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  He laughs. “Say his name three times fast.”


  “Just do it.”

  “KyleR, KyleR, KyleR.” I step back from the counter. “Killer?”

  He nods. “That’s right.”

  “So you sold me a killer rabbit?”

  “He’s just a little feisty, is all.”

  “Feisty? Last night I woke up with him lying on my face. I couldn’t breathe!”

  He picks up the cage and puts it behind the desk. “You really shouldn’t let a rabbit sleep with you.”

  “I didn’t! He was locked in his cage. With extra tape around the door!”

  The man looks skeptical, but opens the cash register and hands me forty dollars. “This oughta cover it. And how about I throw in a goldfish? Not likely to kill you.”

  Before I can tell him not to bother, he’s already swishing a net around the closest fish tank. Mom and Sawyer arrive while he’s scooping a goldfish into a plastic bag. They’re each nibbling a hot pretzel. Since hot pretzels are pretty much the only thing I eat in the cafeteria every day, I turn it down when offered. I’m glad to see Sawyer is branching out, though.

  “I really don’t need one,” I tell the manager when he goes to hand me the fish.

  “Goldfish!” Sawyer says, jumping up and snatching it. Good thing the knot in the bag is tight.

  “You’re sure you want to do this, Rory?” Mom asks. “You loved that fluffy little guy.”

  I take a last look at Bunny. His cute orange ears are still cute. His soft white fur is still soft. And his adorable little wiggling nose is still adorable. But inside his bunny chest lies a heart of stone.

  “I’m sure. Let’s go.”

  She puts her arm around me, and I put mine around Sawyer. The three of us walk out of the store, and right smack into Alexa, Natalie, Mena, Heather, and Jess. And I mean right smack into them, in that way that makes glasses slide down your nose and people holding bags drop them. And these girls were holding a lot of bags. I fix my glasses and see that they’ve been busy shopping in at least five different clothing stores, along with a bunch of makeup and accessories shops. Sawyer’s goldfish bag had also gone flying, but luckily it landed at Mom’s feet and didn’t break. As soon as the girls sort out whose bag is whose, they focus their attention to me. I brace for the worst.

  “Aren’t you the girl who always wears that weird hat?” Mena asks.

  I glance at Mom and nod reluctantly. “Um, I don’t really need it anymore.”

  “That’s good to hear, Rory,” Natalie says, adjusting the pocketbook on her shoulder. “I was afraid you were going to wear it to my party.”

  “So you are going to Natalie’s party!” Alexa exclaims. “Interesting!”

  I know she’s thinking about our IM, the one she thought she was having with Boy Rory. I wonder if they ever got that sorted out.

  Alexa notices Sawyer. “Hey, I recognize you! You have more clothes on now, though!”

  The other girls laugh.

  “We’ve got to get going, Rory,” Mom says, steering me and Sawyer away. “You girls have a lovely day.”

  They giggle and head toward the food court.

  We don’t speak the whole way out to the car. Well, except for Sawyer, who has been bellowing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” at the top of his lungs ever since the collision. I climb in and stare straight ahead. Mom puts Sawyer into his car seat and joins me up front. She doesn’t start the car, though. Instead, she clears her throat and asks, “How’s your list coming?”

  I look over, surprised. She’s never really acknowledged my list before. “Only three things left. Getting contact lenses, going to Natalie’s party, and riding the upside-down roller coaster.”

  “Then what are we waiting for?” She starts the car and backs out of the spot. “Let’s go get those lenses.”

  “It’s a Sunday, Mom. The eye doctor’s closed.”

  She slows down. “Oh, right. Well, I’ll pick you up after school tomorrow, and we’ll go then.”

  I watch her out of the corner of my eye. “You have a coupon, don’t you?”


  The whole way home I think about how at least one of my attempts to look better for the party is actually going to happen. I won’t have makeup, or earrings, or hair-free legs, but at least I won’t have glasses, either.

  The next day, since we made such a last minute appointment, we’re told we’ll have to wait a little while. Sawyer isn’t great in waiting rooms. He likes to climb over all the chairs — even if other people are sitting in them. Once Mom got caught up reading a copy of People magazine, and Sawyer started going through a lady’s purse on the chair next to them. The lady didn’t think it was very funny and threatened to press charges.

  Luckily for everyone, this office building has a built-in babysitting room. Anyone visiting any of the doctors in the whole building can bring their kids to this room for only a dollar an hour. We drop Sawyer off, and he happily joins the other kids to watch The Lion King.

  Back in the waiting room, I keep busy by looking through the contact lenses brochures. “Hey, Mom, look.” I hold up the brochure. She keeps reading her magazine. Undaunted, I ask, “Did you know you can get contacts that look like cat’s eyes? Or with little smiley faces in the middle?”

  She flips her page. “You’re not getting those.”

  I lean back in my seat. “I know. I was just saying.”

  After a few more minutes we get called into Dr. Levinson’s office. She’s been my eye doctor since I failed the vision test at school when I was six. She’s always been very nice to me, which helps when you’re the only first grader who has to wear glasses.

  “So you’re finally ready to try contacts?” she asks.

  “I’ve been ready,” I reply. “It was my mother who wasn’t ready.”

  “Hey, we’re here now, aren’t we?” Mom says.

  Dr. Levinson checks something in my file, and says, “Usually we need to do a full checkup before fitting you for contacts, but your annual checkup was just a few months ago, so we can use that prescription.”

  This is great news, because it means I won’t have to deal with that machine that blows a puff of air into your eye. I always dread that part.

  “All we need to do is measure the curvature of your corneas to make sure we fit you with the right size,” she says. “I should warn you, contact lenses are a big commitment. You have to apply them very carefully, and then clean and change them as often as the type you choose requires. Otherwise, you can damage your eyes, and even permanently warp your cornea. It’s a big responsibility. I always tell parents to ask themselves how well their child follows through with their homework, or how well they take care of the family pet. Those are good indicators of how well they’ll do with contacts.”

  Mom frowns. “Rory did just return her pet rabbit after less than two weeks….”

  I whirl to face her. “He tried to kill me!”

  She shrugs. “Nevertheless.”

  Figures Mom wouldn’t let this be easy.

  Dr. Levinson raises her eyebrows, but doesn’t pry. “You’re probably aware that there are many different types of lenses. For kids your age, I’m a fan of the disposable soft lenses. They’re very comfortable, and easier for the eye to adapt to than the hard lenses.”

  I hold up the brochure. “What about the ones you don’t have to take out for thirty days? Those sounded good.”

  She shakes her head. “I don’t recommend those for my younger patients. The chance for a negative reaction is too great.”

  I let the brochure drop onto the desk. Well, that solves that! I’ve had enough negative reactions recently to last a lifetime.

  Dr. Levinson pushes back her chair. “The first step is to make sure you feel comfortable inserting and removing the lenses. No sense going further before then.” She leads us over to a little nook with different-sized mirrors, bottles of contact solution, and boxes of different lenses. “Sarah, our c