Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Short Story

Another story I wrote; this one is titled NEMESIS

Terry looked up as Marsha crumpled her burger wrapper and expertly tossed it in the trashcan two feet away. “Would you like me to check again?” Marsha asked. “It’s been about fifteen minutes.”

Glancing at her watch, Terry nodded. Principal Hawthorne and some teachers were counting votes in Room 126, not far from Room 123 where she waited. She knew her nemesis was also waiting in a room nearby, accompanied by his best friend, Tom. The campaign had been fun, but tonight she wished she had never thought of running for senior class president.

Steven: she had been competing against him for as long as she could remember, and usually she lost. Her mind drifted back to one of the earliest times she recalled competing directly against him. She remembered how painstakingly she had worked on her picture for the third-grade art contest. In the end, she had to admit the judges were right. She had never been able to best him in drawing ability. Fortunately, she had more musical talent. A slight smile curved her lips. She was often the featured soloist in school shows; Steven was just another face in the choir.

Marsha returned. “It’s good. You’re still ahead, but he has caught up a little.”

“What are the numbers?” Terry spoke a little more slowly than usual, trying to keep the tension from showing in her voice.

“You have 175 votes; Steven has 138. There are only about three stacks left to count.”

Not trusting her voice, Terry nodded without speaking. She glanced down at her largely uneaten dinner. Although she usually liked fast food, most of her hamburger and half her french fries remained. Terry picked up a fry and nibbled as memories of the most painful defeat of all rose in her mind. Her eighth-grade teacher had announced that the school was hosting a spelling bee. She could still remember the excitement she had felt as Mrs. Wood told them that the winner would get his name and picture in the paper, and would advance to the tri-county bee, with the possibility of competing at the state level and beyond. Terry had always been a good speller and was determined to win. For weeks, she had pored over the word lists in the booklet her teacher had distributed.

On the day of the bee, she had felt ready. Her confidence increased as the bee progressed. She was able to spell every word with ease, even words given to the other students. Most were eliminated in the early rounds. In the end, only four remained, including Steven and Terry. Terry was able to spell each of the words her competitors received, but the pronouncer gave her a word that seemed unusually difficult. “D, A, N, S, E, U, Z., danseuse.” Her heart had broken when the buzzer signified her error. Sorrow turned to resentment as she was able to spell each word for the remainder of the contest, including ‘eglantine,’ the word with which her nemesis had sealed his victory. Terry stood up and paced around the edges of the room, avoiding tables and chairs haphazardly left by the departing students earlier that day. She glanced at her best friend, and Marsha rose without speaking and left the room.

They must be almost done with the counting. A sick feeling tightened her stomach. Her nemesis would beat her again. She was certain he would win – Steven the golden boy. Suddenly, she winced at the conviction that her heart and her attitude toward Steven were completely wrong. “I’m sorry, God,” she whispered. “Your will be done. Please help me have a better attitude.”

A few moments later, Marsha rushed into the room, her smile lighting her face. Terry sank into a chair as her friend announced, “You’re still ahead, 216 votes to 189, and they were almost done counting the last stack. You’re going to win!” Marsha threw her arms around Terry and hugged her tightly. Besides Steven, Marsha was probably the only person who knew how much this meant to Terry.

“Do you want me to go back and wait until they’re done counting?”

“No,” answered Terry. “Let’s just wait until they come tell us.”

They did not have to wait long. After several minutes, her twin brother walked in the room, a rueful smile on his face. “Good campaign, sis. You won fair and square. Congratulations.”

Terry stood up and hugged her brother. “Thanks, Steven.”