Miranda meets the kid who punched Sal one day in school. It's the day everyone was working on their projects for Main Street, the scale model of a city block in Mr. Tompkin's class.
Jay Stringer, the class genius, is the head of the project; Annemarie is building a stonewall; Julia is making a UFO; poor Alice Evans is making lumpy fire hydrants; and Miranda is making a playground.
Miranda volunteers to serve as a runner in the main office. Her task, according to the secretary Wheelie (a woman who wheels around in a desk chair and basically runs the school), is to go and fetch kids for dentist appointments.
Dentist? Yeah, apparently the school has one. His name is Bruce. Miranda thinks this is weird, but Wheelie reprimands her for saying that. It's basically for kids who can't afford dentist visits.
Miranda fetches the little kids first, but then she heads to a sixth grade classroom for her next stop: Marcus Heilbroner. Guess who it is! The kid who hit Sal.
Weirdly enough, the boy doesn't even seem to recognize Miranda. In the office he takes out a book called Concepts in Mathematics and begins to read. Miranda guesses it's for advanced kids.
Miranda asks him if he likes math. Marcus affirms and looks at her like she's an idiot. Miranda leaves to make more deliveries, but on her next stop to the dentist office he's still there.
Miranda pulls out her book, A Wrinkle in Time, and Marcus strikes up a conversation about time travel. Clearly he has read the book, though he messes up some of the character's names (this annoys Miranda).
The gist of the conversation: Marcus says that there's a problem with the book. The ladies at the beginning of the story tell the kids they'll be back in the garden five minutes before they left.
So? What's the problem?
Well, according to Marcus, the ladies lie because if that were actually true the kids would have seen themselves returning to the garden. (Yes, it makes our heads hurt too – just like Miranda's).
Miranda says that that doesn't make sense, and Marcus tells her that, according to Einstein, "common sense is just habit of thought." (14.62). Sometimes it just gets in the way of truth, he tells us.
Um…Ok? (Don't worry if you don't know what Marcus is talking about. Mysteries will be revealed.)
Miranda figures out that Marcus really likes math – or "physics" as he says (14.72). He wrote a report about it in the second grade. (Boy genius?)
Miranda gets called back to class and leaves Marcus in the dentist office.