No return without receipt.

I glanced to Mary’s smiling face as I selected her present from the dwindling pile in front of me. It was silly, to have a party like this – I was turning seventeen, not seven! Why had she teamed up with my own mother against me? Jeeze – I even recognized some of the brittle wrapping paper left over from years ago, when circus elephants and seals with beach balls were still cool. God, I hoped this little box at least contained something manly, like an MP3 player. Maybe that butterfly knife with the pearl inlay handles I’d been admiring at the mall.

The silver ribbon and gold paper taken care of, I wadded the wrappings into a ball and scored a nice three-pointer in the corner potted plant, ignoring Mom’s frown. “Swish,” I announced, grinning at Mary. She just turned up the wattage on her brace-face smile and leaned forward as I wiggled the lid off the small cardboard box.

“Surprise,” she announced gleefully.

I picked up the white plastic wand, a window in the middle showing a bright pink plus sign.

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