Prologue: Don’t Blame Me, Blame the Butterfly Effect Ever heard of the butterfly effect? It’s part of chaos theory, which we learned about in sixth grade science. For the record, calling it chaos
is a huge understatement. It’s more like total flipping madness. The butterfly effect is this mind-bending idea that one small change in the world, like a butterfly’s wings flapping or a panda turning over in its den, can trigger a crazy, unexpected chain of events that can lead to something huge and unpredictable like a tornado, an earthquake, or, in my case, spontaneous combustion in middle school. Let me break it down. A panda turns over in its den, and that’s it, deed done, the panda goes back to sleep and absolutely nothing in the world has changed, right? Uh, wrong! Totally wrong! Turns out, that panda can rock the whole world with one innocent roll of its fluffy little body. Because when the panda turned over, its furry butt nudged a small stick out of its den; the stick began to roll; it knocked a rock loose, which in turn dislodged a bigger rock, which caused an avalanche of rocks to cascade down a mountain and into the sea, leading to a huge tsunami that hits the shore in Japan and wipes out an entire seaside village. Crazy, right? But it can happen. Trust me. I know. It happened to me. One little bitty thing knocked my whole world out of whack, metaphorically speaking. And I’m still recovering from it . . . But wait. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Before I go any further, I need to go back. Two months, to be exact, to the night before the first day of school.