Now You See Me, Now You Don't
By Tracey West
Illustrated by Brian W. Dow
Happy birthday to you! Happy
birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Amy! Happy birthday to you!
Amy Izzo tried to smile. The song had started out
strong, but most of the voices had started to fade by the last "Happy
Birthday." Not Aunt Irene's voice, of course. She got louder and louder
as the song went on, and sang the last "you" in as high, rich voice,
like an opera singer.
Amy leaned over the lopsided chocolate cake to blow
out the candles. Twelve pink candles fickered in a circle around the
cake, with a white one in the middle --- for luck.
Not so fast, Amy, Aunt
Irene said. You have to make a birthday wish.
Amy sighed. Everybody knew that birthday wishes never
came true. What was the point?
Sure, she could make a wish. She could wish to be
popular, with lots of friends, so she could have her twelfth birthday
party at the movie theater like other kids did, instead of in her
boring old kitchen with just her family. She could wish for friends to
have sleep over parties with or do homework with.
Amy got lost in the daydream for a bit, then snapped
back to reality. Wishing for friends was dumb. If you had friends, you
had to think of things to say to them, and laugh at their jokes, and
whisper to them when the teacher wasn't looking. Amy wan't good at any
of those things. She was much too shy. No, wishing for friends was
Maybe I should wish for everyone to
leave me alone,
Amy thought. Now that's a useful wish
Amy leaned over once more to blow out the candles.
But her little brother, Mikey, climbed on top of the table before she
could do it.
Mikey's cake! Mikey
cried. Then he blew out the candles. Tiny drops of toddler drool rained
over the chocolate icing.
Oh, isn't that cute,
Mrs. Izzo said. Mikey thinks it's his birthday!
Amy sighed again and slumped back onto her seat. Her
mom thought everything Mikey did was cute.
That's okay, Amy
grumbled. I didn't need a wish, anyway.
Amy looked around the table. No one seemed to notice
her misery. Mikey sat in her mom's lap, shoving cake into his mouth by
the handful while her mom wiped icing off of his face. Amy's dad was
reading a book that rested on his lap, under the table --- but that was
normal. Frank Izzo was always reading a book. And Aunt Irene was
bustling around the kitchen, pulling plates and forks out of the
avocado-green kitchen cabinets.
Aunt Irene cut slices of cake for everone. Amy's had
a Mikey-sized handprint on top. The kitchen was silent while everyone
ate their cake. Then Aunt Irene put her fork down with a clatter and
beamed at Amy.
Isn't it about time Amy opened
her presents? she asked.
Now, usually an eleven-year-old girl who has just
turned twelve would be very excited about opening presents. But not
Amy. She already knew what she would get. Her dad always got her a
book. Her mom always got her a new cardigan sweater to replace the one
from last year. And Aunt Irene --- well, that was another story.
Aunt Irene was everything that Amy wasn't. Aunt Irene
had frizzy red hair, while Amy's was a dull mousy brown and very
straight. And Aunt Irene was always loud. When she walked into a room,
she got everyone's attention. But Amy was as quiet as a mouse, and no
one ever noticed her.
The problem with Aunt Irene's presents is that whe
was always giving Amy things that were very Aunt Irene-like instead of
Amy-like. Last year it was a hot pink dress with feathers around the
collar. Amy could only imagine what this year's gift would be.
Amy opened up ber book and her sweater. Then Aunt
Irene handed her a small box wrapped in shiny purple paper. Amuy had
never received anything small from Aunt Irene before.
Thank you, Amy said,
just a little curious. She tore off the paper and opened the box.
Inside was smaller box covered in black velvet. Amuy
lifted the lid.
A necklasce rested on a cushion of white silk. Amy
had never seen anything like it. A milky-white stone was set in the
middle of a silver circle. Strange-looking symbols were engreaved all
around the circle. The pendant dangled from a thin silver chain.
To her surprise, Amy found that she liked it.
Thanks, Aunt Irene,She
said. Where did you find it?
It's a funny story. her
saunt replied. I was strolling around town one
day and came across a little shop --- Sebastian Cream's Junk Shop. Have
you ever been there?
No, Amy replied. She
didn't ever know it existed.
Well, I told the shop owner I
was looking for a present for my niece, her aunt continued. I described you to him and he said the necklace would
be perfect. It's not my style, but I thought you might like it.
I do, Amy said, giving
her aunt a hug.
Later that night, Amy sat on her bed, examining the
I bet Keesha would like it, too.
Amy sighed again. Keesha has once been Amy's friend.
They were in class together from kindergarten to second grade. But they
hadn't been in the same class for years, and for all that time they
hardly spoke to each other. Now they were in the same sixth-grade
class, but Amy barely had the courage to say hello to her.
Amy stood up. Who knows? Maybe
I will show Keesha, she said aloud. She took the
necklace out of its box and walked to the mirror on her closet door.
Or maybe she'll notice it on her
own, Amy said. After all, it is pertty
Amy put the chain around her neck. She fastened the
And then she vanished.
Amy stared into the mirror. Her reflection has
There must be something wrong with
the mirror! Amy
Amy took a deep breath. She looked down at her body.
She couldn't see a thing. Her legs, her arms --- they
I'm invisable, Amy whispered,
No, that couldn't be. People just didn't become
invisible. It had to have something to do with the necklace. Some kind
of trick. Like a hologram or something.
Amy took off the necklace. Immediately, her refection
reappeared in the mirror. The necklace was definitely responsible. But
Trembling, Amy sat back down on her bed. She turned
the necklace over and over, searching for some kind of answer. She
Amy dropped the necklace on her night table and
climbed under the covers.
It must be my imagination,
she thought. I'll put it
on again in the morning, when I'm not so tired.
But Amy didn't sleep well at all, and woke as soon as
the first rays of morning sun shone in her room. She quickly sat up.
The white stone of the necklace seemed to be staring at her from the
night table, like some kind of eye
Had it all been a dream? There was only one way to
Amy carefully picked up the necklace and walked to
the mirror. She put the necklace on --- and once again became invivible.
Amy took off the necklace and stared at it, her heart
beating fast. She had read enough fantasy books to know that some kinds
of jewels were supposed to have magic powers. Could this really be a
Amy! Time to wake up! her
Amy scanned her room for a hiding place. If this
really was a magic necklace, she needed to find out more about it.
She'd keep it somewhere safe until she got home from school.
Then another thought crept into Amy's mind. A
necklace that made you invisible could come in handy at school. She
could bring it with her in case of ... energency. Like, if it were
dodgeball day in gym class. She could put the necklace on, and no more
dodge ball ... just like that!
Amy turned the necklace over in her hand. Did she
really have the guts to use it?
the necklace to school.
the necklace at home.