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R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, W.1, SL.1, L.5, L.6

The Space Rock

What would you do if a rock that was worth $7 million landed in your yard?

iStockPhoto.com/Getty Images (Book); Andrew Penner/E+/Getty Images (Barn)

    We live on a farm near the town of Rock Creek. My daddy was born and raised on the farm. So was his daddy and his daddy’s daddy.

    I guess you could say that we’ve been here forever, trying to make a living. It’s hard, though. A lot of folks gave up and moved away. They said Rock Creek would be a ghost town in five years.

    Daddy laughed at that. “Ghosts make fine neighbors,” he said. “All I ever wanted was this farm and a good family. I’m staying put.”

    The day the rock fell from outer space, I was feeling melancholy. It was the Thanksgiving holiday. The truck was busted, so we couldn’t go anywhere. Mama and Daddy were worried about money. My sister had a new boyfriend. My twin brother was in our room sleeping.

    I moped into the kitchen and found Mama cleaning the
cupboards. That’s what she always did when we had money troubles. You don’t bother Mama when she’s cleaning the cupboards. I went to my sister’s room. She was on her bed talking on the phone. She told me to get out.

    I wandered outside to the barn. Daddy was talking to his truck. You don’t disturb Daddy when he’s talking to his truck. I walked back outside and called The Dog (that’s his real name). He didn’t come.

Kichigin/Shutterstock.com

    See how it was? One of those blue winter days that goes on forever

    I walked down to the creek. It was mostly frozen. I found The Dog sitting under an oak tree staring up at a tired raccoon. I grabbed his collar and told him to leave the poor raccoon alone. 

    We were standing there, The Dog and me, when I heard it. 

    Boom! Then whump-whump-whump like a flat tire, but louder. Something passed overhead—like a thundercloud but faster. 

    Bam! Thunk-thunk-thunk. 

    Next came a scary quiet. It was like the Earth and everythingon it was holding its breath. I looked down at my hand. I still held The Dog’s collar. But The Dog was no longer in it. He had freed himself.

A Gash in the Earth

    I wasn’t blue anymore. I was scared. My legs were shaking so bad I barely made it to the top of a little hill. Mama and Daddy hollered  for me. But I was too afraid to holler back. 

    Mama was the first to reach me. “What happened?” 

    I couldn’t seem to talk. I pointed at the brown gash in the snow that covered the back field. 

    Daddy showed up, huffing and puffing. He looked at me. “You OK?” 

    My sister came along next, shivering. “What did you do?”

Coldmoon Photoproject/Shutterstock.com

I was still pointing. Daddy studied the gash stretching across the field. He started following it. We followed him. We came to the end and saw a large black rock, half buried in the frozen dirt. 

“Lucky it didn’t hit the house,” Daddy said. 

    “Lucky it didn’t hit Karl,” Mama said. She and Daddy stared at me with a  peculiar look. Suddenly, Daddy picked me up and held me tight like he hadn’t done since I was a little boy. I didn’t stop him. 

    Brother came up. “Space rock,” he said. He was the only one dressed for the cold—coat, hat, mittens. “Wish I’d been awake to see that.” He yanked off one of his mittens with his teeth. He pulled a magnet out of his pocket. (Only Brother would have a magnet in his pocket.) He got down on his knees. 

    “Don’t touch that,” Mama said. 

    He ignored her and stuck the magnet on the rock. The magnet stood straight up. “Meteorite,” he said. 

    “A meteor?” Daddy asked in amazement. 

    “Meteorite,” Brother corrected. “Meteors are what you see moving across the sky. When they get closer to Earth, they break up and become meteorites. There was a meteor shower last night. That’s why I was up so late. I bet I saw a thousand of them.” 

    We all looked up at the winter sky. Brother pointed to the space rock. “That meteorite is worth a million dollars.” 

    Daddy stared at Brother like he had lost his mind.    

The Visitors

    The Dog did not come home for three days. Then he would not go into the barn, where we had put the meteorite. People came by every day, though. Reporters, scientists, people from town. Sometimes they knocked in the middle of the night. “I know it’s kind of late,” they’d say. “But I drove 800 miles to see your meteorite . . . ” 

    Daddy never complained. He took the visitors to the barn to see our rock from outer space. If they seemed hungry, Mama fed them. 

    I started writing a poem about our fallen star. I didn’t get very far, because Daddy couldn’t seem to make up his mind about what to do with the rock. He’d disappear for hours at a time. We’d find him in the barn, all quiet and serious, staring at it. 

    The rock weighed 937 pounds and 4 ounces. It was worth more than a million dollars. Someone offered Daddy 2 million, then 3 million. A man drove up in a big black car holding a check for 5 million. Daddy smiled. “That’s a lot of money, sir,” he said, “but I’ll have to pass.” 

    Sister and Brother said he was holding out for more. I wasn’t so sure. I thought he had something different on his mind. 

Tiny White Box

SKY2015/Shutterstock.com

    We made money selling tiny meteorites. Brother said that little chunks of rock were all over our farm. He talked Daddy into buying a couple of metal detectors. We went out every day with them and picked up buckets of little stars. 

    Three months after the meteorite struck, Daddy called us into the barn. Sitting on the rock was a tiny white box. It had a hole in the top. 

    Daddy pointed at it, then turned to us. “Let’s go for a walk.”  

    He led us to the gash in the field. “If that meteorite had gone a thousand yards farther,” Daddy said, “it would have landed on the Johnsons’ place. Two miles north, it would have landed right in the middle of town.” He shook his head sadly. “That could have been bad.” 

    He looked at us all in turn. “But that meteorite fell on our land,” he said. “And now a museum wants to pay us 7 million dollars for it.”

    That was too much money for us to wrap our minds around. 

    “We have a choice,” Daddy said. “We can sell it, or we can keep it.” 

    “We can’t keep it,” Mama said. “I like meeting new people, but we can’t have them coming at all hours of the day and night.” 

    Daddy smiled. “I agree. If we decide to keep it, I say we move the meteorite into town. The mayor said they’ll build a little museum around our rock. People will visit. We can go see it anytime we want.” 

    “And we would get nothing?” Sister asked. 

    “Rock Creek is broke,” Daddy said. “They can’t afford to pay us.” He looked at Brother. “How many meteorites have we sold?” 

    “Close to 600,” Brother answered. “We have at least twice that many left. And I’ve saved the good ones. Some are as big as your fist.” 

    Daddy looked back at Sister. “You got yourself a car?” 

    “Yes, sir.” 

    Daddy looked at Mama. “You got yourself some new cupboards?” 

    “They’re beauties,” Mama answered. 

razorbeam/Shutterstock.com

    Daddy looked at Brother. “You got yourself that telescope?” 

    Brother nodded. Then Daddy looked at me. “And as soon as summer comes we’re going to put an addition on the house?” 

    “A room of my own,” I said. 

    “We’ve paid down what we owe on the farm,” Daddy went on. “We’ve saved money for college. My truck is fixed. The point is that the meteorite has done us a lot of good.” He looked down and kicked at the dirt. He looked up. “I believe that getting what you need out of something is better than getting all that you can out of something.” 

    None of us said a word. 

    “But it’s not just up to me,” he said. “The space rock belongs to the family. Here’s what we’ll do.” He handed each of us a tiny meteorite and kept one for himself. “Go to the barn one at a time. If you think we should keep the space rock in town, put your meteorite in the box. I’ll go last. If there aren’t five in there, we’ll sell it, no questions asked.” 

Vladimir Jotov/Alamy Stock Photo

    Brother went first, then me, Sister, and Mother. Then we sat in the kitchen waiting. Finally, Daddy came in. He set the box down and pried the lid off. He reached in and pulled out the first meteorite. 

    “One,” we all said out loud. He reached in again. 

    “Two . . .  three . . . four . . .”

    Daddy felt around inside the box, pulled his hand out and opened it. 

    “Five,” he said quietly. 

There’s a space rock in our barn 

that fell to Earth upon our farm. 

People came from near and far 

to see our piece of shooting star.

In the end we had to free it 

because our family didn’t need it. 

There’s a space rock in our town— 

it stopped the ghosts from coming around. 

People come from miles away 

to see the rock that will always stay.

ACTIVITY

Making an Inference

You’ve just read “The Space Rock.” Now it’s time to try this activity.

TipAn inference is something that isn’t stated but can be figured out from clues in the text.

What to do: Imagine that you are Karl. A TV reporter has read your story and poem. Now she wants to interview you. Make inferences to answer each interview question below with at least one complete sentence.

At the beginning of your story, you say that a lot of people had moved out of Rock Creek. Why were people leaving?

It was hard to make a living there. There weren’t many jobs, and there weren’t many people to sell things to.

Why didn’t your family move away from Rock Creek?

When your dad called all of you into the barn, he named some other places where the space rock could have fallen. Why was it important to think about that?

Your family was offered $7 million for the space rock. Why did you turn the money down?

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Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Skills Sheets (4)
Lesson Plan (2)
Lesson Plan (2)