I am out of bed at an ungodly hour in the morning, shuffling down the road with my hands stuffed in my sweatshirt pockets. Eve’s friend at the skate shop texted her earlier about a skate ramp at a yard sale, and she convinced me to go looking for it with her. Caroline sent Nevaeh with us because she doesn’t trust us together.
Jogging after Eve on her skateboard, we cruise down the street past flourishing flower beds and kids playing basketball in their driveways. The chill of the 8 a.m. air makes my legs prickle.
“Almost there,” Eve tells us, swerving lazily around rocks.
“This is the one?” I ask as we slow down in front of a sign advertising clothes, dishes, sports gear, etc.
Eve glances down at her phone, checking the address. “Yep.” She jams it into her back pocket and glides into the driveway. Nevaeh and I trail after her.
I haven’t been to many yard sales in my life, so I’m not exactly sure what to expect. I’d much rather sleep in on weekends than spend my morning digging through other peoples’ stained, mothball-scented junk. But who knows, maybe I’ll find something that makes up for my missing hours of sleep.
The yard sale has already attracted a small crowd. A young woman is rifling through the clothes while a child digs through a box of dolls. A middle aged lady in a bathrobe, probably the person in charge of the sale, sits in a chair and idly sips her coffee while staring at something in the distance. She looks like she’s still half asleep. I bet Eve could pick up the skate ramp and carry it away without paying and the woman wouldn’t even blink.
“There it is!” Eve exclaims, pointing at a scuffed ramp beside one of the tables. We hurry over to get a closer look. Nevaeh drifts off along the way to examine a handmade tea set.
“Pretty nice,” I say, nodding and pretending I know things about skateboarding. “It’ll be cool to have your own ramp so you can practice tricks at home. That way you won’t make a fool of yourself trying something new at the skate park. You know, like you’ve been doing.”
Eve rolls her eyes. “Nice try, Parker. I’ve never made a fool of myself. Ever.” She tucks her board under her arm and heads over to purchase the ramp from the bathrobe-clad woman.
I join my other sister by the table. She’s moved on from the tea set and is now checking the price of a cactus in a terracotta pot. Piled precariously on the overflowing table is a rusty watering can, a dented bike helmet, and a box of wrinkled magazines, but what catches my eye is a tray of cheap toys. I prod at the little plastic figurines with my finger. In the back, half covered by a mini telescope, is a black orange-sized ball. I scoop it up; it’s smooth against my palm.
“Hey, Nevaeh.” My empty hand fumbles to the right and tugs on the strap of her sparkly gold purse. “Look at this. A magic eight ball.”
“Oh?” She sets down the plant and peeks over my shoulder. “Those things are fake, Parker. It’s just coincidence if it’s right.”
“No way. I’ll believe anything a magic eight ball tells me. They know. It’s right in the name, see? Magic eight ball.”
“I’m just saying –“
“Magic, Nevaeh!” When she scowls, I hold it out between us and suggest, “Let’s ask it some questions. To prove to you that it really works.” Shaking it up and down, I say dramatically, “Magic eight ball, is Nevaeh sick?”
I peer anxiously at the window in the ball as the octahedron rattles around inside. Despite not believing in it, Nevaeh is holding her breath, too. The ball settles on maybe.
“I’m not si –” Her protest is cut off by a violent coughing fit.
“Amazing!” I yell, giving the magic eight ball a quick kiss. “Nevaeh, we need to get you to a hospital right away. You could be dying.”
I take her by the hand and haul her to the edge of the driveway. She’s still hacking away into her elbow and looking thoroughly embarrassed when the woman in the fluorescent robe calls after us with a scratchy voice. “Hey! Are you kids going to pay for that?”
Something flutters around uncomfortably in my stomach. I almost stole something. Sure, it was an accident, and for a good cause, but it would’ve made me a criminal. “I don’t have any money,” I whisper to Nevaeh as we slink over to the woman.
“It’s OK,” she promises, and wheezes again. “I’ll pay for it. I have money from babysitting.” She fishes her floral wallet out of her purse and hands over two dollars. “Thank you, ma’am, have a nice day,” she mumbles to her feet.
The woman grunts and takes a long sip from her coffee.
I grab Nevaeh’s shoulder and guide her back to the road. “So. Hospital?”
She isn’t one to fight too much. I can tell that she still thinks her coughing fit is a coincidence, but she goes along with it anyway. “Um, sure. Go tell Eve, please?”
I jog over to where Eve is admiring her new skateboard ramp. She’s running her fingers lovingly over the scratched surface of it.
“Hey, Eve, check it out. Nevaeh bought me this super cool magic eight ball. I know it works because I asked if Nevaeh was sick and she started coughing a ton — like, wow, a ton — and now I’m going to walk her to the hospital or something. Isn’t that neat?”
A crease appears between her eyebrows as she takes in everything I said. After a moment, she glances at something behind me and says, “Nevaeh looks alright to me.”
I sigh. “Yeah, sure, but I swear it works. Watch this.” I pump it up and down again and ask, “Magic eight ball, will Eve fall the next time she rides her skateboard?”
Most likely, it announces.
“Yeah, right,” Eve huffs, stepping onto her sticker-covered board. “I’ve been skating since I was twelve.” She makes to push off, but the second her sneaker leaves the ground, the skateboard shoots out from under her and she’s lying on her back, groaning.
“What did I tell you?” I grin down at her smugly. As an afterthought, I add, “Oh, and are you alright?”
She touches her arm gingerly. Flecks of blood and asphalt stick to her fingers. “OK, so maybe it works,” she growls.
Nevaeh is at Eve’s side a moment later. “What happened?” she gasps, helping Eve to her feet.
“The magic eight ball was right again,” I explain.
“Maybe you should get rid of that thing,” Nevaeh suggests nervously, wringing the hem of her sundress. “I still don’t really believe in it, but . . . I don’t know, it seems dangerous.”
I laugh, tossing the ball from hand to hand. “Get rid of it? Nah, I could predict the future with this thing! Plus, you’ve already payed for it, so . . .”
We both turn to stare at Eve, who shrugs and starts texting. “I don’t care either way.” Her phone dings with an incoming message. “The guy who told me about this yard sale is going to help get the ramp home. We need to stay put for awhile until he gets here with his truck.” She plops down on her skateboard and keeps messing with her phone.
Fifteen minutes later, Eve’s friend, a shaggy-haired, tattooed boy, shows up in a graffitied truck. Eve and I help him lift the ramp into the back. He says he has extra seats and offers to drive two of us home, so Nevaeh and Eve cram in beside him. Pop music blares from the radio as they drive off.
I walk home by myself, rolling the magic eight ball around in my hands. I love this kind of magic, but deep down, I secretly agree with Nevaeh. Her coughing fit and Eve’s fall were probably just coincidence. But part of me wonders if there’s more to it than that, if there’s something else going on. If it really is magic.
I tilt my head back, letting the morning sunshine warm my face. There are clear blue skies as far as the eye can see.
“Magic eight ball, will it storm today?”
Off in the distance, there’s a roll of thunder. I shiver despite the heat.