Jasmine was walking home from school with her brother Micheal and her best friend Anna. Anna’s birthday was coming soon, and she was hoping to have a big party this year. “Maybe we’ll rent a bouncy house or ponies or go to the zoo!”
Micheal rolled his eyes. “Or maybe you’ll rent a spaceship and you can go to the moon.”
“Stacey had a bouncy house at her party,” Anna said.
Micheal laughed. “Your mom will just have cake and ice cream and you’ll play musical chairs, just like you do every year.”
“Well, I’m not inviting you this year. I’m going to write it down so I don’t forget.” She checked her backpack. “All my pens are at school. Jasmine, do you have a pen?”
Jasmine checked in her backpack. “I have a pencil, but the lead is broken.” She looked around. There was a pen on the ground. She picked it up and handed it to Anna. “Here, use this.”
Anna made a face. “That was on the ground. I’m not touching it. It’s probably covered in germs.”
Micheal laughed again. “You should see your face. I can’t believe you’re scared of dirt.”
“What is wrong with you?” Anna glared at Micheal, and then she turned to glare at Jasmine. “And you never say anything when he’s mean like that.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Jasmine said.
“It’s because she secretly agrees with me.” Micheal folded his arms across his chest and smirked.
“Micheal!” Jasmine turned to look at her friend. She cringed. Anna looked furious. “I don’t agree with him. I don’t!”
“You’re an awful friend.” Anna shoved her arms back through her backpack straps and shrugged it on. “I can walk home by myself. You’re both not invited to my birthday party. You’re so lame that you don’t even have your own parties. Why should I invite you to mine? I hate you.” Anna stomped away.
Jasmine looked at Micheal. He shrugged. “You’re not missing out on much. Her mom’s cakes always taste like perfume mixed with smoke. And you hate musical chairs.”
“That’s not the point. She’s my best friend.”
Micheal laughed. “Ex-best friend.”
Jasmine’s eyes stung as they filled with tears. She clutched her backpack in one hand, the pen in the other, and she ran home, leaving Micheal behind. At home, she darted past her mom and ran up the stairs, shutting her bedroom door behind her.
She dropped her backpack and looked at the pen in her hand. It didn’t look particularly dirty. She sighed. Maybe she could write Anna a note to apologize and hand it to her. Maybe Anna wouldn’t rip up the note right away.
Jasmine sat at her desk and ripped a few pages out of the back of a notebook. “To my friend Anna, Anna, Bo Banna…” Jasmine stopped and looked at her page. Did she really write that? She couldn’t give something like that to Anna! Anna would probably hate her forever.
She crumpled up the page and started again. “Banana Fanna Fo Fanna…” Well that was even worse, and definitely not what she intended to write. Maybe Anna was right and the pen really did have germs.
She left it on her desk and went to wash her hands. When she returned, she used a different pen to write her note. “Anna, I’m sorry. Micheal is always a meanie-head. Let’s ignore him tomorrow. Still friends?”
She hurried downstairs. “Mom, can I take some apology cookies to Anna? Micheal was mean to her today.”
Mom looked up from whatever she was doing at her desk. “Yes, but you can’t stay over. It will be dinner soon. Do I need to talk to Micheal?”
Jasmine shrugged. “I don’t know. He was being his normal self, but he hurt Anna’s feelings.”
Mom nodded. “I’ll talk to him later.”
Jasmine put some cookies in a sandwich bag and folded up her note. She crossed the street to Anna’s house and left the cookies and note with Anna’s mom. Then she trudged back home.
Upstairs, there was someone in her room, sitting at her desk. It looked like a little girl in a long black dress, until she turned around. Then Jasmine could see that even though her hair was dark, the woman was old. Very, very old.
“You found my wand? And you used it?” The old woman glared at Jasmine.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jasmine looked over her shoulder at the door and considered how quickly she could run. The door closed on its own with a gentle click. Jasmine turned back to look at the old woman, who was probably a witch, feeling just a little bit scared.
“Of course you do. It’s right here on your desk.” The witch pointed to the pen Jasmine found on the way home from school.
“That’s a pen,” Jasmine said cautiously. “Not a wand. But you can have it if you want it. I think it has germs.”
“My wand does not have germs!” The witch jumped from the chair. “Why would you say something like that?”
Jasmine stepped back and held up her hands. “I’m sure it’s a lovely wand. But it only writes weird things.”
“You’re not supposed to write with it. You shouldn’t have even picked it up at all. I just needed to disguise it to hide it for a few minutes.” She pointed at Jasmine. “But now that you’ve picked it up and used it, it’s transferred its loyalty to you. Give it back now.”
“Take it,” Jasmine said.
“I can’t,” the witch said. “It thinks I abandoned it, and it’s throwing a tantrum.”
“Can I hand it to you? Would that work?”
The witch sighed. “I don’t know. Try it and we’ll see.”
Jasmine picked up the pen and handed it to the witch. The witch waved it, and a wide-brimmed black hat appeared on the desk. The witch smiled. “It works,” she said.
“That’s good,” Jasmine said. At least someone was having a good day.
The witch put the hat on and looked at Jasmine. “You look like you could use a general good luck charm.” She drew a four-leaf clover in the air with her wand and muttered something. Jasmine suddenly felt lighter. The witch nodded, drew a spiral in the air, and disappeared.
Jasmine went downstairs. Mom looked up from whatever she was doing at the stove. “Oh, there you are! Anna brought by an invitation to her party. It looks like she didn’t invite Micheal this year. Did you want a birthday party? I know all your friends have parties.”
Jasmine smiled. “Do you think we could rent a bouncy house?”
Mom laughed. “I don’t think so.”
Jasmine hugged her mom. Bouncy castle or not, this was the best day ever. “Can I call Anna to RSVP?”