On a late summer evening in the 7th Ward neighborhood of New Orleans, we find Javon, a quiet nine-year-old boy lost in his escape – an invisible trumpet and dreams of being a musician like his two older brothers. When Javon’s quiet world is interrupted and he’s summoned to errands by his depressed homebody mother, Jeanette, we get glimpses into his child’s eye world: tense run-ins with the neighborhood drug dealer, taunting from his peers, and his small pockets of joy in solitude, riding his bike through the neighborhood that is his whole universe.

But Javon’s peace doesn’t last long – and back home, we see a broken and painful family dynamic that Javon can’t escape: a testy, overprotective mother who keeps him sheltered and isolated, an absent older brother on the edge of an illicit lifestyle, and the weight of an unspeakable loss that permeates the entire household and shapes Javon’s whole life. That night, when Javon tests the limits of his mother’s iron fist rule, he strikes a nerve, and she cracks open, revealing the tragic logic behind her overbearing mothering: she’s already lost a child, and doesn’t want to lose another.

Javon finds solace in the one thing that brings him comfort, Damon’s prized trumpet – but just as Javon readies the trumpet to play, Damon sneaks back home, with the heat of danger on his heels. As Damon urgently prepares for the night ahead of him, Javon prods him for a trumpet lesson and gets a small win: a promise from Damon that he’ll teach him how to play. With that, Javon goes to sleep, reluctantly hopeful. But, without fail, he’s awakened in the middle of the night when tragedy strikes – a police officer at the door, bearing sobering news for Jeanette. And yet again, a familiar pain Javon must bear.

We then move forward in time. One day, in the aftermath of the tragedy, Javon bikes past a marching band practice, and as he watches the band play, he’s reminded to continue dreaming. Feeling the power of this legacy of musicians that he is now a part of, Javon finally picks up Damon’s trumpet, and just as he’s about to blow, we cut to black.