done,” Fafali said in rapid Ewe.

“Yes, Aunty.”

Fafali’s reply was saturated with impatience. “Well, for Mawu’s sake, someone had to put the fear of the gods in them! How can you be twenty years old and so deprived of home training?”

Edem was stunned. “Ah, Aunty, wait oo. You’re saying I’m not getting punished when I come home for the break?”

“Sweetie pie, your program wasn’t nearly severe enough to cause any brain damage. We’ve pronounced your distin resolved already. Cool your heart and go to bed, eh? It will not be good for you to be sleepy in your classes today. You better take your studies seriously, otherwise, you should really start getting fearful of returning home.”

“Yes Aunty! I’ll go to bed right now. Akpe lo! My regards to the elders.”

“Goodnight, eh. And may your afɔdzi never cause you that kind of stress again.”

***

Find more Spider Kid fiction here: On the Ceiling (a YA short story series) & If I Could Kill My Feelings… (a novelette).

Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Yes, I finished the series! Now I can end the year in peace!

(Update: individual OTC stories are no longer available, but you can download them all in a single PDF collection on my OTC site.)

Back of Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Snippet below:

Kuukua and the Killjoy Kente

Charlotte was on the ceiling of Mr. Dotse’s office. I didn’t understand how she had become so brazen, risking being seen by someone random. She had already surprised me enough a few months ago by deciding to befriend my roommate, Nana Konamah, but that, at least, was understandable; it was only decent to make sure someone knew all their roommates, human and non-human alike. But as for my school principal dier, I had no idea why Charlotte was frolicking so freely in his presence.

I was so tense about Charlotte being seen that I almost forgot the true reason for my anxiety: the fear that I was in some sort of trouble. There weren’t many other reasons I knew for students to get called into the principal’s office in the middle of the week. I almost felt like I did whenever I heard my mother yelling “KUUKUA ANNAN!”  from downstairs, a surefire sign that I was in deep trouble. Now, I was trying to backtrack, see if I’d done anything worthy of being summoned by Mr. Dotse. The closest I had come to punishable trouble was yesterday’s skirmish with Ken, but as far as I knew, no teachers or staff had been around to witness that.

Ken, my classmate formerly known as Kennedy, had been getting on my nerves lately. This semester, I’d realized something about being in boarding school: annoying people start feeling more annoying, not because they’re becoming worse, but because you can never really go home from them. It had been easier for me to ignore Kennedy during JSS. Now that he’d transformed into “Ken” and I had to see him in the hostels even after school had closed, my tolerance seemed to be withering. It was as if nothing could properly humble him, not the trick Yaw and I had played on him during the long vac, nor the way our seniors treated him here. As soon as he got over anything, it was right back to the my-father-is-richer-than-yours attitude, and it irritated the hell out of me.

The exams this semester had rocked him roff, and it was as if he didn’t know how to deal with it in any other way than complaining plenty. Yesterday, he’d been making strings of ridiculous jokes about how if he could have his way, he’d have left school long time, just that he was afraid of ending up career-wise something “wack” like a mechanic or a carpenter.

Maybe it was the stress of exam week and sleep deprivation thanks to everyone who had been demanding my assistance with maths and physics over the past few weeks, or the fact that my Ananse training hadn’t been allowed to slack a bit even during the exam period. Or maybe it was the synchronized nightmares Yaw and I were having. Either way, the very second after Ken passed his comment, I was already getting ready to slap him.

I stood up threateningly, and interjected very loudly with, “And what is so wrong with being a mechanic or a carpenter, ehn?”

Ken had obviously been taken by surprise; he hadn’t even known I’d been listening, much less emotionally affected. To save face, he quickly recomposed his expression from shocked to haughty again and said something that made me even angrier. With his signature sneer, he asked, “Ah, where is Yaw Connor? He should come and collect his girlfriend before she comes to beat me, oo.”

When I lunged at him suddenly, people actually had to hold me back.

In my defense, this wasn’t usual behavior; I was just too stressed not to ignore him. In any case, I hadn’t had the opportunity to lay a finger on him, so I didn’t think that was quite the reason for my having been called to Mr. Dotse’s office.

I was still scanning through my possible grave offenses as I watched Charlotte carefully, even as I tried to pretend I wasn’t watching her. Drawing Mr. Dotse’s attention to whatever I was looking at was the last thing I wanted.

“So,” Mr. Dotse said to me, “Kuukua Annan.”

“Yes, sir?”

Because he was sitting down, I could manage to look at his face as I responded to him. In other circumstances, I would probably have been severely distracted by the mystery of how such a young man could possess such a huge stomach. He was my dad’s age, so he was only in his forties, but Mr. Dotse’s stomach made him constantly look like he had just finished a meal consisting of about two whole horses, drowned down with some omotuo and light soup.

Charlotte dropped a few inches without warning from a thread she had just spun. Although I was used to her doing this often in the confines of my bedroom, over here, my eyes shot back up to the ceiling in anxiety.

“Surely the spider knows how to take care of itself?” Mr. Dotse asked. “They are usually far smarter than you Annans like to give them credit for, you know.”

***

Download the story to read the rest! 🙂

Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Love,

Akotz the Spider Kid.

If I Could Kill My Feelings… (A Novelette)

A novelette is just a really long, short story. And this particular one is romantic African science fiction. Here’s the PDF: If I Could Kill My Feelings.

I hope you enjoy it. But if you don’t, that’s okay too. We can still be friends. 🙂

And yes, the title of this story has an optional ellipsis at the end. LOL.

Art by the absolute GENIUS, Kaz Aninkorah.

Sneak peek?

If I Could Kill My Feelings…

VIOLET.

I was in one of the blackest moods as I made my way to the cafeteria. My face was set in stone and my body was literally radiating hostility. It was rolling off me in huge waves. Everywhere I walked, people gave me a wide berth. It is this thing called instinct that leads you away from things that could harm you if you get too close. And in that moment, I was a threat to everyone around me. It wouldn’t take much to set me off. It was as if I was waiting for that perfect moment, for someone to approach me in just a hint of the wrong way, so that whichever insult I spontaneously generated would slide off my tongue and verbally slap them senseless. I wanted to get in a fight, to throw a punch at someone.

My phone buzzed. I ignored it.

I shouldn’t have left my room at all – in this state, I was far too combustible – but I was really hungry and neither my mood nor any other facet of my general wellbeing would benefit if I starved myself. As soon as I got my food, I planned to carry it to my room and lock myself in there for as long as necessary, until it was relatively safe for me to be around human beings again.

My phone buzzed a second time. I ignored it once more.

There were illogical amounts of distance in the self-serve line between myself, the person ahead of me, and the person behind me. Although I wasn’t looking directly at the person behind me, I was very familiar with the conflict she was internally dealing with. She was teetering, shifting her weight from leg to leg in hesitation, wondering if she really wanted to be in this line, whether she wouldn’t like the food somewhere else a little better. The longer she stayed, the stronger her doubt that she truly wanted to be here grew. Normally, I’d be self-conscious enough that it would dampen the Darkness a bit, then the space would decrease, the internal doubts would diminish, and her feet would start to find balance in sharing bodily weight equally again. Today, though, I was too far into the Darkness to care much about other people.

In a few seconds, I felt the sudden vacancy of energy. I didn’t have to look back to know that the woman who had been behind me was now gone.

The sea of people trying to get fed naturally parted for me as I made my way out of the door and stalked angrily towards my room, irritation at everything and nothing still bubbling in the pit of my gut. The buzzing of my phone restarted, but this time it didn’t stop after a second. It was incessant, and too agitating to ignore. Rage rose within me as I laid my food down on a nearby bench and snatched my phone out of my pocket, fully intending to terminate the call. I couldn’t press the reject button before I saw the ID of the caller, but I already knew it couldn’t possibly have been anyone other than Mario.

***

To read more, download the file linked at the beginning of the post! 🙂

-Akotz the Spider Kid