This was my first published short story.
Miss Richmond says, Jesus, please. I’m working here. This is my job, okay?
When I walked into the chorus room at Kennedy High School, Miss Richmond was spraying her bangs into place. Miss Richmond doesn’t like anybody except for her hair. The other Miss Virginia contestants were stepping into their swimsuits, swabbing Vaseline on their teeth. They hung their pageant sashes on the music stands, over the sheet music to Whitney Houston’s, “The Greatest Love of All.”
Miss Richmond says I’ve humiliated her, I’ve hurt her feelings, I’ve stabbed her in the back. Isn’t that enough? she asks.
I sit down on the risers while Miss Richmond adjusts the straps to her periwinkle two-piece. It’s a strip of spandex that twists in the middle, like a crescent bun.
Miss Richmond says, But aren’t you something? Look at you. What’d you do to your hair? Comb it with a pork chop?
We laugh at this, nervous. Miss Richmond bares her pearly white teeth, her radiant smile. Her pageboy, as usual, looks perfect. Each blond, blow-dried hair a perfect, 90-degree angle. Miss Richmond and her hair, story of my life.
My mom thinks you want this, Miss Richmond says, and hooks her crown with her finger. It is a massive thing, four-cornered and pointy. It catches the light, all those rhinestones. She gets to keep it, even after a new Miss Richmond is chosen. But first, she’s looking to upgrade. The Miss Virginia crown is a monster.
Have you ever wanted anything like I want this? Miss Richmond asks me.
Miss Richmond says, Here’s a secret: Miss Roanoke has a third nipple. She doesn’t want the judges to know. She thinks she might get disqualified. No kidding.
She says, Hey, tell me. Even if you hate me, do my thighs look fat?
Want to hear something funny? Miss Richmond was my best friend once.
We grew up together in the suburbs. HTC: Homegirls Together Chillin’. We were going to be something fierce. Something huge.
My new husband paints Dungeons & Dragons figurines for fun. He lines them up on the banister above our waterbed, little dwarves carrying clubs, mini-magicians, that kind of thing. And Miss Richmond became Miss Richmond. I mean, what happened to us? *
*Author’s note: There’s more to this story, but no more Jane magazine (sad!)