This chapter begins with Melinda observing that she has made it through the first two weeks of school “without a nuclear meltdown.” She now sits at lunch with Heather from Ohio, who even calls Melinda for help with English homework. Every other person she has known for nine years still ignores her and she is often harassed in the halls.
Melinda’s mother is a working mom, so she tends to communicate with Melinda and her father with notes. Melinda says there’s not much to say. Her mother is the manager of Efferts, a clothing store in downtown Syracuse, and is under tremendous pressure to produce sales and keep staff. Melinda fixes her own dinner and eats on the white couch whose stains she hides by flipping the cushions. Then, when her father gets home, everything looks the way he wants to see it and she has vanished to her room.
She notes that her room belongs to an alien. She had decorated it in the fifth grade with roses and the color pink and now it looks demented. She also has a stuffed rabbit collection and a canopy bed, both of which she refuses to give up. She knows she has homework, but the bed calls to her. She insists that she doesn’t ever take a real nap, but only retreats to this halfway place, a rest stop on the road to sleep, where she can stay for hours. She doesn’t even have to close her eyes. She just stays safe under the covers and breathes. She hears her father turn on the TV and then, she sees herself in the mirror. She wonders if she could make a tree out of the shapes of her face and observes how scabby her lips are from biting them. It makes her get up and take down the mirror and put it in the closet.
Melinda’s description of her mother and father indicates that they are not exactly quality time parents. She is an only child and makes us wonder if they ever really wanted her at all. Her mother communicates with her through notes, while her father doesn’t even call her name to see if she is home. This combined with whatever happened to her over the summer makes Melinda look for a place where she doesn’t even have to exist other than breathing. She can’t stand to face reality if she can avoid it, and the sight of her own face is unbearable. She probably bites her lips to keep herself from screaming in emotional pain.
In this next section, Melinda introduces us to Principal Principal who catches another student who is late to class. The kid totally confuses the poor man who demands his hall pass. The student says he is on his way to get one, but Principal Principal insists he can’t be there without a pass. The student responds: that’s why he’s in a hurry, because he needs to get a pass. The man says, “Well, hurry up then and get a pass.” Melinda notes that the Errant Student waves and smiles at Principal Principal and the man walks the other way trying to figure out what went wrong.
This scene is further proof that Melinda is quite bright. The irony is that this man is in charge and can’t figure out how a student pulled one over on him. Melinda finds it amusing. However, it’s an example of her world - a world where she doesn’t fit in, a world where morons like Principal Principal are accepted, while she is Outcast.