So, I started this fic almost a year ago while I was playing Marcy in a community theater production of Spelling Bee last summer.
It starts right after Logainne's elimination from the bee.
Hope you guys like it. Feedback is always appreciated.
UPDATE: Hi, guys! This actually got more positive feedback than I was expecting. I haven't been working as diligently as I should be, but here is a little bit of an update to hopefully keep you interested. Thanks so much for reading!
Tears streamed down Logainne's face as Mitch gently led her out of the gym. How could she be so stupid? She worked so hard to win at district, to make it to the county finals, just two eliminations away from Nationals, only to get out on a little three-letter word. How pathetic. Dan Dad would be so disappointed. And what would Carl Dad say? She was terrified to find out.
Mitch must have felt her shaking because he stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned to face her. "Hey, hey, it's okay, Schwarzy. You did your best. And there's always next year."
"Yeah, I guess." He didn't get it, but at least he was trying. He slipped a juice box into her hand, and she bit back a sob as he caught her in a bear hug. She pulled back and he brushed a tear from her cheek before she could turn away.
As she made her way down what seemed like the longest hallway in history, she heard Mitch's voice behind her call, "Hey, baby girl." She turned to look at him over her shoulder. He gave her a nod and said, "Keep it real." She couldn't help but giggle a little.
"Thanks, Mitch." He gave her a smile, then headed back toward the bee. As soon as he was out of view, her face fell back into an expression of sorrow. She appreciated his concern, but he would never understand what losing means to someone whose family is constantly pressuring her to live up to expectations.
Suddenly, off in the distance, she heard a girl's voice yelling in a language she didn't understand. Curiosity pulled her toward the sound. As she drew closer, she swore she recognized the voice. She didn't know what the girl was saying, but she sounded angry.
She turned the corner and was shocked to see Marcy sitting on a bench outside the main office, screaming into a very high-tech-looking cell phone. There was more emotion on her face now than Logainne had seen through the entire bee. Dominated by anger, there were also traces of hope and glee. She must be talking to her parents, Logainne thought. For a moment, she wondered why the Parks weren't there scolding their daughter in person, until she looked around and realized that her dads were also nowhere to be found. That was not a good sign.
Marcy yelled a word that Logainne didn't know, though she was pretty sure it was a swear, and launched her phone into the wall, effectively ending the conversation. Her head fell heavily into her hands and she began muttering to herself in yet another language. Logainne took a silent step closer, stealthily trying to see if she could figure out what Marcy was saying. Before she could catch it, her pen fell from the protector-lined pocket on the breast of her jacket. She winced as it clattered on the floor. Marcy looked up with a gasp, and Logainne's breath caught as well, though for a much different reason. She suddenly found herself staring into a pair of eyes that reminded her of a clear night sky; black as pitch but sparkling with the light of a thousand distant stars. Something wholly unfamiliar stirred in Logainne's stomach, a very strange and unsettling sensation. She immediately tried to suppress it as soon as Marcy began to speak.
"Logainne, hi. I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." She gave a half-hearted smile, which disappeared quickly when she realized what Logainne's presence meant. "Oh, Logainne...I'm so sorry..."
A fresh wave of regret swept through Logainne as Marcy's sentiments reminded her that yes, she was still a loser. "It's okay." Her voice came out strained through the tightness in her throat. "There's always next year." The words sounded even less believable when she said them.
Marcy looked about as comforted by the overused phrase as Logainne. "What was the word?"
"Vug," Logainne choked out.
"Ah." Marcy nodded in understanding. "Yep, I've seen some of the best spellers get done in by that one."
Logainne sniffled and wiped her sleeve across her nose. "Really?" It actually did make her feel better to know that such a simple word had tripped up even the big league competitors.
"Yeah," Marcy continued. "It's super annoying. They use it like a secret weapon or something." She shrugged as though they were discussing the weather rather than the recent demise of Logainne's career. She patted the space next to her on the bench. "You can sit down if you want."
Logainne hadn't realized until then just how unstable her legs were underneath her. She sat down on the bench so she wouldn't collapse, and in the time it took her to exhale, Marcy's hand had come to rest on her own. Logainne's stomach began to flutter again. Marcy's touch was electric. Her hand was warm, but roughened by years of various athletics and instrument lessons. She smiled and said, "It will be okay, Logainne. It's not the end of the world."
"Ha!" Logainne scoffed. "You obviously have not met my dads. You don't understand how important winning is to them." Marcy gave her a disbelieving look. "Oh, right," Logainne breathed. "I guess you do know." It abruptly dawned on her that, when it came to family pressures, Marcy knew exactly where she was coming from. Though, while Logainne would have given anything for the chance to go back and try again, Marcy had taken a straight shot to Nationals and thrown it out the window. Logainne was dying to know what had possessed her to do something so ridiculous. She didn't want to be rude, but curiosity finally won out. "Why did you miss that word? There's no way you really didn't know it."
Marcy's expression darkened. She moved her hand back to her own lap, and Logainne immediately mourned its absence. Marcy's eyes seemed to search the floor. Logainne wondered if she thought she would find the answer there. Logainne was already regretting asking the question, but just as she was about to retract her inquiry, Marcy looked up. Logainne's breath caught in her throat; Marcy suddenly appeared as though she had aged twenty years. She regarded Logainne with a blend of amusement and hesitation, smiling sadly before she finally began to speak.
"I'm tired, Logainne." The simple statement rang very true to Logainne. The fatigue was etched so deeply into Marcy's features, Logainne couldn't believe she hadn't noticed it before. "I'm so tired of being perfect all the time. It's been driving me crazy since Nationals last year, and when Ms. Peretti said that thing about me being all business, it kind of pushed me over the edge. I don't want that to be the way that people see me. I don't want that to be the way that I see myself." She paused, and Logainne saw a kind of realization cross her face, as though she were finally seeing the truth in what she was saying. "I guess I just needed to prove to myself that I could make a mistake and be okay with it. I always thought that messing up would mean the end of the world." She locked eyes with Logainne and graced her with a smile so pure, it made Logainne's heart swell with emotion.