It’s an age-old story, a boyhood memory that resonates amongst our boys so well that you could probably put your own names on them. Sophie Hemels is a silent gazer, teetering on the edge of observation, precariously close to intruding on such a crisp interaction between young friends. The organic nature of true, effortless friendship is innate, born from a raw place of goodness and frivolity that only young boys know how to nurture. A friendship that knows no boundaries, where no judgements are held, only a warm companionship that will sustain, develop, and thrive in their evolution into men - such a bond is to be considered a rarity.

A timid temperament lingers on Cesar’s being. He’s still so unsure on his path of discovery, yet so curious and restless. Bounding through the streets with clumsy feet pounding the concrete beneath him. Scuffing his trainers on walls that get in his way while he climbs higher and higher. In his mind today, he is an explorer, tomorrow he is a rock climber, and in a week from now he is an experimental scientist - the possibilities are endless. To be young is to be fearless and he hasn’t lost this yet. The inevitability of manhood however, looms ominously in the distance. He is excited for it, but toys in its shadows for as long as his juvenility will allow, teasing it with his youthful and refreshing genius.

Lean on me. The boys’ tough exteriors are splintered, exposing a facade, as melting eyes reveal Cesar’s true maturity. They support each other’s growth – they’re in it together. Young being, politely shy, playing ‘grown-up’ like all the big kids do. Purity emanates from within, which dispels the mimicked brutishness of their attitudes; their walk, their talk - it’s all just a game - playing dress up in the big boys clothes. It fits them. They’re at that stage that a mother yearns her child to stay at forever. Idly adolescent, as their juvenile quirks still proves more endearing than punk-ish. For now, they are the boys that are young, but so ready to grow up.

Words by Brogan Anderson.

In the Shadows of Manhood