An ambulance comes for Penny, and Melody’s mom and dad go with it. Mrs. V takes Melody out of the car and into the house and comforts her. Mrs. V tells Melody the accident wasn’t her fault, and that she should be proud of trying to prevent it, but Melody blames herself. Melody thinks if only she wasn’t mad at Penny, and if only she hadn’t made her mom take her to school, nothing would have happened.
Melody’s concern for Penny mirrors concern about Penny’s health during Melody’s mother’s pregnancy. A key difference is Melody’s mother was worried she somehow caused Melody’s disability and would somehow cause Penny to become sick, whereas here Melody is putting the blame on herself.
Melody first worries that Penny will die, and then worries that Penny’s brain will get damaged and she’ll end up like her classmate, Jill. Melody tells Mrs. V that she wishes she had been in the accident, and she claims that no one would miss her. Mrs. V argues back, saying that she would miss Melody, as would her parents. Melody also remembers Ollie, her goldfish, whom she was unable to save when he jumped out of his bowl.
Penny’s accident brings up Melody’s feelings of helplessness in the face of disaster, like when Ollie died and she was unable to save him. More than anything Melody wants to be able to communicate, and she especially wants to communicate to prevent those she loves from getting hurt.
Melody wishes she were normal, even though Mrs. V says that Melody is special because she’s unique. A phone call from the hospital interrupts the conversation — Penny has a broken leg and some internal injuries, but she’s going to be okay. Melody reflects that “normal doesn’t suck at all.”
Melody explicitly wishes she were “normal.” Although this wish comes specifically in the context of trying to prevent the accident, Melody is also thinking about how if she were “normal” many of her other problems would be fixed—she’d be best friends with Rose and she’d be in D.C. with the Whiz Kids team. Mrs. V tries to convince Melody that she’s unique because she’s not “normal,” but Melody sees that her disabilities are a burden, and she isn’t sure that being unique is important enough to her that she wouldn’t want to be “normal” instead.