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“For one thing, that’s not actually cheese,” says the mouse. “It’s Velveeta.”

“I’m gonna admit that I did not expect you to know the difference,” says HG.

“And anyway, you should use peanut butter. That’s right on the instructions.”

“I mean,” says HG. “It did work.”

The mouse whiskercombs dismissively. “Yes, well, you consider me trapped. I consider this a free ride.”

“To the garden.”

“Yes, and be quick about it,” says the mouse, checking what cannot possibly be a wristwatch. “If you still expect a tip!”

HG has real trouble depositing mouse currency, which it turns out later is poop.


Maddy stretches a recipe. Kent fiddles with his father’s old turntable while Destiny sells her aunt’s LPs.

H.G. talks to his cat a lot; Eola writes stories on paper airplanes. Adamkin collects playing cards from the gutter. Landrey does her homework in Sharpie and it bleeds through six looseleaf pages. Annabelle loans her a Bic #2.

Theo died, two years ago, of “complications.” Tally sits in his old desk.

What if there’s exactly one person in the world for you?

What if you’re not the one for them?

Jeremiah scuffs his soles in time to the beat of his iPod heart.


The cat of history, whose name is Mneme, is waiting for H. G. on his apartment stoop.

“Well hi, kitty,” he says. “You want something?”

“I can talk,” she explains.


“We’re making a trade now,” she says gently. “Your destiny is no longer your own: you have a part to play and all your lines are written. In exchange, your life will be a thread in the knot of human knowledge.”

“I refuse.”

“I’m afraid refusal is impossible.”

He laughs. “Prove it.”

“First,” she says, “you’re going to tell me what H. G. stands for.”

“Hyacinth Grace,” he mutters, scowling.