Sunday, October 11, 2015
1st 5 Pages October Workshop - Cushing Revision 1
Name: Emily Cushing
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Title: RACE TO BUTCH CASSIDY’S GOLD
Whenever Mom and Dad point to the couch and say, “Sit down, Maggie, we need to talk,” I’m like, Please, no. Because I know when I hear those six little words something terrible is coming.
Bad Things I’ve Learned at Sit Downs:
1. Grandma June died. Not only did we share the middle name “Maria”, but also a love of Hungarian goulash, a knack for winning card games, and an obsession with historical figures.
2. We weren’t going to Graceland over Christmas break to visit the house of Elvis Presley—one of only two rock stars on my list of “Top 50 Famous People I Would Have Loved to Meet.”
3. I wasn’t getting a metal detector for my birthday. Mom and Dad said it just wasn’t in the budget. How cool would that have been to explore the gully with Bandit (the stray dog we’ve adopted) searching for hidden treasures?
4. Aunt Lori and Uncle Rick were getting divorced. Super sad for my cousin Jake.
Sowhen my parents pointed to the couch and told me to sit down I was like, “I don’t think so.” I knew what they were up to and I refused to play that game. I figured if we weren’t sitting then we couldn’t have a Sit Down.
I was wrong.
You don’t have to actually be sitting to hear bad news. Even if you’re standing (and even if it’s in the kitchen—super far from the couch), they still tell you.
Dad rested both palms on the kitchen counter and leaned in. “There’s something important we need to discuss.”
I jumped into panic mode. They were moving forward with the Sit Down even though I had refused to sit. I needed a Plan B. Fast. I hummed loudly and scanned the kitchen for anything that might stop him from talking. My eyes landed on a bag of microwave popcorn. Maybe if I couldn’t hear him, he wouldn’t be able to tell me. I opened the microwave, threw in the popcorn, and slammed the door, loudly punching each button as I turned it on.
Mom cleared her throat. “Maggie, please listen.”
I scrunched my face, cupped my ear, and shook my head. “What? Can’t hear you.” I pointed at the microwave. “Popping noises. Too loud.”
Dad’s mouth formed a straight line and Mom folded her arms. “We can wait,” she said.
“All night,” Dad added.
I sighed and hit the stop button on the microwave. “Fine.” I slumped onto a wobbly wooden stool. “Let me have it.”
I held my breath and waited. Dad glanced at Mom and she gave me one of those you-know-we-love-you-but-this-
is-going-to-hurt smiles. “It just hasn’t worked out, Sweetie. We’re going to have to move back to the city.”
My chest tightened and my eyes darted to Dad, hoping he’d say it wasn’t true, but his shoulders dropped. “I talked to my old boss at the accounting firm and they have a position opening up on.”
I bit down on my bottom lip. I focused on the colorful photos on the refrigerator, trying to hold back tears. This could not be happening. Not now. Grandpa Jim just hung a tire swing in our backyard, Jake and I had summer passes to Wild Waves Waterpark, and I had drama class with my two BFF’s in the fall. Plus, Dad would have to go back to his old job. Which meant I could kiss eating chocolate chip ice cream with him before bed and spontaneous weekend trips to the lake goodbye. I didn’t want to go back to that busy city life and Dad’s crazy job. Especially since Jake told me, “My dad was gone a lot for work, too. Then one day he was gone for good.” I couldn’t imagine Dad divorcing Mom or leaving us, but Jake said that’s what he used to think about his dad, too.
But the very worst part about returning to my old school in the city was bullies like Harriet Nerdin. I hated Harriet, but even more I hated myself for never standing up to her. Like the time she stole all of my Halloween candy. Or when she cut the strings on the ukulele I had made for music class. Or when she dropped my handmade Christmas ornament out the classroom window and laughed as it shattered into a million pieces—I kept quiet, too afraid to do anything. As hard as I tried, I never really fit in in the city. I didn’t even have to try to fit in here.
One of the greatest days ever was last summer when we moved to Hollister—the best small town this side of the Mississippi—and Mom and Dad started the whole one-year experiment to see if they could get a commission for their sculpting.
• Commission: when an artist gets paid to sculpt.
Super big deal for them. Super good move for me. But they still haven’t gotten a commission, which is cray-zee because their sculptures are cuh-razy good.
I shifted my eyes from the fridge and stared at my parents. “I’ll give back my Snap Cam.” It was a camera like those old fashioned-y ones that gives you the picture right after you take it. I had been begging for one for months and they finally gave me one yesterday for sixth grade graduation.
Mom shook her head. “It won’t help, Sweetheart.”
I puffed out a large breath of air. “Well then, what can I do?”
Dad reached for my hand. “There’s really nothing you can do, Maggie.” He squeezed. “Just try not to worry, we’ll take care of it.”
Heat flushed through my body and I pulled my hand away. "Of course I’m going to worry and of course I’m going to try to help us stay. I’m not a baby—I’m twelve. I can come up with good ideas, too." I pushed the stool back and stood. "In fact, you’re the ones that don’t have to worry. Because I will figure out a way for us to stay.” I marched to my room and slammed the door. My seventh grade class schedule for next year flew off my magnet board and onto the floor. I crumpled it, opened my bedroom door, and threw it into the hallway. “I guess I won’t be needing this anymore!”
I have to find a way for us to stay. I just don’t know how. Ugh!
What am I going to do?
I know what I’m going to do!
I didn’t leave my room once last night. Which seemed like a good idea until my belly ached with hunger and my bladder felt like it might explode. But it gave me the chance to formulate a plan.
It's a total long-shot, but we only have 18 days, so it's worth a try. We need money. Now.
When Grandma June died last fall, Grandpa Jim gave me her Famous Americans binder full of facts, pictures, and stories of great Americans. I flipped through it until I found him:
• Famous outlaw of the Wild West.
• Held up banks and trains all over Utah, Idaho, and Colorado with his gang, The Wild Bunch.
• Like Robin Hood—stole from the rich to give to the poor (better fact check this one).
• Hid gold coins somewhere in Utah.
• Gave clues to his family leading them to where the coins might be, but they’ve never been found.
I’m going to find Butch Cassidy’s hidden gold. It's gotta be worth a ton, which means if we can find it, we’ll never have to leave Hollister. Ever.