Chapter 3

Fay headed for school, late as usual, not feeling at all sure what good it might do her to have a cereal box coin in her pocket, but she was certain it must mean good luck. So she was surprised when her teacher, Miss Parsnip, announced that tomorrow’s field trip to the Briny Harbor Aquarium (fun) would be postponed, and they would instead visit the Crunch & Barley Breakfast Factory (boring).

But she wasn’t at all surprised, while making macaroni mosaics in art class, when Barnaby Hootsman grabbed one of her noodles, stuck it in his nose, then tossed it back into the pile.

So the day hadn’t started lucky, but there must be something good about having a cereal box coin that your sister and brother didn’t get. During a group project of making a cell model out of jelly beans, she showed the coin to Jan and Franny.

“Spooky picture,” said Jan with a shudder.

“Weird words,” added Franny. “Why isn’t it round? Who smashed it up?”

“It’s not smashed,” said Fay, “it’s a pirate coin. It came out of the Cinnamon Rogers. It’s not supposed to be round.”

“Can you spend it?” asked Jan. “I’m saving up for a Dishy Boys cd.”

“Can you flip it?” yelled Barnaby Hootsman, snatching the coin out of Franny’s hand and tossing it in the air.

What happened next was fast and messy, but it ended with Barnaby on his back, Fay tripping over him, and the coin in Miss Parsnips blazer pocket.

“You know,” said Miss Parsnip with a sigh, “Group projects would be so much more productive if we could just focus on our work.”

At the end of the day, if Miss Parsnip hadn’t been busy showing Judy Fipple how to clean the fish tank, Fay might have been able to ask for her coin back. Instead, by the time she’d listened to Judy Fipple ask Miss Parsnip about eighty-nine show-offy questions, Skipper appeared at the classroom door waiting to be walked home.

So it was in a very grumpy, coinless mood that Fay walked through the front door that afternoon.

At dinner, Mr. LaFarge arranged a handful of tiny vials next to the breadbasket.

“Yuck!” protested Tilly. “I hate when you bring work home with you! You’re going to make us taste?”

Mr. LaFarge seemed apologetic. “The Board of Directors wants me to create an adult cereal, like Barnyard Morning.”

“Barnyard Morning tastes like a stack of poopy hay,” said Fay.

“Pooey hay!” squealed Lynette.

“But adults seem to love its nutty richness,” said Mr. LaFarge with a shrug. He held out a dropper from one of his vials. “Try this Cora.”

Mrs. LaFarge stuck out her tongue, and Mr. LaFarge gave her a drop.

“Tastes…like a tree,” said Mrs. LaFarge with a slight wince. “Tastes like I bit into a tree.”

“Oh…no, wrong one,” said Mr. LaFarge shuffling his vials around. “That’s not the flavor I meant to give you…here Fay, you try this one.”

“I don’t want to try one,” answered Fay. “I always get the ones that taste like doggy doo.”

“Fay,” said Mrs. LaFarge, “that’s not constructive criticism. And if you’re that fond of the subject of doodoo, you can just take Lynette upstairs and change her into a clean diaper.”

A protest almost popped out of Fay’s mouth until she caught her father’s stare. He was on the verge of making a speech. Fay hated speeches. She pulled Lynette out of the high chair and headed up the stairs.

“No Pay, go ‘way Pay,” protested Lynette as Fay laid the toddler down for a change of pants. First, there was the matter of the jar of pureed squash clutched tightly in Lynette’s fist. Fay pried it from the toddler’s grip and dropped it in her sweater pocket. And luckily, the soiled diaper was merely damp.

There was a bright side to today, thought Fay. At least I missed the taste testing session.

She absentmindedly tucked the rolled up diaper into her other sweater pocket, hoping she hadn’t missed dessert.

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