My heart drops. I watch as my daughter freezes. She gives no indication that she heard the speaker.
Spell barricade, honey. You know it. I try to communicate my thoughts to her.
She is staring at something, at nothing. I close my eyes and pray.
“Brenda?” the speaker calls her name again, confused. “Don’t you know the answer?”
She does! I want to scream.
My daughter doesn’t say a word.
My throat is closed. I realise that now. I want to speak, but as my eyes scan the crowd, my lips refuse to cooperate. Tears form in my eyes, and I know that my nightmare is about to come true.
Then I see it. My mum stands in her seat and begins to make her way to the front.
Yes, mummy, get me out of here, I think.
But she doesn’t come to me, rather she stops by the judges’ desk and whispers something in their ears.
She stands there for a bit, still talking with the judges. Finally she leaves them, holding something in her hand. She walks towards me, one of the judges follows closely behind her.
They get to me at the same time and I want to fall into my mother’s arms.
“Ssssh, baby. Don’t cry. You got this.”
I shake my head, because my voice refuses to cooperate.
“You do. Remember what I told you? Pretend they are not here. Pretend it’s just me and you,”
“I…can’t,” I croak.
“Okay, so this is what we are going to do. I will help you pretend. I am going to blindfold you with this handkerchief. Once I put it over your eyes, I want you to pretend in your mind that no one else but you is here. Okay?”
“Will…it…work?” I whisper.
“Absolutely,” she says.
Her confidence makes me confident, and I nod.
She ties the handkerchief over my eyes and suddenly everywhere goes black.
Brenda’s team does not win the Spelling Bee – a member of her team missed out a word at the last minute and there is an uproar, from teachers and students alike. I am proud to say that my baby girl spelt every word correctly after I blindfolded her.
I heard one of the parents whisper that the blindfolded girl was aspecial needs child.
I wanted to correct her, to jump to my daughter’s defense, but I
figured it doesn’t matter.
Yes, my baby is special but she gets the job done.
“Congratulations, baby,” I throw my arms around her.
She squeezes me hard.
“Thank you, Mummy. I love you so much! You helped me! Thank you!”
Oh snap, I can’t stop the tears that spring out of my eyes.
“It was all you, baby. I am so proud of you.”
I loop my hands around her shoulders, she’s growing taller, her
head stopping at my shoulders.
“Let’s go and celebrate the champion!” I say.
I don’t care what anyone else says, we may not have won the Spelling Bee, but we have won something more – freedom!