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  The doorbell rings and the older boy strides to the door. He returns with my mom. She takes in the scene with a mixture of concern and surprise. I stand up, my legs shaky, but firm.

  I take a deep breath. “Mom, this is … everyone!”

  They all gather around her, talking at once. By the time they get their stories sorted out, Mom looks like she needs to sit down, too. “Well! You’ve certainly been busy, Rory!”

  I blush.

  “I’d love to hear more about it in the car.”

  They all make me promise to come back soon and everyone (including Bandit) insists on following us out to the driveway. Something is nagging at me, though, and I can’t figure out what it is. Halfway to the car, it hits me, and I stop short. Angelina hadn’t heard the stories about everything that had happened. She didn’t hear them until after my mom showed up. But somehow she knew. She knew before all the others did. I whirl around, but Angelina isn’t with us. “I’ll be right back,” I promise, and dart back into the house.

  Angelina is still in her chair, my purse in her outstretched hand. “Forget something?”

  Ack! I had totally forgotten about it. Clearly I’ve got a lot of self-improvement yet to go. I take it from her and clear my throat. “I just wanted to, um, thank you for, you know, everything.”

  She scoffs. “I didn’t do anything.” Then, with a twinkle, she adds, “Well, except rescue you from the drainpipe. The rest you did by yourself.”

  “Will I see you again?”

  She smiles. “I’m like a bad penny. I keep coming back.”

  I lean down and kiss her on the cheek. Before she can protest, I run back outside. Sasha’s mom holds my car door open for me, and I slide in. They all wave until our car turns the corner at the end of the street.

  “Mom, before we talk, can I borrow your cell?”

  She grabs it from the cup holder. As she hands it to me, she warns, “I’ll be wanting to hear what happened to yours.

  You can just tack that on to all the other stories you’re about to share. The one about turning back the hands on a clock sounds particularly interesting.”

  “Okay,” I say, hoping that if I can draw out the other stories long enough, we’ll arrive at home before I ever get to the part about reaching my arm halfway down someone’s toilet.

  Annabelle picks up on the first ring. “Mrs. Swenson? What’s wrong? Is Rory okay?”

  Boy, Annabelle and my mom really DO have a lot in common! “It’s me,” I tell her. “I’m fine. I just want to ask you something.”

  “Fire away.”

  I take a deep breath. “I wanted to ask you why you’re friends with me. I mean, like, why you’d want me as your best friend.”

  She doesn’t hesitate before replying. “That’s easy. I like myself better when I’m around you. It’s like you see into me and I can’t hide anything.”

  I lean into the seat and smile. “Thanks.”

  “Hey, can you ask your mom if she has a twenty-percent-off coupon for the shoe store on Main Street? I heard they gave them out last week.”

  I ask and Mom nods.

  “Yup, you can have it.”

  “Cool. I’ll call you tonight and tell you about the rest of the party.”

  “Okay. I’ll be home all night.”

  When I hand her back the phone, Mom says, “I thought tonight was upside-down roller coaster night.”

  I smile and shake my head. “I was thinking of building a fort instead.”

  Without taking her eyes off the road, she nods and whispers, almost to herself, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

  Even though I’m pretty sure I heard her, I ask, “What did you say?”

  “I didn’t say anything. Gandhi did.”

  “Gandhi? The guy from India? First Dad quotes the Bible, and now you’re quoting Gandhi?”

  She shrugs and grins. “We’re branching out.”

  I settle back in my seat, feeling like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t plan to wish for anything for a while. I don’t plan to chart out the future, at least not right away. Things are pretty good right now, right where I am.

  Maybe Sawyer and Throckmorton would like to join me in the fort.

  About the Author

  Wendy Mass is the author of the award-winning books for young readers A Mango-Shaped Space, Leap Day, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall, Every Soul a Star, and 11 Birthdays.

  She lives with her family in New Jersey. Visit her online at


  Copyright © 2010 by Wendy Mass.

  Cover photograph © 2010 Michael Frost

  Cover design by Lillie Mear

  All rights reserved. Published by Scholastic Press, an Imprint of Scholastic Inc., Publishers since 1920. SCHOLASTIC, SCHOLASTIC PRESS, and associated logos are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Scholastic Inc.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. For information regarding permission, write to Scholastic Inc., Attention: Permissions Department, 557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Mass, Wendy, 1967–

  Finally / by Wendy Mass — 1st ed.

  p. cm.

  Summary: After her twelfth birthday, Rory checks off a list of things she is finally allowed to do, but unexpected consequences interfere with her involvement in the movie being filmed at her school, while a weird prediction starts to make sense.

  ISBN: 978-0-545-05242-9

  [1. Maturation (Psychology) — Fiction. 2. Schools — Fiction. 3. Motion Pictures — Production and direction — Fiction. 4. Accidents — Fiction. 5. Family life — Fiction. 6. Birthdays — Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.M42355Fin 2010

  [Fic] — dc22 2009015474

  First edition, March 2010

  All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of publisher.

  eISBN: 978-0-545-38888-7