The Whiz Kids team practices almost every day for the next two weeks. Six kids, instead of four, are allowed on the team for the competition, and Melody makes it, as do Rose, Connor, Elena, Rodney, and Molly. Claire is upset that she’s an alternate and she claims it isn’t fair, although Melody reflects that Claire doesn’t know anything about life being unfair.
Melody again earns her spot on the team, but as we find out later in the chapter, it’s still not enough for her team to fully embrace her. Claire’s ignorance reminds the reader that just because someone is able bodied and apparently healthy doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily be kind, empathetic human beings.
Melody has never been on a trip away from home before, so she is extra excited to travel to Washington. The night before she’s set to leave, she buys a stylish new outfit and thank you cards for Catherine and Mrs. V for helping her prepare. Melody can hardly sleep. She wonders if Rose is nervous too, and she thinks about how much she wants to sit with Rose on the plane just like the other girls.
Almost greater than her excitement for the trip is Melody’s excitement at being a member of the team and getting to ride on an airplane with her friend, all things that make her feel more like a “normal” girl.
The next morning, Melody, her mom, her dad, Mrs. V, and Penny drive to the airport and arrive at the check in desk right on time. Although they’ve made sure to get there early in case of emergency, the woman at the desk explains the flight has been cancelled because of weather. The next flight won’t get into Washington until after 9pm, which will be too late for Melody to compete. Melody’s mom is furious. She asks what happened to the rest of the Whiz Kids team, and the woman at the desk explains that the rest of the team had eaten breakfast together and arrived at the airport extra early. They were then able to switch to a different flight, avoid the storm, and make it to the competition.
Melody is devastated by the news that she can’t get to Washington, and the news that her teammates were getting together without her. Although Melody is an important member of the Whiz Kids team and everyone knows it (whether or not they choose to acknowledge it), it’s clear that her team felt uncomfortable enough around her that they chose not to spend time with her and not to tell her they switched flights, which they knew meant Melody would have to stay behind.
Mrs. V, Melody’s mother, and her father try to figure out what happened. Mrs. V wonders if Mr. Dimming left Melody on purpose, and her mother hopes that “surely they wouldn’t have left her behind on purpose.” Melody’s father is so angry he punches a brick wall. Melody feels stupid, angry, and helpless. Her mother and Mrs. V try to comfort her, but there’s nothing they can say or do to make Melody feel better.
Melody’s family hopes that Melody was left behind by accident, but whether or not it was accidental, Melody understands that she was not respected enough as a member of her Whiz Kids team for them to make an effort to guarantee she’d be at the competition.