Go here to see SNEAK PEEK #1.
This excerpt is from Chapter 6. It's a hot May afternoon and Andi is stuck at the chalkboard trying to figure out how to parse a difficult grammar sentence, while Cory is agonizing over a confusing math story problem. The two have just whispered a promise to help each other out, since Andi loves math and Cory loves words. He seals the promise with a wink, much to Andi's surprise and embarrassment. A loud noise startles her.
Andi dropped her chalk and spun around, Cory’s bold gesture forgotten. She heard scuffling, a loud clatter, more shrieking, and then a sharp slap. The next moment, a thin, straggly girl appeared at the top of the stairs. A rough hand propelled her farther into the classroom. She tripped and fell, then jumped up and clenched her fists. “I ain’t goin’, Ty!”
A large, scruffy-looking man with a dark beard and a slouch hat clomped behind the girl and grabbed her arm. “You’re goin’.”
The girl balked. She planted her bare feet against the wooden planks and tried to twist away from the man’s grip. Clumps of tangled, dirty hair flew about her shoulders as she struggled. Her oversized overalls had been cut off; the ragged edges swept the floor. She lashed out with one foot, but the man was quick. He landed a sharp smack to the girl’s cheek.Then he turned and faced Mr. Foster. “Howdy, Teacher. Macy needs schoolin’. Mebbe you can learn her somethin’ afore the term lets out.”
Macy jerked loose and folded her arms across her chest. “This here’s a hoity-toity school, and I
Ty, who Andi figured must be Macy’s older brother, shook her. “Shame on you! What a way to act your first day of school. What’ll these kids think of your upbringin’?”
“That I ain’t got any.” Macy looked around the room defiantly. “Look at y’all. A bunch of toads with your mouths hangin’ open.”
Andi, whose jaw had dropped at the spectacle, snapped her mouth shut. Next to her, Cory chuckled under his breath. “We’re in for a show,” he whispered. Andi agreed. This interruption was much better than dividing up a sentence into its parts of speech. To Cory’s left, Davy Cooper put down his chalk and grinned.
Ty gave Macy another shake. “I’m gonna leave ya here, girl. If I find out you’ve run off, I’ll take a strap to ya. Hear me?”
At this dire pronouncement, Macy lost her fight and become sullen. “I hear.” She glared at the spellbound pupils. “What’re y’all lookin’ at?”
The entire class turned back to their work, except for the three students at the board. Andi watched with interest while Mr. Foster licked his lips and approached the strangers. “I am Mr. Foster, the schoolmaster. And you are . . .”
“Ty Walker. This here’s my sister. We’re new ’round these parts. Macy’s wastin’ time hangin’ ’round the saloons and needs to—”
“Ain’t true,” Macy cut in. “You just don’t—”
Ty clapped a hand over his sister’s mouth and grimaced through his unkempt beard. “I’d best warn you. Macy’s not strong on mindin’ her manners. It comes from havin’ no ma, but only a pack of scruffy brothers to keep company with. We ain’t too good at raisin’ no girl-child.”
Macy peeled Ty’s fingers away. “I ain’t no child!”
Ty scowled. “Just do what you’re told.” He turned on his heel and clattered down the steps.
Macy’s shoulders slumped when the door at the bottom of the stairs slammed shut. “You can’t make me learn nothin’,” she challenged the teacher from under filthy, too-long bangs.“That remains to be seen,” Mr. Foster said.