i was in the midst of taking my nightly shower when i am taken back to the time when i joined a spelling contest for the first and only time in my life.

it was during sophomore year. when my school decided to add some fun for our celebration of the english month.

there i was; representative of the class for the spelling bee. i hate being onstage, but i don’t remember hating it for once. because it was spelling. english is my safest ground.

then came the culminating day. i didn’t prepare for anything at all because i get mental blocks when i try too hard to remember things i was supposed to have remembered because i just learned them, so i got there practically armor-less except for the few “good luck”‘s my classmates sent my way.

it’s funny that i remember the anxiety – rather vaguely, but i still remember nonetheless. i remember my blood pumping too fast within my veins. i remember my hearing failing me because of the thoughts that collided within me; the continuous panic that surged through me through the whole time.

“oh my god, what if i lost?”

i’m not an exceptionally competitive person, but i sure was that time. it wasn’t really so much of “i have to make my classmates proud” thing. it was more of an ego thing – english is the only thing i’m actually good at and it would be a fucking shame if i lost.

yada yada yada i got out at the first round.

i remember the crowd “ooh”-ing. out of sympathy or something else, i don’t know. but i was walking back to my place at the bleachers when the principal at that time shook my hand for a pathetic congratulations. i thought then it was over. i took two steps forward and she touched my shoulder gently, immediately stopping me from walking and ending up standing shoulder to shoulder with her. she whispered in my ear, “you were very brave for joining.”

i think i teared up then her voice was full of an emotion my mother used for me when times are a little bumpy. but i didn’t look at her; i looked straight on the exit and gave her one firm nod.

“why did you eliminate yourself in the first round?”

it still rings me funny how i managed to act nonchalant about it when it flipped the fuck out of me. i never insisted the thought of me losing on purpose just so i could get out of the stage, but apparently, my classmates thought that was what happened.

it wasn’t what happened at all.

i found myself being stupid and dumbfounded once i sat on that stupid plastic chair, at the very front of the stage, and overlooking the whole high school department watching all these spell nerds in amusement as they attempt to watch as though they were curious.

oh my god. it would’ve been easier if i did  let myself lose on purpose, but i didn’t. and that sensation, that feeling, this memory will never leave me.

sophomore be damned; it was goddamned awful. and i don’t think i’ll ever forget about it.


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