Cole looked out at the gym full of students and teachers. Only two contestants left now, Parker and Cole. Parker was just finishing his turn.
“R-U-C-K-U-S. Ruckus.” Parker smiled at the English teacher running the spelling contest, and then out at the audience.
Cole’s nervousness increased. He knew that the English teacher, Vice Principal Hanratty, had it in for him. He was peering at Cole now over his half-moon glasses, while perusing his list of words. Wasn’t he just supposed to pick the next one on the list, wondered Cole.
Hanratty smiled. Cole thought the smile, more like a smirk really, was full of malice, as the Vice Principal’s eyes locked on to him. His eyes were full of barely concealed glee. As Hanratty opened his mouth, Cole finally understood the meaning of the term ‘stage fright.’ He was standing on a stage, and he was frightened to death. It all made sense now.
Hanratty said, “Mamihlapinatapai.” And then he just looked at Cole smugly. The audience mostly remained silent, except for a few mutters and barely heard snippets of confusion.
Cole looked out at the audience, his eyes darting everywhere until they lit upon his very best friend, and as of last night his brand new boyfriend, Rodney. He smiled at Cole, and Cole couldn’t help smiling back as they both realized, at the same moment, the incredible stroke of serendipity.
It was just last night that Rodney and Cole were able to really talk, to tell each other how they were feeling. Afterwards, Rodney had remarked that there just had to be a word for that, for what they’d both been going through the last couple of weeks.
So they Googled. And, eventually, found it. And laughed. And worked at remembering the word, because it just might come in useful again.
Cole didn’t realize quite how soon that would turn out to be true.
“M-A-M-I-H-L-A-P-I-N-A-T-A-P-A-I,” Cole spelled out, followed by, “Mamihlapinatapai.” He looked out at the audience again, not at all nervous now. “It means a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.” He grinned once again at Rodney, and watched Rodney laugh in return. Interestingly, several of the kids in the audience were sneaking curious looks at certain other kids at this pronouncement. And so was Miss Hollansby towards Mr. Tuskan. Hmmm.
Parker flubbed his last word badly. Apparently he was distracted, thinking hard while he kept sneaking looks out into the audience towards Eric. And Cole wondered idly if he may have started something as he accepted his prize from Mr. Hanratty a few minutes later.
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