When you're the kid of a crook, and you live in a small town, you can count on three things. First off, nobody, except maybe your mom, is ever going to ask you to watch their purse. Second, kids are going to make fun of you. Particularly if they live on your street and remember watching the cops come drag your dad away in handcuffs. They just can't help making jokes. You're irresistible. And last, bad luck is going to follow you like a mangy old cat who's three meals behind. Even though I'm only ten, I've had a truckload of bad mojo in my life since my dad got sent to the Big House. I try not to dwell on it, though. My grandpa used to always say you get what you think about, whether you want it or not.
But since I nearly got shish-kebabbed by lightning at my school a couple of months ago, my whole life has changed. Good luck is dumping on me like a blue norther. Like it finally found my address.
"Mom, make her shoot!" Maxey screamed from our driveway basketball court. "She's just standing there!"
"I'm thinking about it!" I hollered back.
"Effie, open your eyes!" Mom called.
I cocked an arm back like I was doing the shot put and fired it. The ball flew right out of bounds.
"Nice try, Effie!" my best friend Nit called, digging it out of the hedge.
Aurora Triboni, my other best friend, trotted up next to me. "That one was kind of better!" She slapped me on the back and nearly sent me flying.
Once I got my breath back, I sighed with pure happiness.
I live in Tyler Wash, Texas, with my big sister, Maxey, who is twelve and a bossaholic, and Coach Maloney, a very excellent high school coach and my mom. She's thirty-seven. The three of us have been on our own since they carted Dad off to prison a few years back. He was an embezzler, which isn't as bad as an ax murderer, but since most of the money he stole belonged to the people in our town, they weren't having any local parades in his honor.
"Time out!" Phil called. She's Maxey's best friend and Nit's older sister. She hurried over to her purse on the lawn.
"Get back here over here! You can't call a time-out," Maxey yelled.
"I need some gum! I'll just be a sec."
"You can't stop the game for gum!" Aurora shouted.
Mom blew her whistle. "Okay, let's take five, girls." She took the ball from Nit and followed us to the lawn, where we collapsed. Except Aurora, who was stretching her calf against a tree.
"Two against three isn't fair, Mom," Maxey complained. She stabbed at her mouth with a lip gloss stick.
"Life isn't always fair, sugar. We'll switch teams after this. You and Effie will play Aurora, Phil, and Nit."
"No!" we both screamed.
My grandpa, who died last year, liked to say that Maxey and I got along as well as "two wildcats in a pillahcase." It was true, even though Mom was trying very hard to work on us. Like making us play basketball or touch football together every Saturday morning. If our friends were over, they had to play too. We all hated it, except Aurora, who loved sports, especially basketball. Just like Mom did. Maybe even more.
I could still hardly believe that just a few months ago, my best-friend count had been a big fat zero. Most girls are lucky to have one best friend. But I have two! First, there's Trinity Finch, whom I call Nit. At our school, St. Dominic's, a lot of kids still call her "HG," which is short for Holy Ghost. She got the name back in third grade, when she started hauling a big ol' Bible around with her. She wanted to read it cover to cover, she said, and it just took her a long time. I think it will probably take a long time before kids stop calling her HG.
Nit can be a tiny bit spooky because she sees things that most of us can't. Not like a fortune-teller who pulls things out of the blue, but Nit sees things that people usually miss. Like that time at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new children's library when Councilwoman Munding started talking really slow and slurry right in the middle her speech. People started whispering about it, but Nit hurried over with a cup of punch and gave her some. Nit figured she was diabetic and her blood sugar had gotten too low. She was right!
She says there are clues all around us if we really look for them. And she can find just about anything. In my school, people used to pray to St. Anthony if they lost something. Now they just ask Nit.
Aurora Triboni is my other best friend, and she is the biggest girl in fourth grade. I don't just mean the tallest. Not only does she have cool black hair under her arms, but all of a sudden, boobs. Nobody else in fourth grade has a chest. Donal, a boy in our class who just moved here from Ireland, said that Aurora had a "pair of puppies playing in her bloose," which is how he pronounces "blouse." Now the boys like to bark at her when she walks past them, even though our teacher told them to knock it off.
Phil dug her brush out of her pink and green sparkly purse. Maxey grabbed it. "Turn around," she said. "I'll do it." She started combing out the tangles in Phil's hair, soft and gentle, though ten seconds ago, she'd been all warrior princess. Hair does that to her. Makes her go all dreamy. She can't keep her hands off anyone's. Maxey has stick-straight white hair and I have crazy, curly red hair. The only way you can tell we're sisters is our round-the-clock fighting.
"Okay, girls," Mom said, passing around a big jug of water and cups. "Drink up. And let's do some stretching." She folded over at the waist, bobbing side to side, her dark ponytail swishing. Mom is nearly middle-aged, but she's really pretty, even without her makeup.
We all kind of ignored her. Except Aurora, who thought Mom hung the moon. She'd even started wearing her hair in the same kind of ponytail, too.
Nit pulled off her Notre Dame cap and poured water over her head. "Oh, that feels good." Nit is skinny; she likes to read more than do sports. Since we've become best friends, though, she doesn't look so pasty. She's even grown a few freckles on her nose.
"Uh-oh," Maxey said. "Here they come! The Comstock Lane Comedians."
She meant the Turner brothers. They're older boys-sixteen, seventeen, and nineteen. They all chew tobacco, rarely mind their mother, and are trying to grow mustaches-wispy-looking things. They'd all been outside playing the day the cops came for my dad. I think it was the highlight of their sorry little lives.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from 10 Lucky Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning by Mary Hershey. Copyright © 2008 by Mary Hershey. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.