The weekend after the accident Melody’s mom spends nights at the hospital with Penny, and Mrs. V takes care of both Melody and her father, who is so shaken by the accident that he can barely take care of himself. Melody worries about Penny’s injuries. She’s glad to her from Mrs. V that Penny won’t need a wheelchair, and that there are no signs of brain damage.
Mrs. V shows how important she is as a member of Melody’s extended family as she takes care of both Melody and her father.
At school on Monday Melody feels ready for anything. After the trauma of her weekend, the quiz team hardly matters. As she wheels into H-5, she suddenly feels differently about her friends in the class. Each of them, Freddy, Ashley, Willy, Maria, Gloria, Carl, and Jill have a special talent or interest or skill and not one of them even knows how to be mean. Melody realizes that she doesn’t know where she belongs.
Melody’s classmates in H-5 are her community. She accepts them and they accept her. However, Melody feels torn between her H-5 community, where everyone is kind and seems to understand her, and her academic classmates, who don’t respect her, but who intellectually stimulate her.
When Melody goes to Mr. Dimming’s class, he is clearly uncomfortable. Rose won’t make eye contact with her and everyone is uncharacteristically quiet. Melody asks bluntly “Why did you leave me?” Together the quiz team explains that they didn’t plan to leave her behind, instead they got breakfast without her and then rushed to the plane. Melody wonders why they had breakfast without her, and if they intentionally got together without her. Rose says no, but Claire says that they were worried she’d slow the group down (even though Melody points out that the group didn’t leave Claire behind when she threw up in the restaurant).
In this moment, the Whiz Kids team confirms what Melody has long suspected—that although she was on the team she wasn’t considered part of the team. Even though she helped them win the regional competition, her physical disability prevented her team from trusting or valuing her. Melody also points out the group’s bias against her, because even when Claire was sick they didn’t feel the need to shut her out.
When Melody asks why no one told her they were getting on the plane, Rose admits that she had Melody’s phone number, but the whole team decided not to call her. Mr. Dimming and the team try to apologize by giving Melody their 9th place trophy. Melody starts laughing and knocks it onto the floor where it breaks. She tells the class she doesn’t want it, and wheels herself out of the room.
Even though Melody had believed Rose to be her friend, it is clear that Rose never fully thought of their friendship as deep and real, and didn’t feel that they were equals, as friends or as teammates. After her traumatic weekend, the Whiz Kids team seems less important to Melody. The consolation prize isn’t important to her anymore, partly because she’s been reminded of what is important in her life, and partly because she no longer feels like a participating member of the team.