The smell of Herbal Essences shampoo and hairspray filled the room. Fake eyelashes, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow. Foundation, concealer, powder, blush, lipliner, lipstick. The bright lights of the make-up mirror illuminated her porcelain doll face. Every hair in its right place. Her cowgirl outfit clung to all the right parts of her body and her brown faux-leather mini skirt fit like a glove. She was showing just enough leg for the judges to score her a perfect ten. All she had to do was nail that cartwheel and sing ‘9 to 5’ in a perfect pitch.
Her mother and father watched from the back of the room, quietly cheering her on. And there she was, up on the stage. The crowd cheered, the contestants scowled. This was her time now. She looked too big for the stage; the stage was too small for her. Michigan was too small for her. The bass line played, and there was that cartwheel. Ten. Ten. Ten. “Tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen”. She had nailed it. Perfect pitch and perfect timing. Dolly Parton would be proud. Ten. Ten.
The girls all lined up on the stage. A line of pastel-coloured dresses. She waited anxiously for the crowning to begin. The first wave left the stage. Her name had not been called. This was good news. One girl left, then another, and before she knew it she was the only girl standing on the stage. The spotlight was pointed directly at her. An obese woman placed a crown on her head and she held roses as she smiled at the cameras. The thorns dug deep into her hands as she faked a smile. A sea of flashes rained against her pale white skin.
But now she felt tired. It was time for her afternoon nap. She had missed her daily nap time. For now, she was a toddler who finally got her tiara.
Profile: Walter Mackey