Yesterday's Tomorrow

i. Letters

Dear Mom,

Father's trophy stands proudly on the shelf. The plaque reads 'Putnam County Spelling Bee Champion.' Does that ring a bell, mom? Dad always tells me he won because of you. Every time he talks about his Olive – that's you, I guess – his eyes light up and that's how all my doubt disappears. You don't understand how much he loves you, mom. Yes, he loves you. And if he does, then I should love you, too.

But Olive—mom…I don't know much about you. You're always gone. I don't know where you go or why you leave us – why you leave me – all the time…I ask Dad about it – about this – but he just dismisses me and tells me that I'm too young. I'm not too young, mom. I know that every single day, when I ask a question about you, Dad cries in his room all night. I can hear him. He needs you, mom. I need you. We need you.

This is my first letter to you, and I want you to know that I'm joining Putnam's Spelling Bee, too. I will experience the joy, the glory and the euphoria you felt when you were a twelve-year-old speller. That is, if you still remember the Bee…. I hope you still remember all these feelings.

Well, I need to go now…I still have to finish reading the dictionary!

Love (I think),

Alessa Barfee.

Dear Mom,

I won first place in the Bee! You never replied to me, but I do hope I placed the correct address…Are you somewhere in Europe, mom? (God, I hope you are…)

I have a trophy just like Dad's now. It's displayed right beside his. Hehehe. Dad seems to smile more often after I won the Bee. Nationals will be next month, by the way. I hope you can visit me in Washington. :)

There were these cool kids I befriended in the Bee. I met a guy named Corn. A guy named CORN! He's got such a cool name! I mean, CORN, mom, C-O-R-N!!!! He spells cool, too. He goes in a trance and says all the correct letters. Amazing! Then, there was this girl with glasses. She seems so high-strung, but she's kind. She gave me a peanut bar but I had to give it to Corn. I inherited Dad's peanut allergy, if you care. Then there was this kid who says she's the daughter of a farmer in some country I don't recall. Her word was 'syzygy' but she misspelled it. Her mother had a high-pitched voice and she (the mother) was crying all day. The kid – her name was Lisa, I think – didn't really care. We ate recess together.

After the Bee, Corn introduced me to his grandparents. They were both male. But they were…er, interesting. They gave me a can of Coke. His dad's awesome like him and his mother is a really HUGE fan of politics. And Adam Lambert. You know—the guy who won second in American Idol many years ago? She gave me his CD and told me to check his music out. I did, and I think he's pretty good. Along with this letter, I'm sending you his CD as well.

Dad and I ate at this really expensive restaurant but the soup he ate had peanuts in it. He went ballistic at the waiter. We had to call Marigold's – the glasses girl – parents. She and I spent the rest of the time talking about how weird our parents can be.

I don't know how weird you are, though. But you must be weird since you married Dad. Oh, God, don't tell him I said that.

Love (I think),

Alessa B.

Dear Mom,

I find solace in Ice Cream and my trophy. I lost in the second round of Nationals. Weep, weep. :(( I had to spell 'elanguescence'—is that even a word!? Dad cried, too, but he wouldn't tell me why. Corn said he saw the Nationals on TV and he came by earlier to cheer me up. His name alone cheers me up. Haha. Marigold sent me an e-mail telling me that even she couldn't spell elanguescence. Marigold's so arrogant, sometimes…

Lisa called me earlier and told me her mother thinks I'm like you. Am I? Dad doesn't seem to think so, but he's been so emo lately he just can't think straight. He even began blabbering about some ant farm…

So, mom, what's your favorite Ice Cream flavor? I happen to like plain ol' Strawberry. But any kind of Ice Cream's fine as long as it doesn't have peanuts in it…Or if it's yoghurt. Bleh. Yoghurt tastes like cream mixed with vinegar.

I'm actually beginning to enjoy writing to you, even if you don't reply. I can't really talk to Dad 'cause he's so…urgh. He goes to work 24/7 now, after the whole 'elanguescence' thing. God, it's just a freakin' word!


Please reply.

At least once.

Dad needs you more than I, mom.

At least listen to his pleas?

--Alessa Barfee.