Spelling Bees and Bullies
"Turmaculus. T-U-R-M-A-C-U-L-U-S. Turmaculus,"
"Very good, Jennifer. Now," Ms. Crabtree turned
to Lucy, "Balthazar."
Lucy, a young blue Aisha, thought for a few
minutes, head bowed, brow furrowed.
At last, she looked straight at Ms. Crabtree.
"B-Balthazar. B…..A…..um, L……T-H……A……………S-R,"
Lucy bit her lip.
"I'm sorry, dear, that is incorrect. Jennifer,
can you tell me the correct answer? Balthazar," Ms. Crabtree turned to Jenny.
Jenny rushed her words.
"Yes, Ms. Crabtree. Balthazar. B-A-L-T-H-A-Z-A-R.
"Wonderful, class, we have our winner for this
week's spelling bee. Of course, she has been the winner for the past eight weeks,
it's Jennifer! Congratulations once again, Jennifer, I'm sure Allyson will be
positively delighted! Everyone have a nice weekend, now!" Ms. Crabtree gushed
as the class filed out the door.
Jen turned a deep shade of red. She knew her
classmates thought she was a wonderful person, except on Fridays. Fridays, she
was a vicious speller. She had won every spelling bee since school started.
She also hated when Ms. Crabtree called her 'Jennifer.' It was her name, but
she always went by Jenny or Jen.
She grabbed her Fire Faerie Back Pack and Illusen
Lunch Box, and filed out with the rest of the class.
As she trudged out the school doors, the pretty
Spotted Cybunny pulled on a small green button-down coat. The weather was cold,
so cold. Jenny twisted the deep red woolen scarf Allyson had knitted her from
a Woolen Scarf Knitting Set around her neck. That was much better.
She sloshed through the snow unhappily, feeling
embarrassed at the looks all her classmates had given her. She should have let
Lucy won. She'd had her fame for the last eight weeks.
Jen looked up from her self-scolding, and saw
Lucy hurrying around the corner of the street, draped in a small, thin, torn
cape, clutching a Tatty Notebook and a Tatty Pencil. Slung on her back was a
ripped Punchbag Bob Back Pack. She looked so cold, weary, and embarrassed that
Jenny felt as if her heart were torn in two. Why had she done that?
* * * * *
"Allyson, this is delicious. I'm stuffing myself
like a pig," Glory, Jen's youngest sister, said through a mouthful of Tchea
and Meatball Noodles.
Allyson cooked that night, which was usual. But,
tonight, she had officially finished her Extra Creamy Soup stage. She had cooked
Extra Creamy Soup every night for a week and a half straight. Jenny finally
bought herself a pack of Blueberry Jam Sandwiches that she hoarded in her room,
for after dinner.
After the refreshing supper that night, Jenny
retreated to her room to work on her spelling homework. How cruel that spelling
was the only subject she had homework in. She aced through it, and sat back
in her desk chair, thinking about how sad Lucy looked. She read in books all
the time that poor creatures like that were always good of heart and easily
hurt. This made Jenny feel worse. She vowed that from then on she would make
an effort to reach out, and make Lucy her friend. She dozed off in her chair
for the night.
* * * * *
On Monday Jen skipped happily to school. The
first thing she did after putting her coat and scarf away was to say hello to
"Hi, Lucy. How was your weekend?" Jen asked.
Lucy looked at her like she was crazy.
"Fine, I guess."
"What did you do, silly?"
"Sat around. Read. Did homework. Usual stuff.
Why?" she said suspiciously.
"No reason…" Jenny flopped down on her desk,
confused. Had she come on too strong? Should she be a little bit less…peppy?
She passed Lucy a note in class. It read:
Want to come over after school?
Ms. Crabtree was droning on about the War on
Meridell, and caught Jen flipping the note to Lucy.
"Miss Jennifer!" she exclaimed, "I would have
expected better from you! Detention after school, in my class!"
Jenny turned a deep shade of scarlet. She glanced
over at Lucy. Lucy was looking away from her embarrassedly. Jen was crushed.
She must hate me now, she thought. She hung her head. After school, before she
sat down for her detention, she asked Lucy herself. She shuffled shyly up to
her, and asked in a soft voice, "Hi, Lucy."
Lucy looked at her nonchalantly.
"I was, ah, wondering if you, um, wanted to come
over after my, er, detention," Jen stammered. What an awful thing to hear herself
say! "After my detention." It sounded terrible. She had hardly a sliver
of hope now. She had first totally embarrassed herself in front of this girl,
and then got into detention for passing a note to her.
To Jenny's joy, Lucy looked at her in a blank
way and said, "I guess. I'll wait for you."
Yes! Victory! Now, Jenny thought, are
we friends? Or do we have to bond at my house? Ooh, this could be trickier than
After Jenny's hour-long detention, they walked
to Jenny's home in silence. Jenny felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. She risked
a glance at Lucy. Lucy appeared to have no emotion, or if she did she sure didn't
show it often. Jenny made conversation as well as she could, but avoided the
spelling bee as much as possible.
"Wow. A Bride of Frankenstein Usuki," she said,
pointing to the large window in the Usuki Shop they passed.
"Want a smoothie?" Jenny offered. Lucy nodded,
and Jen turned out her pockets. She found she only had enough for one.
"You can have it or I can have it," she joked,
but apparently Lucy took her seriously.
"I want it!" she almost shouted.
"Okay, okay, no need to shout," Jenny said,
walking up to the window and asked for a small blueberry smoothie. Jeez,
Louise, whatever happened to 'sharing is caring?' That was awfully rude,
Jen thought. But I guess she's so poor that she's used to using every opportunity
she gets to eat, she finally reasoned.
When they arrived at Jen's house, they slung
their backpacks on the floor and went into the kitchen. Jen had called ahead
to let her owner know that Lucy was coming, and so Allyson had baked her practically
famous Chocolate Chip Biscuits. Jenny took one, just to be polite and not be
a hog, but she noticed that Lucy took six. Allyson looked a bit uncomfortable,
and so did Jen, but she again reasoned that Lucy was poor and hungry. So she
went along with it and gave Allyson an "I'll tell you later" kind of look. They
"Want to play with Usukis?" Jenny asked. Lucy
They picked dolls. Jen took the Woodland Elf,
her favorite, but Lucy put on a pout and yelled, "I want that one!!" Jen reluctantly
handed her precious doll to her guest. She once again reasoned that Lucy never
got what she wanted because she was so poor, and what was a stupid doll anyway?
It went on like this for the rest of the afternoon.
Lucy got the first turn in Kacheekers, and Jen
had to be It in tag. Jenny was practically forced to watch three hour's worth
of shows that Lucy wanted to watch, and only one episode of hers.
"Okey dokey, well, I guess it's time for you
to go home now. Whew, I'm wiped out! What a fun afternoon!" Jen went on. Lucy
looked at her funny.
"Well, don't I get to stay for dinner?" she
"Ah, sorry, we're kinda low on groceries and
don't have that much in the pantry. You know how it is," Jenny said.
"Oh, I know, all right! No one wants the poor
girl to stay for dinner! They don't want scum like her eating at their respectable
table! Fine! If that's how you want it, fine! Just fine!" Lucy thundered. Jen
looked at her straight on, and made a decision. She was not going to stand for
THAT. She had spent the last of her money on a smoothie for Lucy, watched all
of Lucy's shows, played all of Lucy's games, and now she was supposed to let
this stand? No way.
"Lucy, maybe if you were nicer to people you'd
have a lot more friends and be a lot better to hang out with. You should try
being less selfish and let others have fun, too. When you master that, then
I will invite you over for dinner. Until then, sorry. I will show you to the
door now." Lucy stomped out and ran off without a word. Allyson walked over
and smiled at Jenny.
"Way to go, hon. Way to stand up for yourself.
I guess bullies can come in most unusual forms, huh?"
"Guess they can," Jenny sighed sadly. She'd
really tried to do a good deed with Lucy. But she tried her hardest to make
a friend, and that's all that mattered to her.
And next Friday's spelling bee was coming up.
Who knows what might happen.