...because life is delicious

Finding Burpasaurus

Aug 15, 2017 | Middle grade, Short Story

illustration by Joanna Shen

– The Notice –

Cassidy gaped in disbelief as she read the notice before her. Her heart pounded in her chest and the hairs on her arm stood stiff.


Hello Cassidy,

Thank you for using our library. Last week, Exciting Egg Recipes was returned to us with pen markings. Unfortunately, pen markings are permanent and will be seen by all future borrowers, so we must replace the material. It is our policy to charge patrons a $100 fee if a damaged book needs to be replaced.

Please pay $100 to the Library Desk.

You will be blocked from access to all library services until the debt has been paid.

Please take better care of our library materials while they are in your possession.

Thank you.

The Librarian


Cassidy marched into the school library with the letter crumpled in her hand. “Excuse me, but I did NOT damage the book.” She hissed through gritted teeth. “I have never written in a borrowed book and I would never do such a thing.” She slammed the notice on the desk. “I can’t believe this notice was sent to me… I’m the class president!”

The librarian wrinkled his nose disapprovingly as he glanced up at her. “Well, Ms. Class President, if you could please lower your voice… I’ll take a look at it.” He plucked the crumpled letter from Cassidy’s trembling hands and skimmed it over. “Do you have any proof that you didn’t write in the book?” he asked.

Cassidy looked around and saw some of her classmates pointing at her and whispering in hushed tones. She lowered her voice. “The book had doodles drawn in it before I borrowed it. I can show you if you bring it out.” Cassidy bit her lip. The librarian paused to look at her, as if trying to gauge if she was telling the truth, and then found the recipe book and slid it onto the counter.

Cassidy flipped through the pages and pointed at a sketch of an egg in the margin. “Look here…” She tapped on the word “fried” scribbled next to the egg and offered her notebook for comparison. “See? It’s not even in my handwriting!”

The librarian inspected the scribbles in the recipe book and studied the handwriting in her notebook. Cassidy shifted her weight impatiently. He shook his head. “Unfortunately this is not enough evidence that you didn’t do it. If you can bring me the person that did, then I can clear your record and retract the fine.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. My final project for Home Economics is due next week. I need the library to find a recipe for the class!” Cassidy groaned and threw her head into her hands. She could hear her classmates whispering again.

“I’m sorry, Cassidy. Rules are rules.” The librarian leaned back in his chair and stretched out his arm to put the book away.

“Wait, please. Can I see it one more time?” she pleaded. He obliged and handed her the book.

Cassidy turned to the back of the front cover and looked at the names of the people that had checked out the book before her. There was one name that stuck out immediately, and it was the name right before hers. She could barely read the carelessly scribbled letters: Burpasaurus.

“Thank you for your time.” Cassidy smiled her sweetest smile (in case her classmates were still looking) and spun on her heels to exit.


– Burpasaurus –

“Burpasaurus!? What a ridiculous name!” she fumed, stomping down the hallway. “It must be some stupid boy. He’s the true culprit. How dare he ruin my reputation.” She shook a fist. “If I get less than an A+ on my final project, it will be his fault!”

That night, she tossed anxiously in her bed trying to think of ways to find this “Burpasaurus”. Should I post flyers in the hallways? Ask my classmates? No I must not let anyone know of this fiasco. Cassidy threw her pillow over her head and screamed. She wasn’t able to sleep that night, not even for a second.

The next day, Cassidy’s best friend, Alice, came up to her after class and squeezed her shoulders. “Hey, what’s wrong? You’re all mopey today.”

Cassidy couldn’t help but tell Alice what happened with the library.

Alice’s eyes widened. “Which egg book?” Her forehead wrinkled. “I mean… Wait, why would a boy want to check out an egg recipe book?” she quickly added.

“Hm… good question.” Cassidy folded her arms. “Well, my Home Economics and Science teachers are combining classes this year to hold a dinosaur-themed potluck for the final project. I was planning on making an egg dish myself, so if ‘Burpasaurus’ had the same idea, he could be in my Home Economics class… or Science class.”

Alice was silent for a moment, tapping a finger on her temple. “Hey, what if you waited until the day of the potluck to see who brings a fried egg dish? Wouldn’t that be him?”

Cassidy brightened. “Oh that’s a great idea! There can’t be that many people who will bring egg dishes. This will be too easy.” Cassidy smirked. “By next week, I will be dragging him to the librarian to clear my name.”

Alice laughed and gave her a hug. “There you go. That’s the Cassidy I know! Go get him!”

Cassidy hugged her back. “You’re always so supportive. How’s saving up for the summer basketball camp going? I better get your signature now before you become famous!” she teased.

Alice gave a two thumbs up. “I’m almost there!”

Cassidy knew Alice’s family struggled with money, but Alice never complained or pitied herself. Cassidy really liked that about her.

“I know you can do it!” Cassidy cheered.


– The Perfect Recipe –

Cassidy spent the rest of the week at the downtown bookstore (since she was banned from the school library) looking for the perfect egg recipe. The teacher said that there would be three awards: Crowd Favorite, Most Creative, and best of all, The Star of the Show.

Her recipe must get the top award. She couldn’t let “Burpasaurus” take the spotlight after what he did!

Determined to win, Cassidy decided to do a twist on beet-pickled eggs. She marinated cracked boiled eggs in a mixture of beet juice and vinegar. When she peeled off the cracked shells, the eggs were covered in veins of red, dyed from the beet juice that seeped into the cracks of the eggshell. They looked like dinosaur eggs!

She tasted one and the faint sourness reminded her of deviled eggs. “I know my Veiny Pickled Eggs will earn The Star of the Show award; they are creative, beautiful and yummy!” she declared.


– The Dinosaur Potluck –

The day of the potluck came and Cassidy kept close track of all students who brought egg-shaped dishes. There were egg-shaped Dutch Crunch bread rolls with crackly tops that looked like spotted dinosaur eggs, egg-shaped rice crispy treats in a bed of chocolate dirt and egg-shaped meatballs. But it seemed like her pickled-egg dish was the only real egg dish. Cassidy checked all the plates carefully but there were no fried eggs to be seen. Was our hypothesis wrong?

Cassidy went to the girls bathroom to secretly text Alice.

“Alice… There are no fried egg dishes! What do I do?” she texted in a panic, leaning her head on the wall of the bathroom stall. Then she heard her name spoken by a group of girls standing near the sinks.

“Hey, did you hear? Cassidy de-faced a library book!” one girl said.

“How could she…? She’s the class president!” another girl gasped.

“Yes, it’s true. She got banned from the library. I saw it myself. I hear she owes $100!” another chimed.

“I wonder if her parents know. They say you can’t trust those goody-two-shoes… it’s all an act,” a fourth girl warned.

Cassidy felt her heart drop into the pit of her stomach. Her hands got clammy and she felt her phone vibrate with a text from Alice, but she was too distracted to check.

When the group of girls left the bathroom, Cassidy let out a breath that she didn’t even know she was holding and cautiously pushed open the stall door.

The walk back to the classroom felt like miles. She took a deep breath, put on her best smile, and entered the room. She pretended to inspect the array of dishes, and nibbled on some things here and there, but she didn’t feel like eating anymore. Finally, Cassidy told the teachers that she felt sick and they let her go home early.

As soon as she closed the door to her bedroom, Cassidy jumped into her bed and sobbed hot tears under the covers.


– The Award Ceremony –

The next day, the winners of the potluck were announced. Cassidy tried her best to look presentable and wore her favorite skirt, but there were still bags under her eyes. The girl with the rice crispy treat eggs in chocolate dirt received the Crowd Favorite. Cassidy nodded in agreement. They were yummy. Cassidy sat up tall in her seat and waited for her name to be called last. She wondered who would get Most Creative.

“And the Most Creative goes to Cassidy’s Veiny Pickled Eggs!” the teacher called out.

Cassidy tried to hide her disappointment as she went to retrieve the ribbon. She couldn’t believe that her eggs did not get the Star of the Show award. To add insult to injury, the teacher started calling out the final award before she could even get back to her seat.

“And now, the Star of the Show goes to… drumroll please -” Cassidy resisted the urge to roll her eyes.

The class eagerly pounded on their desks as the teacher gestured to a boy in the back of the room.

“… Scotty’s Scotch Eggs!” the teacher announced.

Eggs? Cassidy was sure that she saw no eggs at the potluck except hers. She looked up in confusion at the boy walking up the aisle to receive his award. He was skinny and tall, with brown hair and glasses. She never noticed him before.

“Your Scotch Eggs were a huge hit! For those who don’t know what a scotch egg is, it is a boiled egg wrapped in seasoned sausage meat that is coated in breadcrumbs and then fried. Good job, Scotty! They really looked like dinosaur eggs, too.” The teacher patted his back and the class erupted in applause.

Cassidy clapped half-heartedly while her mind raced. The egg shaped meatballs! she recalled. She didn’t get to try them because she went home early. So there were eggs inside the meat? Cassidy’s face burned. So, not only was this “Burpasaurus” responsible for her getting banned from the library and owing $100, but he WON the Star of The Show award with HIS egg recipe?! Cassidy furiously ripped off a corner of her notebook paper and hastily wrote a message on it.

As the boy walked past her desk, she extended a foot naturally — as if she was stretching— to trip him. He tumbled to the floor. Cassidy jumped up and grabbed his arm.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. Let me help you up!”  As she pulled him up, she slipped the torn note into his hand. She saw his eyes widen as he felt the note and then he stuck it in his pocket and fumbled back to his desk. Cassidy watched Scotty from the corner of her eyes as he uncrumpled it to read the note.

“Burpasaurus. I know what you did. Meet me at the school library entrance at 3:00 p.m.”


– The Meeting –

As soon as the final bell rang, Cassidy was already flying out the classroom. The boy was waiting by the library doors, leaning against the wall with his thumbs tucked under the straps of his backpack.

“Hey, you vandalizer —” Cassidy began.

“My name is Scotty. And what is this about?” he interrupted, looking baffled.

Cassidy didn’t give him time to talk. “Don’t play dumb. How dare you write in the library recipe book. They think I did it and they want to fine me $100! People are talking about me as if I actually did it! Do you have any idea the damage you’ve done to my reputation?” she wailed.

Scotty’s face turned red. He looked embarrassed and a bit amused at the same time as he watched her pace back and forth.  “How did you know it was me?” he asked.

“Your egg doodle and the notes about the fried egg thing that you wrote. Duh!” she sighed in exasperation, throwing her hands in the air.

“Okay, okay. Let’s settle this like adults.” He raised his arms as if in submission. “I’m sorry. I’ll write a letter to library to clear your name. Here…” He gave her a sandwich bag with two scotch eggs in it. “Consider it an apology gift.”

“Th… thank you.” She stood rigid for a moment and then felt the tension in her shoulders slowly seep into the ground and disappear. Her name would be cleared! Her reputation as Class President would be saved.

Scotty watched her reaction carefully and shifted his backpack onto one shoulder. “Sorry for the scare, $100 is quite a hefty fine.”

“Uh. Yea… ” Now that her anger and tension subsided, she realized how rude she’d been.

“Thanks for meeting.” Cassidy glanced at him. “So… why ‘Burpasaurus’?”

Scotty chuckled and scratched his head. “Umm… I had reached the maximum limit of how many books I could borrow, so I created another account under a fake name.”

Cassidy laughed. “I see. But still you should know better than to deface a library book!” she chided.

“I guess I got distracted and didn’t realize I was writing in pen,” he shrugged. “Hey, I need to run to band practice. Let me know later if the library is still after you.”

Cassidy nodded. “Okay. See you in class!”


– The Truth –

Alice tapped her foot impatiently outside Scotty’s house. The sun had set and it was getting dark. Then she heard the fence door creak open and Scotty walked out with a disapproving look on his face. “Hey Alice.”

Alice waved. “Hi Scotty.” She lowered her voice and looked at the floor. “Thanks for taking the hit for me with Cassidy.”

Scotty grunted. “Well, you and I have been neighbors since I moved here in elementary school. I’m happy to help if you’re in a bind.” He sighed and crossed his arms. “… I know how badly you want to go to basketball camp, but there’s got to be a better way than this?”

Alice shuffled her feet, still not looking up. “I promise I’ll pay you back the fee after I get back from camp.”

Scotty frowned. “It’s not the fee I’m worried about. But you hiding the truth just doesn’t feel right.”

Alice stayed silent.

Scotty crossed his arms. “Either way, you owe me big time.”

Alice nodded. After Scotty went back inside Alice sat on the curb for several hours.


– The Confession –

Cassidy laid back in her bed, dressed in pajamas. It was past midnight when her phone rang. It was Alice. She remembered that she ignored a text from her earlier in the day. “Hey Alice! I’m sorry I didn’t respond to your text earlier. What’s going on?”


“Helloooo? Alice?” Cassidy raised her voice.

“H… hey Cassidy!” Alice replied. “Thanks for picking up so late…” Her voice drifted off.

“You’re acting weird. What’s going on?” Cassidy furrowed her brows in concern.


Suddenly Alice blurted out, “I… I DID IT! I was the one who wrote in the egg book. It’s such an old book, I didn’t think it mattered.” She sobbed. “I’m sorry it got you in trouble. I just really want to go to basketball camp, and I was scared to get detention, or get suspended and not have enough money after paying the fine…”

Cassidy’s jaw dropped. “Wait, what?!” She could hear sniffling noises over the phone.

“YOU wrote in the book? But Scotty confessed that he did it! What’s going on?”

Alice took a deep breath and then explained everything. Cassidy listened silently and didn’t speak for several moments, even after Alice stopped talking.

Cassidy sat down, trying to digest the truth of what happened. “I can’t believe you lied to my face. I thought we were best friends.” She felt her voice catch in her throat. “How could you?” she croaked and hung up the phone.

Cassidy wanted to disappear. She felt so alone. Classmates were gossiping about her. Her best friend betrayed her. In her desperation to clear her name, she intentionally tripped, misjudged and berated a completely kind and innocent boy. She felt slighted yet guilty at the same time. She pressed the palms of her hands over her wet cheeks.

How was she going to show her face at school again, especially to Scotty? That Scotty… did he have no pride at all? If he was innocent, why would he pretend that he did it and offer to take the blame? Didn’t he care what others would think of him?

She thought about his casual and easygoing manner. Thinking back, he had the confidence of a superhero, and looked so cool despite his nerdy glasses and disheveled hair. “Must be nice…” Cassidy murmured, “To be free and not care what anyone thinks of you.”

Her phone vibrated with a text. Cassidy glanced at the message that popped up:

“I messed up. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

Cassidy tossed the phone into her laundry basket and spent the night staring at it.


– Friendship –

Cassidy avoided Alice at school for the entire next day. But after school, Alice showed up at her doorstep. Her eyes looked puffy. Cassidy didn’t have the heart to turn her away, but she didn’t want to invite her in either. Cassidy stepped out and crossed her arms. “What do you want?” She was surprised at how bitter the tone of own voice was.

Alice inhaled sharply. “I know you’re angry at me and you have every right to be. It was selfish of me, I know. I just want you to know how sorry I am. I know you work so hard to be the best class president. I was trying to clear your name by having Scotty take the blame… I was trying to protect you.”

“I think you were just trying to protect yourself.” Cassidy retorted and looked away.

Alice hung her head. “Maybe you’re right… But don’t worry… I’ll go set things straight with the library tomorrow and pay the fine.” Alice promised. “I know I was wrong and it was unfair to both you and Scotty.” She clasped her hands together. “Can you forgive me? You mean a lot to me and I want us to stay friends.”

Cassidy softened and sighed. “What you did really hurt me. But you’re my best friend. I know you didn’t mean for things to turn out this way, especially since all you were doing was making an omelette for your mom’s birthday. It’s so weird how everything got so messy and complicated.” She unfolded her arms. “I forgive you.”

Alice threw her arms around Cassidy in a big hug. “Oh, thank you!”

Cassidy hugged her back. “You’re lucky to have such a nice guy as your neighbor. I better go apologize to Scotty for yelling at him… and tripping him.”

Alice smiled. “Yea, I owe him one.”

“Did you know he gave me a couple of his scotch eggs? They were good, very deserving of the Star of the Show award.” Cassidy admitted. She put her hands on Alice’s shoulders and gave her a serious look.

“Hey, I know you are doing the right thing, but if you confess and pay the fine, can you still go to your summer camp?” Cassidy asked.

“It’s okay, I don’t think I’ll get detention. As for the camp, I can try to work more shifts at the restaurant.” Alice quipped.

But Cassidy could tell the enthusiasm was forced.

Cassidy thought about all the times she passed up invitations to go out when it required spending money, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that Alice brought for lunch everyday and her hand-me-down clothes from her older sister. Basketball camp was her dream. Cassidy didn’t want to see her miss out because of this egg fiasco. She had an idea.

“Okay, I’ll bring my family to the restaurant. It’s the least I can do to support you! Let me know when your shifts are.”

Alice teared up. “You’re the best. I’ll give you guys free dessert!”


– The Choice –

The next morning Cassidy waited outside for the library doors to open.

“Ah, it’s you again… the egg girl,” the librarian teased.

Cassidy flinched at the nickname.

After this, I’ll never have the record for being a perfect class president… but that’s fine…

Cassidy slid a check for $100 over the counter. “Yep… you got me.” She nodded at the librarian. “Guilty as charged.”

… as long as I am still Alice’s best friend.

As she turned towards the door, she noticed the gossip girls giggling near the doorway, pointing at her.

“Serves you right,” one of the girls taunted as she walked by.

“You should step down as the class president,” another one said.

Cassidy held her head high as she strode past them and out of the library. She knew who she was, and that’s all that mattered.

Scotch Eggs

makes eight scotch eggs

prep time: 35 minutes
cook time: 5 – 10 minutes
total time: 40 – 45 minutes


10 eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 lb Italian sausage meat

1 tbsp English mustard

1 tbsp fresh chopped chives

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1/2 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

all-purpose flour for dusting

3/4 cup panko or bread crumbs

1/2 cup to 1 cup frying oil


10 eggs at room temperature

1 1/2 lb Italian sausage meat

1 tbsp English mustard

1 tbsp fresh chopped chives

1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1/2 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

all-purpose flour for dusting

3/4 cup panko or bread crumbs

1/2 cup to 1 cup frying oil


To soft-boil the eggs, first bring a pot of water to boil. Lower 8 eggs gently into the pot and boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place into a bowl of cold water. Once cooled, about 5 minutes, carefully peel the eggs.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sausage, mustard, chives, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and mix together by hand. Divide the sausage mixture into 8 balls.

Prepare three small shallow bowls, one with a handful of flour, one with the two remaining eggs (lightly beaten) and the third with the panko breadcrumbs.

Lightly flour your hands. Roll each of the 8 sausage balls into oval-shaped patties about 1/4 inch thick.

Preparing one egg at a time, roll each egg in the flour, place it into the center of a sausage patty and gently shape the sausage meat evenly around the egg until sealed. Roll each meat-wrapped egg in the flour, shake off any excess, dip into the beaten egg and then coat with the panko breadcrumbs.

Repeat the process with each of the eggs.

Heat the frying oil to about 300 degrees F.

Carefully lower a few of the eggs into the oil at a time, cooking for about 4 to 5 minutes. Make sure to turn the eggs or frequently spoon the oil over the eggs to ensure the surfaces fry evenly.

Remove the eggs from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Place them in a heated oven to keep warm while you finish frying the remaining eggs.



Adapted from Jamie Oliver

Author’s Notes

In the kitchen

Frying typically requires a lot of oil to be deep enough to submerge or partially submerge the food to be fried. What do you do with all that oil after frying? It’s possible to reuse the oil once or twice to fry other things, as long as the oil doesn’t look cloudy or foamy and is strained to remove any food particles. The oil takes on the flavor of whatever you are frying, so be sure not to use the same oil to fry fish and then donuts… unless you want fishy-tasting donuts.

The proper way to dispose used oil is to bring them to a recycling center that accepts cooking oils. Use a recycling locator like Earth911 to find a place near you and find out what type of container is approved. My local recycling center requires containers with screw top lids. Recycled oil can be processed into gas or fuels to be used as alternative energy (such as biofuels for diesel engines). If there is no way to recycle the oil, then pour it into a glass jar or other resealable container and throw it in the trash. Never dump cooking oil into the sink or it can clog and damage the pipes.


In the classroom

Is a Scotch egg a Scottish specialty? No one really knows. Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738 and sold it as a portable snack for coach travelers heading west from London along Piccadilly. However, according to The Oxford Companion to Food (an encyclopedia about food), some suspect the Scotch egg to have come from the Mughals in Persia with a dish called the nargisi kofta, where eggs are wrapped with minced lamb and fried, then served in a brown, yoghurt-based gravy. But Belgium, Dutch, Polish, Brazilian, Indonesian and Lebanese cuisine also have dishes with eggs stuffed inside some sort of ball of meat.


In life

Middle school was an awkward time for me (as it probably is for most adolescents). The fun and wonder from elementary school withered away over the course of middle school as my fear of what others thought of me and my worry of not fitting in grew heavier with each passing year. However, my home economics class (where we learned to sew and cook) remained a bright spot of sunshine. The kitchen was a space where I felt comfortable to just be myself and this experience propelled me to choose a home economics classroom as the setting for Cassidy’s self-discovery.