May’s eyes snapped open. Everything seemed fuzzy, slow. She blinked a few times and experienced a strange feeling of vertigo.
Every individual crack in the ceiling stood out in sharp detail.
She sat up slowly, scratching her head, making her reddish-brown hair frizz, and scanned the room. Logan was asleep in the far corner, head on her arm. Despite being ten feet away, May was astonished to see the fine lines of stitching in the blanket jumbled around her, and the green nail polish on Logan’s exposed pinkie toe stood out like a sore thumb.
She looked around at Krissy, who slept next to her, and could make out all the dust motes dancing in the beam of sunlight that fell on her like a spotlight.
This is so weird, May thought.
The shadows contrasted greatly with the strips of sunlight, the hardwood floor was suddenly a work of art in its complexity of swirls, lines, scratches, and cracks. A fly zipped past beyond the bedroom door, left ajar, and May could hear the buzz of its tiny wings.
Still marveling at her new heightened senses, May swung her legs over the edge of the bed, and the blanket clung to her fingers as her hand brushed across it.
“What the –?”
But before she could do anything more, the alarm clock by Tricia’s bedside went off.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
“Ugh!” Tricia grumbled angrily, and she smacked it so hard, the clock sparked and a fine wisp of smoke rose from the wiring.
“Whoa!” admonished a bleary-eyed Logan. “I get you hate your alarm and everything, but you didn’t have to kill it.”
“It’s a stupid piece of junk anyway,” Tricia retorted.
“It was perfectly fine until you broke it,” Kelly snapped. “It liked it better when Allison was on alarm duty.”
“Well, she’s not here!” Tricia said harshly.
“Guys,” May said exasperatedly.
But they continued to bicker as she tried to detach the sheet from her hand. This wasn’t like when fresh laundry had a static cling; it felt like the fabric had been glued to her fingers.
She shook her hand up and down, making the sheet undulate in great waves, but it wouldn’t come off. But the argument that preceded had taken a different turn.
“You’re not in charge here!” Fiona said angrily. “May is!”
May’s head jerked up in surprise as all eyes fell on her.
“Yeah, May!” Logan jumped in. “You’ve been here longer than all of us, tell her!”
“Guys!” she protested, looking from one angry face to the next. “I’m not taking sides here.”
And then suddenly everyone was yelling, their voices blurring together so that only a few snatches could be heard at a time.
“… being overdramatic –”
“… only been here for a month!”
“… such a jerk –”
“If Allison was here –”
They all flinched.
Miss Edna stood in the doorway, looking furious. “You all sound like a pack of angry seagulls! You’ve woken Abigail and at this rate, you won’t make it school until next week! Now stop your yammering and get dressed!”
Grumbling and groaning, the girls reluctantly started getting ready.
May shook her head and ripped the sheet off her hand.
“Ha!” she said triumphantly. “Wait, what?”
She shook her other hand up and down only to find that the sheet was stuck again!
Are you serious right now, she thought irritably.
“Come on, May,” Logan called, zipping up her sweater.
“Yeah, one sec.”
She stood up and used her foot to pin the sheet down, pulling back with all her might.
There was a loud ripping sound and her hand was free.
May let out a breath of relief and started for the door, the bed sheet trailing behind her.
Baffled, she looked down to find it was stuck to her foot!
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
She hopped awkwardly towards the door as the girls filed out, shaking her right foot insistently to no avail.
May stopped at the top of the stairs and held onto the rail, kicking out wildly. The sheet danced up and down in her wake and she put her foot down with a frustrated huff.
“You know what –?”
Using the rail for support, she began to hop down the stairs, step by step.
“May, what’s the hold-up?” Logan said from below.
But no sooner had she put her foot down, she slipped and went thundering down the stairs.
Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, thump!
May landed hard at the bottom, gasping in pain, her rear end throbbing. Logan stood three feet away, mouth open in horror.
“I didn’t push her,” said Tricia from the top of the stairs.
“Sure you didn’t!” Logan said angrily, marching over to May.
“No, she didn’t. I fell,” May said, wincing as she shifted her weight. “Now can you get this thing off of me?”
“What the heck?” Logan said in bewilderment, seeing May’s predicament.
She grabbed hold of the sheet with two hands and yanked.
“Wow, it’s like this thing is glued on!” she said, her voice strained.
She gave a cry of surprise as the sheet tore off and Logan fell backwards onto the floor.
Logan picked up the bed sheet in her hands, inspecting it all over.
She looked up at May, completely mystified.
“Don’t even ask.”
I guess it’s gonna be one of those days, May thought wearily.
Logan balled up the sheet and threw it aside, then got up and helped May to her feet.
“My butt hurts,” May said in a small voice.
“I know, it’s okay,” Logan said sympathetically, and she led May down the final set of stairs and into the kitchen.
“What fell?” Miss Edna demanded at once.
“Me,” May said.
“Oh, you poor thing!” Miss Edna fussed, all traces of anger gone. “Come! Come sit. I’ll get you a cushion.”
Miss Edna grabbed one from the couch in the living room and plopped it on an empty chair. May sat down gratefully and reached for the milk carton.
“How many times have I told you to be careful on the stairs?” Miss Edna scolded.
“Twenty thousand,” Kelly said flippantly, pouring herself some cereal.
“And why aren’t you dressed?” Miss Edna demanded.
“Oh,” Logan piped up. “She had a sh—”
May shook her head quickly and caught Tricia smirking.
“Um …” Logan trailed off, trying to find the right words. “She was just so eager to get to breakfast.”
“Is that so?”
“Mmm hmm,” Logan nodded vigorously.
Miss Edna narrowed her eyes and May knew she wasn’t buying it.
“Okay,” she said finally. “Eat up. You have fifteen minutes.”
May blew through her lips and went to put down the milk carton, and to her disbelief, it was stuck too!
She looked pleadingly at Logan, whose mouth fell open.
“May!” she hissed under her breath, grabbing the carton.
They struggled for a few seconds before Kelly paused to watch.
“What are you doing?”
“She is passing me the milk,” Logan said through gritted teeth. “Now let go!”
“I can’t!” May whispered, desperately trying to yank away.
Logan seized the carton with both hands and ripped it away, spilling milk onto the floor.
May wrung out her hand as Logan pursed her lips in embarrassment.
“What’s the opposite of butterfingers?” Logan asked quietly.
“I don’t know,” May said, taken aback.
“Well, whatever it is, you’re it!”
Getting to school that day only increased May’s feelings of dread. After the fiasco this morning, she could only hope that she didn’t become a walking magnet.
“Just be cool,” Logan told her on their way to the lockers. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”
“Yeah, if I don’t embarrass myself in front of the entire school,” May hissed.
She stopped at her locker and twiddled the dial. She gave the lock a yank and she swung the door open.
“See?” Logan said. “You’re all good.”
May felt that strange tingling again and she turned on the spot, instinctively raising her hand to catch a football half an inch from her face.
May froze, admiring all the ridges and bumps on the ball’s surface before a boy jogged over.
“Nice catch,” he said.
Logan nudged her from behind, and May lowered her arm.
It was Isaac Xerxes, her crush since eighth grade. Curly black hair tumbling over his forehead, pale green eyes, prominent ears, lean and muscular, May couldn’t even form a coherent thought in his presence.
“Thanks,” she breathed.
“You play football?” Isaac asked. “Or are you more of a rugby girl?”
“Actually, I’m more of a basketball girl.”
“Really? I never would’ve guessed.” His mouth quirked up in a smile. “Let’s see you throw,” he said, nodding at the ball in her hands. “I’ll go long.”
“What, now?” May said, but he’d already taken off through the crowd to the opposite end of the hall.
He turned and walked backwards a few more steps, then held up his hands, indicating he was ready.
May shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, debating whether or not this was a good idea. He was a good twenty yards away and missing the target was not an option. If she hit anyone in the head, she’d be in detention for life.
“Go on,” Logan whispered.
May took a deep breath, raised her arm, and threw.
The ball sailed through the air, a perfect spiral and Isaac caught it solidly in both hands.
In an instant, Mr. Wyatt, the grade eleven chemistry teacher, was at his side and Isaac hastily hid the ball behind his back.
“This is a hallway, not a football field!”
Wyatt raised his head to spot the thrower and May and Logan quickly ducked behind a group of sophomores.
May waited a moment before peeking and saw Isaac give her a thumbs-up.
“He likes you!” Logan squealed.
May could only beam.
The rest of the day went by in a blur without a hitch. May flew through all her classes and Isaac actually caught up to her later, insisting that she join the flagged football team.
May and Logan talked non-stop about him all the way home, joking about their wedding and how many layers the cake would have.
They finally got back to the foster home and pushed the door open.
“May!” Krissy said, running over. “Our ball got stuck in the tree outside.”
“Again?” May said in exasperation. “You really need to work on that jump-shot, kiddo.”
“Balloon!” Abigail gushed happily from the floor. She held a big purple balloon by the string, shaking it up and down in her excitement.
Logan gasped, her face lighting up. “Where’d you get that?” she said in her classic talking-to-babies voice.
“They were selling them in the park,” Krissy explained. “Come on, May,” she said, tugging on her arm.
“Uh oh!” Abigail said.
She’d let go of the string and the balloon flew up to bump against the ceiling high above.
Abigail stood and reached up, her little fingers groping at empty air.
“May,” Krissy said insistently.
“You know what,” Logan said. “I’ll get the ball, you get the balloon,” she told May.
Logan and Krissy hurried out the back door and into the yard.
Abigail started to whine, giving May a pleading look with her big sad eyes.
“Don’t worry, I got it,” May said, straightening her shirt.
She crouched low, swinging her arms back, and launched herself straight up. She swiped at the balloon string, but it was just out of reach. She landed firmly on two feet and cocked her head back, hands on her hips.
“It’s alright, it’s alright,” she said to Abby. “Just give me a minute.”
May jumped again and the end of the string slipped between her fingers.
By this point she was considering a chair, but she knew she could reach it. One more, she thought.
May propelled herself skyward and suddenly she was on the ceiling, upside-down, low on her belly, hands splayed, elbows out, her hair standing straight up.
“Aaah!” she cried out.
She looked down to see Abby gazing avidly up at her, mouth lolling open.
How was this even possible? She was defying gravity itself, holding on with nothing but her bare fingertips!
She heard the screen door roll open and in came Krissy, Brenda, Hallie, Fiona, Kelly and Logan with a basketball tucked under her arm.
Their jaws dropped. Under any other circumstances, it would’ve been hilarious.
“May, wha—? How –? I’m done!” Logan spluttered, dropping the ball. “I can’t even …”
“Spider-Man!” Abigail said, grinning.
“No, it’s May,” Brenda said.
“May, what the heck is going on?” Logan demanded.
“You think I know?” May cried. “‘Cause I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do this yesterday!”
“How is she supposed to get down?” Hallie asked.
“Yeah, about that …” May said, swiveling her head around to take in the scene. “I don’t think I can.”
“Get the broom,” Kelly said grimly.
“What, are you going to hit her down?” Krissy demanded. “Think, woman, think!”
“Well, I don’t hear any better ideas!”
“Um …” Logan said, scanning the room. “Get a chair, get a chair!”
Fiona and Hallie quickly dragged one over from the kitchen table and positioned it beneath May.
Logan stood on the chair and reached up.
“Put some cushions on the floor. All around here,” Kelly ordered, gesturing to the floor around May and the other girls quickly grabbed some off the couch.
“Come on, May, reach,” Logan said, fingers outstretched.
May pried her left hand off the ceiling, and reached for Logan’s hand. The tips of her fingers were just millimeters away.
“Almost there, stretch,” Logan prompted.
Logan stumbled backwards off the chair, falling into Kelly’s arms just as May lost her grip and fell to the ground, sprawling across the cushions.
The others whirled around to see Miss Edna at the foot of the stairs, looking horrified, Tricia hovering behind her.
Tricia gave a snort of laughter. “Freak show.”