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  Megan waves the flyer in front of Jenny’s face. “But we haven’t even signed up our team!”

  “I signed the four of us up last month,” Katy says. “I guess I forgot to mention it.”

  Jenny makes her exit as we turn to Katy in surprise. Katy has this photographic memory thing, where she remembers anything she reads.

  “But Megan and I are trying out for the school play today,” I remind her. “It starts during last period but it always runs another hour after school ends.”

  “So you’ll still be able to get to my house by four, right? Okay, then, done deal.”

  Well, what could I say to that?

  Zoey narrows her eyes at Katy. “What’s been going on with you lately? It’s not like you to organize something and forget to tell us.”

  “Nothing,” she says, pulling a peach from her bag. “Why would you say that?”

  “You seem out of it,” Megan says. “Last night you were supposed to call me and you forgot. You never forget.” Megan then looks pointedly at me. “What do you think, Josie?”

  I chew thoughtfully on my burrito. I don’t want to question Katy in front of everyone so I say, “She seems fine to me. Except for that whole note thing.”

  “What note thing?” Megan asks, leaning forward. She loves gossip, even when it’s about her friends. Maybe especially when it’s about her friends.

  Katy looks at me pleadingly. We’ve been friends for so long that

  I can pretty much read her mind. It’s clear she doesn’t want me to say anything, even though I’m not sure why. The lesson on improvisation in drama class kicks in, and I decide to practice my on-the-spot acting skills. “Oh, it’s just some note we found in the gym locker room and Katy said we shouldn’t read it. But I was like, sure we should, finders keepers, so we read it and it was all about ‘I like this guy but he doesn’t like me, I’ll just die if he doesn’t ask me to the Spring Dance, boo hoo.’”

  Katy has a half-amused, half-grateful look on her face. Megan’s eyes widen. Zoey stops mid-bite and, mouth full of burger, asks, “Who wrote the note?”

  Katy kicks me under the table before I can respond. She says, “Sadly, that part was torn off.”

  “I bet it was that girl Alyssa —” Zoey begins, then suddenly stops talking and jumps up off the bench. She points across the lawn. “Oh my god, Sherri Haugen is finally going into labor!”

  We all whirl around. Sure enough, a whole crowd has formed around the blanket where Sherri Haugen always sits with her crowd of friends.

  “Give her room,” one of her girlfriends yells. “Everyone clear away!”

  No one moves. “Get out of the way!” a louder voice calls out. It is Nurse Sanders. She huffs and puffs through the courtyard. Two of the school security guards scurry behind her, carrying a stretcher.

  “How’d they find out so fast?” Megan asks without turning her head away from the action.

  “Maybe they were watching from a window,” Katy suggests. The crowd parts and we watch them lift Sherri onto the stretcher. They must be strong, because she is huge. She’s the only pregnant person I’ve ever seen close up, so maybe it’s normal to be so huge. She must weigh two hundred pounds, though. By this time an ambulance has arrived and they carry her toward it. Her girlfriends surround her on both sides, smoothing her hair and holding her hands while she whimpers.

  “Where’s her boyfriend?” Zoey asks.

  We look around. Usually Bobby’s not more than a foot away from her at all times. We don’t see him anywhere.

  “I hear she’s giving the baby up for adoption,” Megan whispers. Katy shakes her head. “I heard she’s keeping it and getting married.”

  We sit back down and resume eating. I have no idea what I would do in Sherri’s place. I intend never to have to find out. At that moment the always-annoying Missy Hiver leans over from the next table. “You guys don’t know anything,” she says. “Sherri and Bobby broke up last week.”

  “How do you know that?” I ask.

  She purses her lips. “Despite what you might think,” she says, “I’m not stupid. I hear things just like everyone else.”

  “I never said you were stupid.”

  “Right,” she says. “Whatever.” With that she turns around and keeps her back to me.

  “What was that all about?” Megan asks. “What does that girl have against you?”

  “I have no idea.” I hate to admit it, but it’s starting to bother me. As much as I don’t understand why people do like me, it still annoys me when they don’t.

  “Well, we all love you,” Zoey says, patting me on the back. “Even if you do closely resemble a dead fish!”

  I look up from my root beer and see to my horror that Zoey is holding up my license so the other three can see it. All at once they cover their mouths and laugh. Zoey must have snuck it out of my bookbag while we were watching the Sherri saga unfold. I make a grab for it, but she holds it high above her head.

  “It’s not so bad,” Katy says. “Hey, and now you can drive for the scavenger hunt this afternoon.”

  “Are you kidding?” I tell her, making another grab for the license. “You want me to drive all over town on my very first day behind the wheel?”

  “She’s right, Josie,” Megan says. “We need someone on the team with a car. We could always ask Missy, she has her license and I bet no one else wants her! How ’bout that?”

  I turn to Katy. “You knew I’d have to drive when you signed us up, you bad, bad friend.”

  “Cheer up,” Megan says. “If we get killed, at least we’ll all die together.”

  “I can’t die on my birthday anyway,” I mutter under my breath. Although I can still be maimed and bruised.

  “Here,” Zoey says, “you can have this back.” She holds out the license and I grab it. “We’re not really making fun of you. We’re just jealous.” Before I push it far down into my bag, I take one last look and shudder. When I turn back to my burrito there’s a candle in it. The three of them break into the happy birthday song. I’m about to blow out the candle when I see Rob and his girlfriend, Anne, hurrying across the lawn to his car. Our car now. Anne is a few steps ahead of him. I turn back to the candle and briefly consider wishing that someday I’ll be the one stealing away to kiss someone in the Shark. In the end I decide to wish that a magic bubble would form over the heads of everyone I love to protect them from things that fall from the sky.

  I pull the candle out of the burrito and stick it in the side pocket of my bag, where I find the second muffin my mother gave me. It’s still fairly intact.

  “I forgot, my mother made this for you.” I hold the muffin out to Megan with the least-crushed side facing her.

  She eyes it hungrily, but in a split second her expression changes to one of horror. “Do you know how much butter is in a homemade muffin?”

  “A lot?”

  “Belle would never eat that.”

  “But Belle loved a beast,” Zoey says. “She doesn’t care about things like outside appearances.”

  Megan nibbles on her cucumber slice. “Yeah, but you didn’t see her complaining too much when the beast turned into a handsome prince.”

  Katy reaches across the table and takes the muffin from my hand. “Anything your mom makes is bound to be good.”

  “Such a suck-up,” Megan mutters.

  Katy grins with the pieces of muffin stuck all in her teeth.

  The bell rings and I stuff the last bite of the burrito into my mouth. I think I could live happily on Taco Bell forever. After agreeing to meet at Katy’s house for the Scav, Megan and I head off to world religions class. It finally hits me that she’s wearing an extremely Juliet-like peasant blouse.

  I turn to her. “You’re still trying out for the nurse, right? Not


  She nods. “Absolutely. This was just the only clean thing I had.” When we pass the bathroom, Megan tells me she has to go and that she’ll meet me in class.