Given the present TV series with clever kids who can spell impossible words, years ago I wrote a short story that became part of the collection called “My Horrible Cousins and Other Stories.” It’s too long to place here but if anyone wants to read the rest send me a comment
After our Year 6 teacher Mr. Griffin (everyone calls him Gruff because of his voice) saw a world-wide Spelling Bee on TV, he decided our school should hold one too. He worked hard at raising interest. In the end he had six schools competing and ‘D.Y.O. Hardware’ donating the prize to Marina’s best speller.
Back then Gruff claimed I wrote in a language not yet invented. He’d growl, ‘Lucy, you’re the worst speller I’ve ever met.’ But he mentioned the Spelling Bee to Alwyn’s Mum who told Jack’s who told Kianna’s who told mine. Marina is like that. Course Mum was at me to compete, even though I kept telling her I was hopeless. It didn’t matter how often I read a word, two minutes later I’d forget what it looked like. No way did I want to show the world what a bad speller I was. I mean, don’t people confuse bad spelling with ‘stupid’? I’m not stupid. I just can’t spell.
I almost had Mum convinced when Dad heard that the winning prize was a family ticket to the final cricket match between Marina and Broderick, plus an overnight stay at Broderick De Luxe Hotel, all expenses paid.
Apart from being a keen cricket fan, my dad loves inventing things. He spends all his spare time in the shed he turned into a laboratory. That night after tea hauled me inside, sat me down and said ‘Lucy, spell cat.’
‘C-A-T,’ I said.
‘How about ‘Not.’
He let out a sigh of relief. ‘At least you’re not completely hopeless.’ He mulled this over. Then, ‘How about weather?’
‘W-E-T-H-A,’ though I knew that wasn’t right. The following week he spent every moment he was home from work in the shed and we hardly saw him. I just kept hoping he’d forgotten that Spelling Bee. Guess I should have known better. Meanwhile Gruff worked our class through the dictionary. First thing every morning he’d ask us to spell words like interrogator, interlock, and interject. I was the only one who didn’t join in. He knew I was hopeless.
The only kid who got everything right was Melissa. She was an ace speller. Even though she had long dark curly hair, huge velvety brown eyes and skin so clear you almost saw through it, even though she was the most popular kid in Marina Primary, whenever she saw me she’d say loudly, ‘There goes Freaky.’
I never answered back. You see, I figured that being short and not nearly as developed as the other girls in my class, plus not being able to spell, did make me a freak.