Zafara Bee Champion
“Moooom! I want to go outside and play with Sammy!”
A young voice could be heard from inside the living room of a quaint Neohome in Neopia Central. It was William the blue Zafara. In his arms, he was clutching his trusted and loyal Petpet, a green Puppyblew. William’s expression twisted into a pout as his mother, a pink Zafara, entered the room.
“Did you finish all of your homework? What about your chores?” the petite female Zafara inquired as she tapped her foot impatiently upon the hardwood floor. “You know you have to finish homework and chores before you do anything else. It’s for your own...”
“I know, I know. It’s for my own good.” William’s eyes narrowed as he hugged his Puppyblew even tighter. Finally, he sighed and placed the Petpet next to him on the couch. “Fine. Right after that, I’m going outside.” The Zafara grudgingly pulled out his homework from his backpack and started working. Sammy barked loudly and paced around on the fluffy couch.
The pink Zafara smiled. “Good for you.” She watched her son for a moment before returning to the kitchen to prepare dinner.
Within an hour, William appeared in the kitchen, where he found his mother reading the latest issue of the Neopian Times and the smell of freshly baked bread perfuming the entire area. “I’m done!” the Zafara said with a broad grin, and plopped his school books down on the table. “Sammy and I are going to play outside now. Bye!” The Neopet waved his paw at his mom. However, just as William was about to leave, the pink Zafara spoke once again.
“Wait one minute,” she said rather seriously.
William jerked his head around. “What is it now?” he whined. The green Puppyblew in his arms also whined. The young Zafara was beginning to realize that he would never get to go outside today.
“William, look what I found in the Neopian Times.” She held out the paper so that her son could see. It was an advertisement for some sort of competition.
The blue Zafara reluctantly looked at the paper. “A spelling bee? What about it?” A frown had crossed his muzzle at the thought of the extra studying that would come with being a participant.
“Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could participate in it?” she said dreamily. “My son, the spelling bee champion.” She looked at William lovingly. “What do you think? You could do it, right?” She smiled encouragingly.
The blue Zafara spat in disgust. “I would have even MORE work. I don’t think so, Mom.” He sighed, noticing it was getting dark out. Mumbling, he pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table.
“All I ask is that you give it some thought, William. I think it would be good for you. The best spellers receive a big, shiny trophy.” The pink Zafara smiled softly to herself.
William’s ears perked as he lifted his gaze from his prancing Petpet to his mother. “Did you say trophy?” His amber eyes glistened somewhat, a kind of spark igniting his active mind.
“Of course. The trophy is something winners get to acknowledge all of their hard work and commitment. However, if you don’t have any interest, then I’m not going to force you to do anything that you don’t want to.” William’s mother stood up and walked over to retrieve the meal she had prepared. She could tell that her son was pondering something already, but would not say anything else about it just yet. The pink Zafara carefully placed William’s meal down in front of him and threw the Puppyblew some leftover bread.
“Thanks, Mom,” the young Zafara said softly as he ate. Perhaps he would have something else to spend his time on over the next few weeks besides homework, chores, and playing outside.
The next day, William came home from school and tossed his backpack aside. He wore a very large grin as he bent over to pick up Sammy and walked over to his mother. “Guess what, Mom,” he said, looking up at her with excitement, his long blue tail swaying behind him.
The pink Zafara looked unsure. “What is it, son?” she asked, tilting her head as she sat on the couch.
“You know that spelling bee thing we talked about yesterday? I think I want to try it. You’ll help me, right? You know, to study and stuff.”
The female Zafara now wore a look of intense pride. “Of course I will. And William, I am so glad you have such an interest in this. It makes me really proud that you’re going to go for it!” She embraced her son in a hug before pulling away and showing him something that she had been working on. “Look at this,” she stated, holding out the item.
“Flash cards.” The blue Zafara recognized the study tools instantly.
“Yes. I made them while you were at school today, just in case you decided you wanted to compete in the spelling bee,” the pink Zafara said. “They have a variety of words on them that are sure to show up in your competition.” She looked very excited. “Isn’t it great, William? You’ll be competing in a contest with Neopets from all over Neopia!”
“That’s kind of cool.” The blue Zafara smiled a bit as he imagined what it would be like to be so well-known. He looked back to his mother. “So, I have no homework tonight. Shall we study?” William plopped himself down on the couch next to his mother, and Sammy the Puppyblew followed suit, nuzzling himself up to William’s side.
The pink Zafara beamed. “Of course.” She directed her gaze to the pile of cards she was holding and cleared her throat. “So, we’ll start easy.” She looked at the first card. “Usul.”
William looked perplexed, but still tried. “Usul. U-S-L-E. Usul.” He looked to his mother hopefully.
She shook her head slowly. “Not quite, but keep trying,” she said encouragingly.
The blue Zafara nodded and pondered for a moment. “U-S-U-L. Am I right?”
William’s mother nodded. “Yes! You are off to a great start!” A bright smile appeared on the pink Zafara’s face.
The two repeated the process of studying by flash cards until it was time for William to go to bed. He hadn’t even realized that he never played outside with Sammy today. Despite this, he was still content. The young Zafara yawned and stretched. “Good night, Mom.” He said, and headed off to bed.
“Good night, William. Get a good rest, and we can study more tomorrow,” she called after her son. In a whisper, she added, “I’m so very proud of you.”
The following day was a little different in this Zafara household. William came home from school in tears and violently threw his backpack aside as he walked in the front door.
The pink Zafara let out a gasp. “William! What’s the matter?”
He turned around before slamming the door to his room. “I don’t want to talk about it.” In his room, he buried his face in his soft pillow.
William’s mother shook her head and followed her son. “Really, what happened?” The pink Zafara rolled William over so that she could see his face, which was stained with tears.
“I... I can’t do it, Mom. I can’t...” His face contorted once more in a fit of tears.
“What, William? What can’t you do?” The pink Zafara was persistent.
“The spelling bee, Mom! I’m nowhere near as good a speller as the other Neopets at school! I’ll never win, and I’ll never get a trophy.” The blue Zafara sniffled a bit as the crying gradually subsided.
William’s mother gave him a comforting hug. “Yes, you can. I know you can. We’ve worked so hard already, and you can only get better from here. You’re a smart boy, William. You will win that competition.”
The blue Zafara was quiet for a moment, and then nodded weakly. “I guess you’re right. I can do it.” He smiled as Sammy jumped up on his bed and began to lick his face. William giggled a bit. “Stop it, Sammy.”
The pink Zafara laughed. “Look, even your Petpet believes in you! Come on, let’s go to the kitchen and study a bit more over dinner. That competition is in just two short days!”
William nodded, wiped the last of his tears from his face, and followed the Puppyblew and his mother out to the kitchen. There, the two Zafaras had an evening of yummy soup and fast-paced flash card studying. Not to their surprise, the young blue Zafara spelled every word without any difficulty.
In the morning, William was surprised when he woke up to see his mother’s worried face. “Wake up, my son! There’s been a change! The spelling bee is today!” She shook the blue Zafara gently to get him to wake up. “Get ready! We need to be at the competition on time.”
“What?” William rubbed the sleep from his eyes and nodded once he understood. Just as his mother left the room to prepare to walk him to the spelling bee, he got himself ready and put Sammy on his leash. The blue Zafara hopped to his feet and ran quickly out the door to where his mother was. “I don’t think I’m ready!” William exclaimed.
“Yes, you are ready. I see it in your eyes. And Sammy and I will be right there in the audience as you spell all those words correctly!” The pink Zafara rubbed William’s head with a smile. “Look for us in the front row.”
Before long, the three had arrived at the spelling bee competition. It was a little intimidating at first. There were many contestants as well as a large crowd of audience members, but the eager young Zafara quickly got used to it. He put on a confident expression. “You’re right, Mom. I am ready.” With an enthusiastic leap, William made his way into the competition and got directed to his place on the stage. Once there, he quickly spotted his mother and Petpet in the front row of the audience. He waved at them just as the announcer appeared before him and the rest of the contestants onstage.
“Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the seventh annual Neopets Youth Spelling Bee!” the scholarly-looking Korbat announced to the audience. “This competition will consist of a series of words to be spelt that range from easy to hard in difficulty. Each contestant will have to consistently spell each word that is assigned to him or her correctly. If a contestant spells a word incorrectly, he or she will have to exit the stage and drop out of the competition. The last remaining contestant will win the competition, and will have earned themselves a trophy.” The Korbat proceeded to turn his back to the audience to face the three neat lines of contestants before him. “We shall now commence with the spelling bee!”
The announcer Neopet pulled out a pile of cards with words on them, just like the ones William and his mother had used to study. When the blue Zafara saw these, his confidence was instantly raised. He listened intently as the first and second contestants spelled their words. By the time it was his turn, William was very ready.
The Korbat pulled out the card that had William’s first word on it. “Usul,” he stated simply.
William was ecstatic. He spoke with the utmost confidence. “Usul. U-S-U-L. Usul.”
“Correct!” exclaimed the announcer, and the process was repeated for each remaining contestant. Soon enough, the competition was down to just William and two other contestants. The young blue Zafara was in the top three of his first-ever spelling bee. He spotted his mother and his Petpet in the audience, who appeared to be overjoyed. This just boosted his confidence even more.
When it was finally his turn again, it was just him and a very intelligent Kougra left. William was nervous; he did not think his odds of winning were very high. The Korbat went on to give the Zafara his word. “Kadoatie.”
William could feel a drop of sweat slide down his face. This word certainly was a difficult one, but the young Zafara’s spunky personality would not let him give up. “Kadoatie. K-A-D... O...” The entire audience seemed to hold its breath as the blue Zafara onstage pondered to himself. Finally, he continued. “...A-T-I-E! Kadoatie!” William had to stop himself from literally jumping out of his seat from the joy of this accomplishment. However, he soon realized that in order to win, the Kougra next to him had to spell his word wrong. William sat still as the Korbat gave the Kougra his word. “Puppyblew.”
William stifled a gasp. That was so easy! He looked to his only remaining competitor, and was surprised to see that the Kougra was struggling with this word.
“Could you please repeat the word?” the Kougra asked in his scratchy voice.
“Puppyblew. Definition: A small, loyal type of Petpet,” the Korbat replied calmly.
The Kougra nodded. “Puppyblew. P-U-P-P-Y...” A long pause ensued after these first few letters. The Korbat announcer seemed to show impatience with the Kougra. “Go on,” the announcer said.
The Kougra continued. “P-U-P-P-Y-B-L-U-E! Puppyblew!”
“That is incorrect,” the announcer said to the Neopet sitting beside William. “The correct spelling is P-U-P-P-Y-B-L-E-W.” The Korbat turned to face William as the Kougra left the stage.
“Congratulations, William! You are the winner of this year’s spelling bee!” At this, two female Lupes arrived onstage from behind the curtain carrying a large, shiny gold trophy. They presented it to William and left the stage, leaving behind a roaring, ecstatic audience. “Enjoy your trophy. You’ve earned it,” the Korbat whispered to the blue Zafara with a wink before leaving so that people could get pictures of William with his new trophy.
After most of the audience had left, and things had quieted down at the competition, the pink Zafara and the green Puppyblew met William on the stage. The pink Zafara had happy tears in her eyes. “What did I say, William? You are a winner.” She wiped her eyes and gave her son a tight hug as the Petpet pranced merrily around William’s feet.
The young Zafara pushed his mother away and looked up at her. “Mom, I couldn’t have done it without your help. Thank you so much.” William’s smile couldn’t have been any bigger as the two Zafaras shared one more hug, a picture of which would be seen in the next issue of the Neopian Times. The headline would read, “A New Spelling Bee Champion Is Born!”