They moved over to the shed, out of view of the school windows. Miranda didn’t want to think about what punishments the school gave out now.
“What are we doing?” Cindy put the bag of their lunch leftovers in a low dumpster next to the shed.
Miranda considered the school. The building was taller, not enough for a second floor, but enough to have raised ceilings. She remembered that she used to think the ceilings were too low. “I’ve been thinking about what Dad said. About our powers.”
Cindy didn’t look like she wanted to talk about it.
Miranda pushed on. “I think when we let our minds slip from reality it lets the–” Cindy gave her a warning look. “It lets the one who changed dad change other things too. He messes up stuff when we let reality slip.”
The school didn’t look easy to change. It looked solid and huge. Cindy’s expression ran through exasperated and settled on scared. “That’s not what he said. Your dad said he holds reality together. They asked us to leave before he could say what to do.”
“Dad’s still hiding something.” Miranda looked back at the school. “All my meditation on physical things, on basic laws of nature, I think we can change things back.
Cindy put her hands on her hips. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Nothing makes sense. My dad used to be my mom.”
That was hard to even think about. Dad used to be Mom. What had he–she?–been like before the change? Thinking about the last thirteen years, it didn’t seem like Dad liked being Dad.
Cindy looked dubious. “We just have to remember how it used to be?”
Miranda shrugged. “Maybe if we think about it really hard? What harm could it do?”
“Your dad said we had to be careful we don’t wake up …” Cindy looked around. “you know.”
Miranda felt defensive and angry. “We can’t just leave things like they are.” She put her hands on her hips. “If it works, we’ll just fix a few things before we go.” She made herself not think about leaving Cindy. Maybe she could talk Dad into them all leaving together.
Cindy didn’t look convinced. She looked scared. “Your dad didn’t say I have powers.
Miranda’s head hurt. Why did every conversation with Cindy have to be an argument?
She blurted out, “But you’re a magical being!”
Cindy flinched. “It’s not like I’m a wizard or anything.”
Like always, Miranda had said the wrong thing. Guilt settled in her chest. They still hadn’t talked about Cindy and her dads being created from nothing three years ago. It just hung between everything else they said.
Cindy looked back in the direction of her house. “I don’t think we should be messing with this.” That gave Miranda pause. When had Cindy become the careful one?
“I need your help, Cindy. If we can undo some of the damage. Who knows, maybe we can undo Alice stabbing Dad. We could get out of here sooner.”
“I don’t think it’ll take much to convince my dads to leave.”
Miranda hadn’t thought about what they were going to tell Cindy’s dads. Cindy seemed to be avoiding think about it. How would her dads react?
She put her hand on Cindy’s shoulder. She was starting to feel more comfortable touching people. “Let’s try this just this once. It probably won’t do anything anyway.”
Cindy still looked dubious. She looked at the school. When she looked back at Miranda, she looked terrified, but she said, “Okay, just once.”
The relief Miranda felt was almost physical. She let out a breath. She didn’t know what she would have done if Cindy had said no. She realized that without Cindy to be strong for, she’d probably crumple herself.
They came out from behind the shed. Miranda said, “Okay. Look at the school.”
Cindy frowned and shook her head. “Okay.”
How this would work? “Try closing your eyes.” Miranda did it herself. “Think about how the school used to be.”
Dad had taught her how to do exactly this. She cleared her head and visualized how the school used to be. Not just the outside, but the halls and the desks and the lockers. She remembered the ugly pink linoleum and the teacher’s office door. She even thought about the posters in the office and the school rule book.
Goosebumps raised on her arm. A little breeze blew by. Cindy exhaled next to her.
How long were they supposed to do this?
She Peaked with one eye and looked at Cindy. She was frowning at the school.
Cindy said, “It looks the same.”
It sort of did. Maybe the roof line was different?
She sighed. That was probably wishful thinking.
As if on cue, the door opened and Penny Mosley came out again. This time she let the door bang shut behind her.
Penny was in a cheerleader outfit!
Again, looking left and right, Penny crouched down by a brick next to the door. She pulled the brick out a little and set it on the blacktop.
The colors on her cheerleader outfit were wrong. The school colors were supposed to be blue and silver and this outfit was gold and purple.
Penny pulled a pair of glasses from her waist. Miranda didn’t know Penny wore them. From behind the brick, she pulled out a candy bar. She quickly took a bite of it before she looked over to where Miranda and Cindy were standing.
Penny actually jumped. She whipped off the glasses. “You better not tell anyone!”
She ran back inside. Miranda wasn’t sure if she meant the glasses or the candy bars. Maybe both?
When Miranda looked over to her, “Holy crap” slipped from her mouth.
The tennis courts were gone. They were standing on a blacktop playground. White lines marked a basketball court. Behind Cindy was a playground, but in a different configuration than she remembered.
Behind her, the maintenance shed was gone.
Cindy didn’t look delighted. “Wow.”