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  Jenny walks past us and hands an envelope to the team of boys with the menus written on their stomachs. They whoop it up and high-five each other. Somehow I can’t picture them choosing the spa treatments.

  Jenny waves the second envelope in the air and then heads straight for us. She drops it in the middle of our circle. “Congratulations.” We drop hands and hug each other. The Davis twins join our group hug even though they can’t come with us to the spa.

  “I bet if we had just gotten that half-eaten burrito it would have pushed us over the top,” Katy says cheerfully, checking her list. “We forgot about that one.”

  “That’s okay, boy bands are so last-century anyway,” says Zoey. Megan holds the envelope high in the air. “Free massages, here we come!”

  “Last but certainly not least,” Jenny says, “are our first place winners. They got every item on our list, including what must surely be the last bottle of Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific in the state of Florida, and, to top it off, these!” She holds up a pair of plain white boxer shorts. “Principal Harrison’s boxers!” The team in question jumps up and down, hugging each other. One of the girls is in my math class and she’s pretty nice. I’d love to know how they got the boxers. I glance over at Amelia to see how she’s handling her defeat. If she didn’t look so sad I would gloat.

  I drop the Davis twins home with the reminder that lunch is on me tomorrow. After driving around all day I feel like an old pro. As I pull into Katy’s driveway Megan exclaims, “Oh my god, we almost forgot to give Josie her present!” She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a small, unsealed envelope with my name on it. “This is from all three of us.”

  I turn the envelope over in my hand. I can’t imagine what’s in it.

  For a second I wonder if it could be Katy’s note from earlier, but that wouldn’t make any sense.

  “Go ahead,” Megan urges. “Open it.”

  I reach in and pull out a small piece of paper. “Wally’s Hot Air Balloons. See the World in a Different Way.” I reread it a few times to make sure I am seeing it correctly. Did my friends just give me something that falls into the category of Things That Fall From the Sky?

  As believably as I can muster, I exclaim, “Thank you guys, this is great!”

  Katy explains, “We figured this would be something you’d like since you’re always looking up at the sky. We can all go up together.”

  Maybe it would have been smart if I had ever explained exactly why I’m always looking up at the sky. The picture of the balloon on the card does look really beautiful, though. “When would we do it?”

  “We’ve got a year from today,” Megan says.

  A whole year to get used to the idea sounds great to me. By the time we get back to Katy’s house her mother is home from work and offers to drive me the few blocks home. I grab my bookbag from upstairs and climb back in the minivan, this time in the passenger seat.

  “Be ready at eight-thirty for the lake,” Zoey calls out as we pull away.

  “So,” Katy’s mom says. “What are you girls actually doing at the lake? Katy won’t tell me.”

  “I honestly don’t know. No one will tell me anything either.” She looks doubtful.

  “So, did that kid recover from drinking the water?” I ask. She nods. “He’ll have a stomachache for a while.”

  “What exactly is in that water?”

  “Believe me, honey, you don’t want to know.”

  “Uh-oh,” I say as my house comes into view. “We have to go back.”

  “What did you forget?”

  “My spaceship.”

  She raises her eyebrows at me. “Teenagers these days,” she says, swinging the car around. “I don’t even know what you’re talking about half the time.”

  5:10 P.M. – 6:45 P.M.

  Chapter 9B: Everyone

  Missy Hiver and her teammates, Tara, Rachel, and Shira, run into the Celebration Deli and almost knock the newspaper stand over in their hurry to grab a paper.

  “I’ve got an idea!” Missy says. The other girls glance at each other uneasily. Missy’s ideas could be dangerous. Shira and Rachel didn’t really want to be on her team in the first place. Tara had to convince them that besides an unhealthy obsession with the Olsen twins and a small anger management problem, Missy is really not that bad. Tara doesn’t mind being friends with her because she thinks Missy is very lonely.

  “Let’s take all of them!” Missy says, her eyes gleaming. “That way no one else can get one.”

  “But that includes anyone who’s not in the scavenger hunt,” Rachel argues. “The regular people in town couldn’t get a paper.”

  Missy considers this. “What if we promise to return them tonight?” “It’s okay with me,” Tara says. Shira and Rachel agree as well, as long as Missy promises to return them. They pile the stacks onto each other’s arms and hurry out of the store. Missy opens the trunk of her car, and they drop the newspapers next to Rachel’s sister’s rejection letter from Florida State (which counts as college letterhead) and a half-eaten burrito that Missy found by fishing through a dumpster behind Taco Haven. It makes the whole car smell, even though it’s in the trunk.

  The girls pile into the car, and Missy drives a few stores past the deli before she stops. “Let’s wait here a few minutes,” she suggests. “Just to see another team go in for the papers.”

  “Five minutes,” Tara says. “That’s it.”

  Not even a minute later a blue minivan pulls up in front of the deli and a red-haired girl runs into the store. Missy recognizes Zoey right away. And that means Josie Taylor is behind the wheel of that minivan. She inches the car forward for a closer look. Sure enough, it’s Josie. Now she knows she did the right thing by taking all those papers.

  Zoey runs back out empty-handed, and even Shira and Rachel have to laugh.

  “Let’s go now, Missy,” Tara says, trying to hide her smile.

  Missy slowly approaches the minivan as Megan gets out to join Zoey in a fruitless search. As she drives past, Missy looks in the window of the van and sees, of all things, the Davis twins. She almost doesn’t brake in time for the red light ahead of her because she is too busy seething.

  “Did you see that?” Missy says, looking behind her at the van. “Those were the Davis twins! I bet they’re the two identical things from the list!”

  “Gee,” Shira says. “Ya think? Too bad you couldn’t get Mary-Kate and Ashley, right? Imagine all the bonus points we’d get for them!”

  Missy whirls around to face her. Her face is red. “Mary-Kate and Ashley are not identical. Ashley is like, an inch taller!”

  Mr. Simon carefully lays the barbell down on the carpet in the spare room he hopes to one day make into a nursery for a baby. He stretches his shoulders and rolls his head from side to side. Before he got married he used to work out much more often. Now he only gets to do it when his wife isn’t home or if she’s upstairs grading exams. He doesn’t really mind, because he doesn’t put too much stock in physical appearances. He knows some of the girls at school have crushes on him, and he thinks it’s sweet. But rather than worrying about looking buff, he’d rather run through the streets of town or on one of the jogging paths. He loves the feel of the earth beneath his feet, the endorphins kicking in just when he needs them most. He appreciates the peacefulness of his town, but could do without everyone knowing each other’s business. Over the weekend he went into Celebration Drugs for constipation medicine, and today three people on the street have asked if his “little problem” was taken care of. Happily, as of second period, all’s clear in that area. He felt bad being gone from class for so long, but the laxative wasn’t going to wait any longer.

  He bends down to pick up the barbell for a second round of reps when the doorbell rings. His wife must have lost her keys again. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear she was giving them away to people on the street. He considers taking off his tank top before he answers the door because she told him last week she thought it would be s