Name: Sandra Martín
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Title: The Cuban Flight of Peter Pan
Word Count: 57,000 words
35 Word Pitch: 16yo Cristina comes to the U.S. She adjusts to a new life and remakes herself while hoping for a reunion with her parents who are stuck in Cuba and may not be able to leave.
The Year of Education
“Don’t look at the soldiers, Cristina,” says my best friend Laura. “They can arrest us and our families.”
“¡Cuba sí, Yankees no!” The soldiers scream raising their arms and looking straight at us. Some of them are not older than we are, fifteen, sixteen.
I want to tell the mob to go away and eat their precious revolución but instead I say to Laura, “My parents have warned me not to show dislike for the government.”
“Don’t say a word to them. Don’t get us in trouble by saying something you shouldn’t like you always do.”
The soldiers crowd the sidewalk in front of the school. I squeeze my eyes shut hoping I could blink them away or block the grind from their trucks but instead, I give them a piercing stare wishing I had heat vision like Superman so I could make them disappear.
“Cuidado,” screams Laura as she runs behind a column.
A rock hits me on the forehead above my eye. I touch my brow; my fingers are covered with blood.
“Dios mío, oh my God, you’re bleeding.” Laura gives me a look of helpless panic and then pulls out a handkerchief from her pocket and hands it to me.
I press the cloth against my brow to stop the blood from trailing down. I hope I don’t have a black eye.
“Patria o muerte, Fatherland or Death, 1961, the year of education. ¡Cuba sí, Yankees no!”
“Why they’re doing this today, our first day back after Christmas vacation,” says Laura almost crying.
“They hate anything American and we attend an American school.”
“Why should they care what kind of school this is?”
“¡Qué inocente eres! You’re so naive. Don’t you read or listen to the news? We’re being targeted by these locos, crazies because the president of the United States, broke diplomatic relations with Cuba last week.”
Laura holds her satchel tightly against her chest and walks to the front door of the school. She rings the bell. “I have to call my mother so she can come and get us. We’ve been waiting for this crowd to leave since school let out at four, an hour ago and who knows how long they’re going to be here. Come with me and then we can walk you home.”
“I’m not waiting for your mother, I’m leaving now. I can’t listen to the soldiers screams anymore. We’ve to get away from here before they throw more rocks at us. Let’s go. Your mother can pick you up at my house.”
“How are we going to get through the mob?”
“Pushing and shoving.”
The soldiers lean against the olive green truck with speakers on the roof and play “The International,” a communist song and the anthem of the Soviet Union. The flag of the Castro government, one red and one black stripe with a white number 26 in the middle, covers the hood of the truck. Today the milicianos have company.