The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher outtakes:
In Which the Family Introduces Itself With a Video Recorder:
Dad: Okay, I’m recording! Everyone introduce yourselves.
Sam: [hissing] Somebody say something!
Sam: [whispers]Very funny. You guys, come on! The video is running. We’re going to look like morons. [louder] Um, hi everyone, I’m Sam Fletcher. I’m in sixth grade —
Jax: I’m Jax. I’m in fourth grade, at at the same school. It’s really cool. We have lockers this year, and the cafeteria has ice cream —
Eli: I’m Eli Fletcher. I’m also in fourth grade, but this year I switched to the Pinnacle School. It should be amazing. We have additional research time, and—
Jax: If by amazing you mean amazingly boring! You guys don’t even get real recess.
Frog: Hey! It’s my turn! I’m Frog. I start kindergarten this year and my pet cheetah Flare is coming too. My teacher says she’ll make a special place for him to sit.
Jax: Yeah, a special place called NOWHERE. Because he’s not real!
Frog: He is too!
Jax: Is not!
Papa: CUT! Boys! Enough. This is supposed to sound fun.
Dad: Oops. Is the machine even on?
In Which, In an Earlier Draft, the Fletchers had Thanksgiving in New York City:
Lucy appeared a minute later, looking thoroughly capable of handling all tourists, man-handlers, and crowds. Her cast was a splashy array of signatures, with a pretty impressive drawing of a turkey (done by a very sheepish Dad).
“Okay, people, we ready to trip the lights fantastic? E-man, I want you to walk with me – I haven’t even heard a word about your new school yet. Jax, you got your boots on, right? Forecast is for cold and damp. Sammy boy, grab your brother’s hand. And get your mitts out of the rugelach…that’s the second tin you’ve eaten!”
Within minutes the seven Furnivals* were on their way up Broadway, walking the ten blocks from Lucy’s apartment to the museum. The blocks were almost as interesting as the museum. Street vendors, selling everything from sunglasses to hot spiced nuts were calling to them, and yes, shoppers were pushing by with big bags. But there were also Christmas tree vendors scenting the air with sweet balsam that reminded Eli so much of home for for a short moment he was actually homesick.
A tug on his Red Sox cap brought him back to earth.
“Soooo….tell me! I haven’t heard a word about Pinnacle School! How has it been?” Lucy asked.
Eli swallowed, the homesickness washed away in a wave of anxiety. “I don’t know. It hasn’t been that long.”
“Over two months already. That’s enough to get a good taste at least.” Lucy shot a sharp look at him. Her dark curly hair was cut short and tucked into a bright red and purple knitted cap. With the hat, her red wool coat and the cast she looked like a particularly accident-prone elf.
Eli shrugged, avoiding her gaze by watching a pair of particularly brightly dressed tourists walk by. “It’s fine I guess.”
“Fine I guess,” Lucy echoed in a questioning voice. “In my considered experience, when people don’t want to talk about something, it’s either because it’s too good or too bad. And judging by the look on your face, I’m not betting on ‘too good.’ What’s going on?”
Eli just shrugged again.
Up ahead, Frog had begun shouting for Lucy to come see, quick, because he was walking on the museum wall without anyone holding his hand.
Lucy started to pull Eli forward. “Come on, let’s get up there before your poor Papa has a heart attack. He’s convinced my broken arm is the beginning of a string of bad luck. Very superstitious guy, your dad.”
But before she got caught up to where Papa was indeed trying desperately to position himself under Frog’s wall gymnastics she paused, looking Eli full in the face. Eli could feel his cheeks getting hot.
“What?” he asked. “I’m fine!”
“I’m not saying you’re not fine,” Lucy said calmly, still staring at him. “I’m just saying, call anytime. And also, don’t be so smart that you act stupid.”
“What’s that even supposed to mean?” Eli asked, annoyed. He wasn’t in the mood for riddles, or for questions about school, or really, for anything. Even the museum didn’t sound fun anymore. His feet hurt and he was tired.
“It means, don’t sit and stew over whatever’s bugging you. Talk to me, talk to your Dad and Papa, talk to Sam, but thinking you got no one to talk to…that’s stupid.”
And with that she bounded up on the wall next to Frog, leaving poor Papa looking like he wanted to catch them both before they fell.
In Which, In an Earlier Draft, the Fletchers Went Skiing:
It was amazing how much a day of skiing could change everything, Sam thought, the next afternoon. They had left at dawn that morning and been on the slopes before most of the lazy vacationers had even gotten out of their beds. The snow was incredible, and for the first year, none of the boys were on the kiddie slope. Although Sam was still the fastest, they could all ski the big lifts. And Eli, of all people, was nearly as fast as he was.
As they went up the lift together for the last run of the day Sam glanced over at his brother. Eli’s usually pale face was flushed and his eyes were sparkling. His sweaty hair was sticking up everywhere as he pulled his helmet off to readjust it. Sam realized Eli looked different than usual. He looked…happier.
“You’re pretty sick out there,” Sam said. “You’re keeping up with me!”
Eli grinned. “I don’t know what it is! I’m just…somehow everything you ever told me about how to shift my weight from leg to to leg…it just came together! I love it!”
Sam couldn’t help smiling. The rest of the Furnivals* loved finding moguls and skiing through the trees, but he just wanted speed. Steep and fast, that was what he liked to ski. He couldn’t wait until ski team. Just two more years…
“Maybe you’ll race too,” he said to Eli. “Does Pinnacle have a ski team?”
They were nearly at the top of the chairlift. Eli snapped his helmet back into place and pulled his goggles into place. Before they covered his eyes Sam had seen his expression darken.
“Hey, what’s up? Does your helmet hurt?”
Eli shook his head. “No. The helmet’s fine. And Pinnacle doesn’t have a ski team. It doesn’t even have a soccer team. It doesn’t believe in competitive sports, only in exercise to increase oxygen in the brain. Competition in sports only distracts from the core curriculum in their mind.”
Sam was glad they were at the top. It was time to push off the chair and ski down the slight hill to the start of the real run. It stopped him from saying what he was about to say, which probably would have cheesed Eli off. Calling his school the lamest place on earth was likely to put Eli into one of his cold silent-treatment modes that would last long past the post-ski hot chocolate thawed out the rest of them. He waited for Eli to catch up, tightening his boots.
“So, ready for one last run? Should we race it?” he asked.
Eli looked past him, gazing out at the darkening dull grey sky that promised more snow in the night. His goggles were over his eyes and his fleece gator pulled up to cover his chin, but somehow the little bit of him that Sam could see didn’t look happy.
No wonder he’s not happy, Sam thought. He goes to a school that doesn’t believe in sports!
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Eli said, finally sliding his eyes back to Sam. He smiled, but it didn’t look convincing.
Sam paused before pushing off. “You okay, bud? You look a little…I don’t…I mean, is everything okay?”
But all he got for his worry was a faceful of snow as Eli pushed off past him.
“I’m fine! See you at the bottom!” Eli yelled. And they were off and racing.
*If you are wondering who the heck the Furnivals are, I suggest you go to my FAQ page and find out!