Authors: Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans
Copyright Â© 2014 by Jenna McCarthy and Carolyn Evans
Cover and internal design Â© 2014 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Cover design by Demeter Designs
Cover illustration Â© Brigette Barrager
Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systemsâexcept in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviewsâwithout permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the authors.
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file with the publisher.
Source of Production: Versa Press, East Peoria, IL
Date of Production: March 2014
Run Number: 5000907
We dedicate this book to our respective children. Raising you all is an out-of-this-world adventure, every single day. Never forget that you get to choose how big you want your lives to be.
“It's going to be fine,” Stella tells me. “Really.”
I try to nod my head up and down like I agree, but the tears pouring down my face are a pretty good sign that I
agree. Like, at all.
â¦thisâ¦toâ¦me?” I sob between huge, heaving breaths. A tangle of strawberry blond curls sticks to my wet cheeks. I am a total mess.
“Maggie, your dad didn't lose his job on purpose, you know,” Stella says softly, removing a ringlet that's plastered to my neck.
I absolutely love Stella, but sometimes she acts like she knows everything.
Like the time she insisted that her bowl of Lucky Charms had a green heart in it when everybody knows that the hearts only come in pink.
“Look! Look! I got a green heart in my Lucky Charms!” she shouted one morning after a sleepover at my house. “That's soooo lucky for me! I'm going to save it and wear it on a necklace!”
I tried explaining that her green heart was just a messed-up green clover, but she wouldn't listen. Some things you just have to let go. And I do, because we've been friends since before we were born (and our moms have been BFFs since forever) and she really is a great friend. Like, get this: when that green heart shriveled up to half its size but still had plenty of good luck left in it, she gave it to meânot Ginger Poole, not Alexis Parkerâ
“Of course I know he didn't
,” I practically shout at her. “But it still stinks. I've gone to Sacred Heart since kindergarten! How would you like to start a brand-new school in the middle of the year? And I don't know a single kid who goes to Stinkerton Middle School!” The name is actually Randolph J. Pinkerton Middle School, or RJPMS or sometimes just Pinkerton for short. But everybody at Sacred Heart calls it Stinkerton.
“Wait, yes you do. Doesn't Izzy Zimmerman go to Stinkerton?” Stella asks, yanking around thirty tissues out of the box and handing them to me.
Stella and I are in Ranger Girls with Izzy Zimmermanâor at least we
, until Izzy got kicked out for stealing all the cookie money our troop raised. I went all over the neighborhood one day in the pouring rain wearing my too-tight ladybug rain boots to sell seventy-seven boxes of those suckers. Izzy only sold four lousy Snickerdoozles, all of them to her mom. At least I got a merit badge.
“Oh, sweet,” I say sarcastically, wiping my face with a huge wad of tissues. “The one person I know at my new school is a criminal. This is going to be great. Just great.”
“You know what? I just remembered I heard she got expelled,” Stella says. “Apparently stealing cookie dough wasn't her only offense. Get it? Cookie
I know Stella is just trying to help, but I can't even manage a smile. I bury my head in my pillow and groan like I'm about to face the end of the world. Because in a way I am. The end of
world, at least.
“Let's see what Magic 8 Ball says!” Stella shouts, grabbing the worn black orb from my nightstand. The screen is pretty scratched up, and the inside usually gets stuck on “it is certain,” so we like it better than the app on Stella's iTouch. That thing is always saying “ask again later.” How annoying is
? If I'm asking right now, I'm pretty sure I need the answer, like, now.
Stella opens my closet door and pulls out the black magician cape I got the year we were twin vampire bats for Halloween. Stella always wears it when we consult the Great Eight.
“Come on, Stella, that cape is ridiculous,” I say. I snatch the ball out of her hand and toss itâhardâtoward the trash can next to my desk. Of course I miss by about half a mile. It's just that kind of day.
“There's no such thing as magic, anyway,” I add. “And that thing's just a dumb old toy. When we don't like the answer, we just ask it again until we get the one we want. Stupid pretend magic can't help me now.
can help me now. My life is ruined.”
“Hey, what about me?” Stella asks, her huge brown eyes filling with tears. Stella is the exact opposite of me, at least in the looks department. I've got what my mom calls a “buttermilk complexion” (I've never seen freckly buttermilk, but whatever), and Stella has skin the color of a perfectly toasted bagel. My head is covered with unruly reddish-blondish ringlets that tend to grow up and out before they grow down, which is why I only get my hair cut every few years. Right now, it's about halfway down my back when it's dry, and I can practically sit on it when it's wet. Stella's hair is so black it's almost
, and it's raw-spaghetti-straight and cut into a super-neat bob. One time, we set her hair in my mom's tiny hot rollers and left them in all afternoon. When we took those curlers out, there wasn't even one tiny bend on her whole head. How can that happen? It's got to be some sort of medical mystery, if you ask me.
“Did you ever think about how
life's going to change?” Stella demands. “Nothing is going to be the same anymore. Everybody at school knows us as Maggie-and-Stella. I bet there are people who have no idea which one of us is which! Sure, I know everybody at Sacred Heartâbut I'm not going to have
best friend around either.” A tear slips down Stella's face, and she quickly wipes it away.
“I'm sorry, Stella,” I say, hugging her as hard as I can. “I know it stinks for you too. I just can't even believe this is happening. This is without a doubt the most horrible day of my whole entire life.”
The most pathetic part is I have no idea how much worse my life is about to get.
I am standing at the bottom of the gigantic set of stairs leading up to RJPMS. I feel like I'm inside a massive pinball machine, getting jostled by kids bumping into me from all sides. Sacred Heart had a whopping 242 students, and that was from kindergarten all the way through the twelfth grade. My new school (ugh, I can't stand saying that!) has that many kids in
. It's a zoo here. An absolute zoo. With no zookeeper in sight.
As much as I complained about having to wear a uniform at Sacred Heart, it sure made things a lot easier. I changed my clothes at least fifteen times this morning, finally settling on jeans and a plain gray sweater. My outfit may be drab, but at least it's not offensive or anything. You should see how some of these kids are dressed. I thought people only wore stuff like this in the movies or on that
Don't Wear That
show on TV. There's one girl in about five-inch high heels and a skirt shorter than some of my bathing suit bottoms, and a guy in a T-shirt so ripped up it looks like he got in a fight with a tiger. My mom would have a complete conniption.
I navigate my way through a sea of kids as I search for my locker, B163. I just pray that it's not a bottom locker. Bottom lockers are the worst because you have to crouch down to get in and out, and the person above you is always dropping stuff on your head. Also? That person always acts like they're doing you some big favor to let you in there for a whole second. The only thing worse than a bottom locker is a corner locker, because then you can't open your door until the person
to you closes theirs, and you're always late for class.
B160, B161, B162â¦
There it is. B163. Bottom row. All the way in the corner.
I'm a nice person. I hold doors open for old people and brake for squirrels on my bike.
The bell rings and there's this crazy burst of activity, but I can't get anywhere near my awful corner locker so I wait. Finally I see a little opening. I squat down and crawl around a dozen pairs of legs until I reach B163. The door is stuck shut because it's all dented and crushed in. It won't budge. I set my stack of books and my lunch bag next to me so I can pull on the rusty handle with both hands.
Yeah, that would be the sound of my cream cheese and jelly sandwich meeting the sole of somebody's boot.
“Ewww, total grossness!” screams the mouth that's connected to the foot that is now wearing my lunch. I look up for a minute so she can apologize, seeing as she just trampled my sandwich and all. I quickly realize
not going to happen.
“Are you okay?” I hear another girl ask, all concerned. Well, at least someone around here has some manners.
“Um, yeah, I'm fineâ” I start, but then I realize that the concerned girl is not talking to me.
“Thanks Brit, I
so. Where did that even
from?” says sandwich-smasher. She starts hopping on her clean foot, kicking the other one and flinging globs of pink cream cheese all over the place. I'm still sitting there on the floor, stunned, when the second bell rings.
Perfect. I'm late to my first class on my first day at this miserable school. I scoop up all of my stuff and head to the office for a late slip, tossing my bag of mush into a trash can on the way.
When I open the door to room nineteen, every single face turns to stare at me. And not one of them is smiling or looks even the tiniest bit friendly.
“You're late,” says the teacher. “Where's your slip?”
“Sorry,” I respond, rushing to hand it to her. “It's right here.”
“Is this your first day, Missâ¦” she glances at the slip in her hand, “Malone?”
I nod, wishing that a huge hole would open up in the floor and swallow me in one big gulp.
“Class, this is Margaret Malone,” she announces. “She's new. Welcome, Margaret. Now please take a seat. We're on chapter seven.”
Margaret? Really? That's my grandmother's name, not mine! Well, technically it's mine too, but the only time anybody ever calls me that is when I'm in Big Fat Trouble, and then it's more like Margaret-Flannery-Malone-You-Get-In-Here-This-Instant. Could this day get any worse?
I spend the next forty-seven minutes half listening to what the teacher, Mrs. Richter, is saying and half worrying about what I'm going to do at lunch. I purposely packed that sandwich so I could go find somewhere quiet to eat and
have to deal with the lunchroom scene. Now I'm going to have to do it, because I'm not one of those people who can skip lunch. When I don't eat every few hours, I get all dizzy and cranky, and my stomach makes these really embarrassing haunted-house sounds.
Finally the bell rings, and I'm the second person out the door. I race as fast as I can to my locker and crouch down to yank on the door. In seconds, I'm surrounded by legs. At least I made it here first.
I'm rummaging through my stuff when all of a sudden, out of nowhereâ
âsomeone smacks me across the head with a baseball bat. Or maybe they dropped a sack of bricks or a piano on my head; it's sort of hard to tell. All I know is that I'm seeing stars. I slump down against my locker and reach up to touch my head where it's throbbing. The last thing I remember is seeing my hand covered in blood.