Today started normally enough -- except that Harriet missed school because of a cold. And we had the final rounds of the sixth grade class spelling bee. The competition had come down to the final three -- me, Hilary Lang, and this other girl, Sasha Moore.
I don't know Sasha at all, I hadn't seen her, even, before today. Harriet told me, though, that she's biracial, that she lives in River Forest subdivision (the wealthy area of town) with Meredith and Marisa.
I tried not to look over at Hilary, but sometimes I wonder how she could always be so well put together.
Mrs. Baldwin looked at me. "Your word is 'cuckold."
I repeated the word. "May I have a definition, please?"
"A man whose wife is unfaithful. Cuckold."
"May I have the word used in a sentence, please?" I have to admit, I had no idea how to spell it.
"Cuckold. K-o-o-k-" I gave a pause. "Cuckold, k-o-o-k-o-l-d, cuckold."
Mrs. Baldwin looked at me. "I'm sorry, Haley, that's incorrect."
I took my seat in disgust. Hilary and Sasha were the only ones left.
Mrs. Baldwin asked Sasha to spell the word. "The word is cuckold."
Sasha stepped up. "Cuckold, k-u-k-o-l-d, cuckold."
Mrs. Baldwin said, "That's also incorrect, Sasha. Now, Hilary, if you correctly spell the word and another word I give you, then you have won the competition. The word is cuckold."
Hilary ran her fingers through her long, silky blonde hair and took deep, heavy breaths. "Cuckold, c-u-c-k-o-l-d, cuckold."
Mrs. Baldwin smiled. "That's correct!"
Suddenly I found myself clapping hard.
"Hilary, if you correctly spell the word 'exacerbate' you have won the Adams Junior High sixth grade spelling bee."
She spelled the word right without breaking a sweat. How does she do it? I thought.
Mrs. Baldwin called Sasha and me back up to receive second and third place ribbons. For winning, Hilary got a shiny gold medal and a chance to compete in the county spelling bee, coming up in two weeks.