Nineteen-year-old Lori Clark’s heart raced as she re-read the newspaper advertisement, Beauty Contest July 4, 2010. Winner will receive a one-year modeling contract with Today’s Young Woman Magazine. Apply in person 9 a.m. June 6, 2010 at Lake Theater.
“I think I’m pretty enough.” Marianne mused aloud, as she examined her reflection in the mirror.
“What did you say, dear?” Mrs. Clark asked.
Lori handed her mother the paper with the circled ad. “I think I’ll enter this beauty contest. Mom, remember three years ago when I won the title of Miss County Fair?”
“Yes, but that was before...”
“I know.” Marianne interrupted. “Before the car accident, but my face and legs are unscarred.”
Mrs. Clark cupped her chin in her hand. “I know sweetie, you’re beautiful. I just don’t want you to be hurt or disappointed.”
Marianne shrugged, pulled away, and opened the closet door.
“Mom, help me decide what to wear to the interview next wee, something snazzy.”
“Of course, honey. But are you sure you will have one?”
Marianne ignored the comment and removed a blouse. Mrs. Clark picked a pair of black wide-leg trousers and said, “I think these will go well with the plum blouse.”
“No, I want to show off my best features which include my legs. I can wear the plum top with this black fitted skirt. The black stilettos will finish the outfit.”
“Marianne, I don’t think...”
“Okay, dear, whatever you want to wear is fine with me.” Mrs. Clark turned away to hide her tears.
“As far as hair style, I think I’ll wear it long.” She released the ponytail, shook her head, and let the thick, wavy hair fall around her shoulders.
Mrs. Clark caressed her, “You are gorgeous with your blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin. I love you.”
“I love you too, Mom.”
Marianne completed an application, interviewed with the host, and waited for his phone call.
A week later, Stan Main called with the good news.
“Yippee! Mom, Dad, I’m a contestant, can you believe it?”
Thank you Lord.
Mr. Clark gave her a bear hug, and said, “Sweetheart, the thought never crossed my mind for a moment you would not be accepted. You and your mother are the most beautiful women in the world.”
“Thank you Dad.”
The next few weeks were busy ones. Marianne and her mother shopped for a gown, shoes, and bathing suit. They found the perfect dress a week before the event.
At last, the big evening arrived. Marianne fidgeted with her hair in the dressing room and remarked to her mother, “Mom, maybe I shouldn’t do this. What made me think I could compete with the other girls?”
Mrs. Clark squeezed her shoulder. “I think Mr. Main will understand if you want to leave.”
“I need to pray.” A minute later she said, “No, the Lord has brought me this far, I’ll go through with it.”
Stan Main welcomed the public and introduced each young woman as she paraded across the stage in her swimsuit. A hush swept over the crowd for a few seconds when Marianne appeared then wild applause erupted. Trembling, she waved, smiled and followed behind the others.
A short intermission followed to allow the women time to change into their evening gowns. Marianne wore a sapphire-blue v-neckline dress with beading along the x-back straps.
Stan’s interview with each participant came next. Mrs. Clark whispered to her husband, “Isn’t she lovely, and brave?” Mr. Clark nodded. “I think our daughter is the first paraplegic to enter a beauty pageant.”
“It’s time to announce the winner folks.” Stan Main shouted into the microphone. Marianne’s hand quivered as she wiped perspiration from her forehead. Her parents clung to each other praying.
“May I have the drum roll please?” Stan requested as he opened the envelope.
“The winner is... Ms Marianne Clark.” Marianne steered her electric wheelchair to the front of the people. Applause and whistles reverberated throughout the auditorium. She crossed the stage, waved, smiled, and dabbed her wet eyes. Mr. and Mrs. Clark beamed. They threw kisses, shed tears of happiness, and thanked God.
Stan Main grinned from ear to ear as he placed a diamond tiara on the winner’s head and presented her with a bouquet of red roses.
He faced the audience and said, “Ladies and gentleman let me introduce you to Today’s Young Woman, Ms Marianne Clark. She is beauty in motion.”
Fireworks exploded outside.
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