by Todd McKie
Oh, shit, it’s Mom and Dad. Stop crying. Don’t let them in. I wish I was dead.
Janice, still in the hideous blue gown, lay on her bed. Her make-up, which Mom had spent hours on, was smeared all over her hot, wet face. Misty, her cat, was curled up beside her.
“Do you want to talk about it, sweetheart?” said Mom through the door.
“C’mon, Pumpkin,” said Dad, “it’s not the end of the world. Open the goddamn door.”
Who cares about some dumb beauty pageant that was probably fixed anyway, because who in their right mind would choose Tiffany Dettweiler as Miss Wayne County Wetlands Preservation?
Janice bet Tiffany Dettweiler’s mother didn’t do her make-up! Tiffany probably had her stupid, teased-up hair, and her dumb make-up, and her totally gross nails done at some fancy spa, but she looked like a hooker anyway. And what’s so talented about lip-synching to Christina Aguilera in a bikini? In a bikini so tight you could practically count her pubic hairs?
Rex Williams, from KCTV in Cleveland, was the emcee. The weather guy! In a tuxedo. What did he know about real beauty? Or that big, fat judge in a neck brace, or the judge that acted like she was drunk?
Rex Williams had ruined everything by asking Janice if she had any hobbies. Her mouth was dry and her heart was smashing around and her words got all mixed up and jeez she must have sounded like a real dope. She said her favorite hobby was visiting burn patients at Children’s Hospital with Misty. She told about how she took along a basket full of miniature hats and shoes, sweaters, and skirts, and let the awful-looking children play with Misty and dress her up. About how comical Misty looked in the outfits and how Janice was super glad she could help out those poor kids who, after all, didn’t ask to be burned up. They deserved a few minutes of happiness just like normal people, didn’t they? Janice said entertaining disfigured children was her way of honoring our brave heroes who were fighting over in Iran and the Middle East, too, and wherever else those Talibans were trying to blow us up with homemade bombs.
Rex said, “Isn’t that great, folks? Let’s give a big hand to Wayne County’s own Clara Barton!”
What a jerk. He couldn’t even get her name right.
Janice stood up, unzipped her gown, dropped it on the floor. She climbed into bed and tucked Misty under the covers with her. She turned out the light. Janice heard bursts of laughter and applause from downstairs. Mom and Dad were watching Jay Leno.
“Misty,” Janice whispered, “you still think I’m pretty, don’t you?”
Misty didn’t answer.
published 4 October 2013