Beauty Queens


“Okay, okay, calm down,” Petra said. “Is it a family heirloom or something?”

“No, it’s just — it’s very important,” Mary Lou said, near tears. She crawled in the sand.

“It keeps her purity vacuum-sealed to preserve its freshness for her future husband,” Adina sniped.

Petra glared. “Just because you’re funny doesn’t mean you get to be cruel,” she said in a low voice.

Adina swallowed hard. She got down on her knees and patted the ground, searching for a glint of silver. The girls lit torches and combed the immediate area, but the ring was nowhere to be found, and it wasn’t safe to go any farther.

“Sorry, Mary Lou,” Tiara said. “I know we’re not saying sorry anymore, but I’m still sorry we didn’t find your ring.”

“Thanks,” Mary Lou said. She sat on a rock staring out at the ocean, her face full of misery.

“Hey. Don’t worry. We’ll find it tomorrow.” Adina put an arm around her friend. She hated everything the ring stood for, but it mattered to Mary Lou and so it mattered to Adina. “It’ll be okay.”

Mary Lou shook her head and placed a shaking hand against her St. Agnes medal. “You don’t understand. You don’t understand at all.”


Please fill in the following information and return to Jessie Jane, Miss Teen Dream Pageant administrative assistant, before Monday. Remember, this is a chance for the judges and the audience to get to know YOU. So make it interesting and fun, but please be appropriate. And don’t forget to mention something you love about our sponsor, The Corporation!

Name: Mary Lou Novak

State: Nebraska


Height: 5’ 4”

Weight: 135 lbs. A lot of it is muscle.

Hair: Curly black

Eyes: Dark blue?

Best Feature: My smile. I guess.

Fun Facts About Me:

I grew up on a farm in a town of only a thousand people.

My platform is called Animals Are Awwww-some. We find foster homes for older pets.

For obvious reasons, I am a vegetarian.

I’ve never been to a water park! I can’t wait to go on the slides.

The most important quality in a friend is to be yourself. Unless you’re not a very nice person. Then you should try to be somebody else.

My favorite Corporation show is Captains Bodacious. I’ve always thought it would be cool to be a pirate. My sister, Annie, and I used to pretend we were pirate queens. We always thought one day we’d get a boat and sail the seas, find buried treasure, fight villains and monsters, and live outside the rules. We’d have total command of our ship*

The thing that scares me most is letting go.

25Verity Bootay, curvaceous former lead singer of the stripper-nurse pop group Nymphet.

26UConnect, a social networking site perfect for wasting time posting quizzes and party pics, until you discover that your mom and dad are on there reconnecting with old high school friends and leaving you hideously cutesy messages on your wall.

*The Corporation suggests changing this to something more feminine, like this: “My favorite Corporation show is Captains Bodacious. I think the pirates are supercute, and I’d love to find my true pirate love, get married, and sail away with him into the sunset and live happily ever after. With treasure!”


The dream had been about a sexy pirate captain, and when Mary Lou woke, panting and undone, the sensual moon lay back like a lover against the soft bed of night, and her palms itched. Shaking off sleep, she touched her bare finger, remembering with panic that her ring was missing. The itching intensified. It always started with the itch, and the beauty queen stifled a small cry. This was what she had feared, and now she was defenseless against the change.

She remembered the first time it happened. She was twelve and watching the original Captains Bodacious on TV. All those handsome men parading around shirtless. She’d watched the show before and had felt nothing but an embarrassed gigglyness. But that night, something new and dangerous stirred within her. “Let’s watch something else,” her mother had said suddenly, and she’d changed the channel to a show about quilting. The exciting feeling inside Mary Lou had passed.

Later, as she lay in bed thinking of pirates, fantasizing about them in their formfitting breeches, her hand wandered beneath the sheets. Her breathing grew rapid. Her blood quickened. Warmth suffused her cheeks. An intense pleasure rippled through her. How alive she felt! How good and right it was that her body could do this!

The backs of her hands began to prickle, faintly at first, then insistently. No scratch would ease it. Terrified, she stole into the bathroom, locking herself in. In the mirror, she saw that her pupils were enormous. Her teeth seemed longer and sharper, her lips full as cabbage roses and just as red. Her hair was a corona of curls. A light growl-purr clawed its way out of her mouth from somewhere deep within, startling Mary Lou with its insistence. She stepped into a cold shower, letting the unpleasantness of the icy water pelt her until her skin was red but normal again.