A young child practiced spelling for weeks.
Thinking of words in his head, writing down how he thought they would be spelled, then looking them up to see if he was correct.
The image of the kid who had won last year burned in his mind. Standing on the podium where everyone could see him, people were paying attention to him, and sharing in the celebration of his victory.
He wanted to be that kid. To be in a position where people might be interested.
And the chance to have that experience was in front of him now.
Taking his time with each and every word, he saw them in his head and avoided the simple mistakes.
What started with twenty kids was down to ten, then five, then just two - the kid who had won last year and him.
Four rounds went by, back and forth, increasing the anticipation in the audience with every round.
Then, with one wrong letter, it was over.
He had won.
Standing on the podium he felt like people could see him, that they were paying attention to him, and they were sharing in his victory.
But, while he was finally surrounded by others, relieved of the deep feeling of isolation he'd felt since his parents left years ago, he couldn't help but wonder why it took this much to simply be noticed.
He was the same kid as before. As interesting, important, and valuable as the thousands of others who didn't have anyone interested in them.
And, as a young child, he began to practice showing interest.
Because having people see you as valuable shouldn't be limited to the people on the podium.