The Spelling Bee
Posted on January 18, 2015

Though he didn't really study for the second grade spelling bee, Joshua made it to the top three. As his challenger walks up to the microphone, Joshua's right knee begins to bounce.

"Your word is Parameter."

Katherine repeats the word, combining the first two syllables into one, and takes a deep breath before giving her answer. "Prameter. P-R-A"

The bell rings, signaling her error and sending her to the side of the stage, shoulders slumped.

Kevin walks up to the microphone without a care in the world. Joshua's hands begin to sweat.

"Your word is Monumental."

Kevin, filled with utter confidence, spells his word quickly and smoothly. He sits back down, a wide smile spreads across his face. 

With his heart beating loudly in his chest, Joshua stands and walks slowly to the microphone. His lips touch the microphone and tips the stand over, but he catches it before it can fall to the floor. "Whew!" he says, blushing. 

The audience of parents giggles. Joshua's mother is thrilled she's recording his turn.

Once the auditorium is silent, the announcer speaks. "Your word is Ultimatum."

Joshua repeats the unfamiliar word and looks around at the audience for clues. He gulps, and then opens his mouth and says, "O?"

The bell rings. 

"Okay. Katherine and Joshua, go back to your seat next to Kevin for the next round."

The audience murmurs, confused faces searching for an explanation among the crowd. 

"This is how the spelling bee works with the top three winners. We will continue each round until two of you have correctly spelled a word and one of you does not. That is how we declared the third-place winner. Then, the two finalist will continue to the championship rounds. If only one of you spells the word correctly in the round, you must then spell one more word to win. Is that clear?"

The three students nod though they don't exactly understand the rules. Casually, the announcer looks around the audience, and, upon seeing no objections, continues the spelling bee. 

Seven rounds later, Katherine and Joshua spell their words correctly, but Kevin misspells the word "Arbitrary." He is declared the third-place winner and stomps off the stage with a grunt. Parents chuckle nervously in response and kids laugh at his overreaction. Now it's down to Katherine and Joshua.

The words increase in difficulty, and the next eight rounds are more misspells than correct spellings. Katherine and Joshua are now guessing, getting flustered at words they've never heard of before, and confusing easy suffixes. Instead of waiting to see who would misspell a word, the audience is anxious to see who would be the first to guess the correct spelling. 

A new round begins. It's Katherine's turn.

"Your word is Ambitious."

Katherine sighs and gets it wrong. She takes her seat obediently and waits for Joshua to follow her dance: stand, walk to the mic, speak, walk back, sit. 

Joshua waits at the microphone with his hands in his pockets.

"Your word is Candidacy."

Joshua's eyes light up. He read this word recently in a graphic novel, and he remembers asking his mom what it meant. The panel in the comic appears in his head, with a bony creature talking to another bony creature about his "candidacy for town mayor." 

"Candidacy. C-A-N-D-I-D-A-C-Y. Candidacy."

The audience releases a collective sigh. After thirty minutes of watching the two finalist get everything wrong, there was finally a correct answer. 

"Okay Joshua. Now this is the championship word. If you get this right, you are in first place. If not, we will continue another round. Okay?"

There is a shuffle among the parents, who have been waiting patiently for the spelling bee to end so they can go about their day. With his hands rubbing against his beige cargo pants, Joshua nods, taking a deep breath through his nostrils.

"Your word is Proportional."

Joshua bows his head and thinks for a moment. Preporsion? No. Portion is P-O-R-T-I-O-N. So maybe P-R-E-P-O-R-T-I-O-N. But I got the bell when I said P-R-E for Premotion, so maybe it was Promotion and not Premotion. So maybe it starts with P-R-O and then ends with A-L. 

"Proportional. P-R-O-P-O-R-T-I-O-N-A-L." Joshua smiles once he notices the bell hadn't rung. He repeats the word once more, his cheeks turning beet red.

The audience claps as the announcer declares Joshua the first place winner for the second grade spelling bee. He shakes Katherine's hand, both happy the spelling bee is over, and walks off stage to the announcer for his prize: a ribbon, a certificate, and a gift card to Toys R Us.

When his mom meets him at the front of the auditorium, she gives him a high-five.

"Can you believe it, Mom? Candidacy! Remember? In Bone, Out From Boneville!" 

"I know!" his mother said, smiling from ear to ear.

His classmates shake his hand like old friends, pounding him on his shoulder and congratulating him on his victory. As they file out of the auditorium, Alex, who would have been in fourth place if there was one, asks, "How did you know the word 'Candidacy'?"

"I read it in Bone, Out From Boneville."

"What does it mean?"

"It has something to do with racing mayors."

"What's a mayor?"

"How should I know? Let's go. We have to get to class before the bell rings."

~ * ~

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog and your comment :) Cute story; brought back memories of spelling bees when I was younger in class, but always that nervous anticipation if you would spell the word correctly.



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