Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Encouragement (02/23/12)
TITLE: Shooting for stardom
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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I can hear them shouting. Mommee’s voice is loud and angry, Daddee’s own more controlled but all the more scary.
I am not supposed to be here. Rather, I am supposed to be getting my beauty sleep, to be relaxing before the big day tomorrow.
But I don’t feel sleepy, and to me, there’s nothing special about tomorrow. It is just another big day in a string of so many others.
There is the sound of the remote clattering against the TV, then Mommee’s shrill cry. Daddee shouts some more, and then, there are footfalls. The door knob starts to turn.
I almost slip as I back pedal and hasten out of the corridor.
In my room, under the cover of my blankets, I cannot stop shaking.
I hate it when they fight, and the reason it hurts most is because they always fight because of me.
I am only nine years old, but the situation is very clear to me. I am as beautiful as Mommee is, perhaps even more. I am tall, with shiny ebony skin, wide-set eyes, rosebud lips. Daddee calls me an angel.
From the time I was three, Mommee has registered me for beauty pageants. And since that time, Daddee and Mommee have been quarrelling.
Mommee wants me to win all the titles that there are, wants to establish me as a force in the pageantry world. Daddee just wants me to relax, to be free of make-up, high heels, fried hair and ball gowns.
And I agree with Daddee. But I don’t want to crush Mommee’s dreams. You see, Mommee used to be a child star, but has been unable to market herself successfully as an adult.
I don’t want to compete for Miss Sunshine tomorrow. I’d rather be riding my bike and rolling in the dirt with Travis.
Blinking back the tears from my eyes, I snuggle lower into my bed, comforted somewhat by the warmth, by the softness.
As if on cue, my door opens slowly, just like I knew it would, and Mommee comes in.
“Hi there Sweet.” At the side of my bed, she kneels and starts to stroke my hair. “You’re all excited about tomorrow, aren’t you?”
Because I want to please her, I nod.
“You’re going to do well, Sweet. You’re good at this, and not one of the other girls can hold a candle to your light. Always remember that.”
For a few moments, she falls silent. I am no longer trembling.
“Remember the catwalk we practiced this evening? We have to finesse it in the morning. But asides that, you’ll do just fine.”
Under the influence of Mommee’s encouraging words, I feel the sleep angels descend. Eyes fluttering close, I am soon asleep.
*** It is estimated that millions of children are entered by their parents/guardians into beauty contests yearly. Most of these parents were either child stars or were beauty queens/kings when they were young, and in turn encourage their children to follow in their footsteps. A survey shows that while the majority of pageant kids love the lifestyle, a good proportion do not, and would like to do something else with their lives.
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