Saturday Morning Edutainment

Saturday Morning Edutainment

by Jiatian Yuan | Art by Joy Song

The Storyboard had already been drawn for you.

When you enter the Game, you will trip over the tray and examine it, running your finger along the inside of its four square indents, wondering what to fill them with, but for now, you are stretching, rubbing your eyes, and opening them to find yourself standing in front of the open gate of a white picket fence.

The wind, a fatherly hand on your rump, nudges you; you step inside. Three pats on the upper back let you know you’ve been a good little boy. 

A white picket fence gate squeaks shut behind you.


Welcome to SuperSpellers


I am your Host


To begin, raise your hand






  1. Find Letters

  2. Make Words

  3. If you feel faint, please fall face down to shield your vital organs

  4. Have Fun



The forest is crawling with them. The elusive Letters, fat like refrigerator magnets. You can hear their little feet drumming the dead-leaf-covered ground like anxious fingers on your desk. You can feel their bumblebee wings beat the air almost as fast as your heart. A flash of orange – you raise your bow and




and miss. You lower your bow. It’s useless – in this mist you are a floating torso and the Letters are only smellable hearable tasteable feelable. The one you

and miss. The one you missed is hovering – it’s sneering, it doesn’t have a face. The Letter P is a stuck-out tongue (in this mist the trees are smears)





The Letter P is a refrigerator magnet and your arrow pins it in the bark. The Letter P swings, helpless

You grab the Letter P and it glows.


What sound does “P” make?

Puh. Puh. Puh.

Good. Proceed.




your backpack and find the tray the tray (!) and the indents where the Letters should go. Run your finger along the insides, place the Letter P in its square and 




the SuperDuper Dictionary. Flipflipflip to the P’s and


What word starts with “P” ?

Play. Puh, lay.

When was the last time your father looked you in the eyes?

I— He— Seven years ago.

Good. Proceed.




your eyes but in this mist you might as well be sleeping. Stretch your two hands in front of you but in this mist they are swallowed. Reach for your bow, sling your arrow, point ; 

stare                         swivel,     point; 

stare            swivel  ;                                  point 

stare ;        swivel  ,         point


a flash of orange


you raise your bow and


The Letter L is a playground taunt

The Letter L is the book you held open while you watched them play and pretended you weren’t into their baby games


Fill in the blank: P, blank, L, L.

What do you want from me?

Think boy, think.

Why am I here?

What are you? What ARE you?

What are YOU?

Precisely. Not too shabby.


What a clever little boy.


The Letter U is an upturned smile (Smile for me, boy.) 

The Letter U is an unsuspecting contestant who thinks U are safe who thinks U won’t




as we bend you into U

because if we don’t who’s gonna




you out of    the     hungry      water  (out of your head, your head)

because there must be some sort of mistake

crashes   buries      you     closes

because you were just on the sand just now

over       your  head ; you  see    (open your eyes, your eyes)

just because the mist was there doesn’t mean they

black ;  the sun , distorted      bobs

shouldn’t have been watching you

in   &  out of view ; you  break

you were young and       (come back, come back, you are not there, you are here)                                          surface   &   gasp             &     go

there should have been someone

under again      a hand  reach

to catch you

PULL   reach  but       you bob

as you tumbled into the dark dark rocks

you reach PULL       slip     let  go no

but somehow they missed (come BACK)

catch    me   PULL       &   that’s        how

you  ended up    coughing   & draped over a stranger’s surfboard     

wondering      how a   surfer dude  could  grab  you by the scruff of Ur life

 but      your family        just stood  calling

Ur name  over    &   over  again.




, heave your chest 

as if it wasn’t all in your past. 

Wiggle your fingers and toes, numb, 

as if they had really been submerged in the cold 

biting water but in the end, it was all in your head, your head.




The Letter U into place. The Letter P is a stuck-out tongue, the Letter U is an upturned smile (a smirk? an elbow locked around your neck?)

The Letter L is a playground taunt

The Letter L is a playground taunt


You don’t wanna be U, boy? Don’t you wanna be U?

Are they too much for you? (Are you too much for them?)

They’ll never love you for you, boy. Something must be changed. Let me help


twist Ur limbs and fold Ur bones and bend you into U

bleed the orange through your cheeks and flush it over U

stretch your skin and PULL it taut your body is a U

scratch your back the wings break through, it’s happening, Ur U

Ur U, orange, gingerly, you flap your wings. U are nothing but

wings. U are nothing but a refrigerator magnet at the mercy of a child’s grubby fingers. U are

a safe and unassuming Sans Serif font. In the analphabet jumble, no one could ever pluck U out.


Fly for me, boy, flap your bumblebee wings.

Isn’t this what U wanted?




It’s clear in the forest again. It’s always an ordeal to remove all of them, their arrows, and the clothes that caught on unfriendly bushes. To clear the forest floor of its light dusting of dead skin. It’s always a mess at the end, but give the Network’s custodial team four-ish hours and it’s like no one was ever here in the first place. 


SuperSpellers S3E19 airs in less than an hour. Kids are rubbing their eyes. Stainless steel spoons scrape the bottoms of plastic cereal bowls. IKEA stools are dragged into position, healthy distances away from living room TVs.


It’s 9 AM. It’s like nothing ever happened, it’s 2008, it’s summer, it’s still cool in your living room. Summer hasn’t crept in, not yet. It’s comforting somehow— to push the power button rubbed smooth after Saturdays and Saturdays and watch the TV screen flower outwards, to cradle the remote and see scenes shuffle like flashcards— until it’s SuperSpellers, your show, your only home.


It’s 9 AM. A white picket fence gate swings open in front of you.