Beauty Queens

13,028
05.03.2019

Age:16

Height: 5’ 5”

Weight: 130 lbs

Hair: Black

Eyes: Brown

Best Feature: My smile

Fun Facts About Me:

My dad and my Auntie Abeo are both doctors. My mom is a former Laker Girl.

My personal motto is You Gotta Go Along to Get Along.

I am pre-premed. I like to read Gray’s Anatomy just for fun.

My hobbies include meteorology, bowling, skiing, and drumming.

My favorite Corporation product was Miles of Smiles toothpaste. I really loved that it came in mint-choco-chip flavor. It’s too bad about the recall. Salmonella is no joke*

The thing that scares me most? My mother.

27This is perfectly acceptable language. After all, that bad, bad girl IS stealing her boyfriend.

28Tan-So-Right, The Corporation’s revolutionary self-tanner that gives you a perfectly even tan, even “down there.” You are beautifying “down there,” aren’t you?

29Stud Muffin Body Spray for Guys: Get your stud on with Stud Muffin Body Spray for Guys, the only body spray made with beer and man sweat and guaranteed to make girls frolic with you in a hot tub.*

*Results may vary. It could also make your dog hump your leg and have your grandma asking if you’ve sneaked a cold one into the retirement village for her.

*Note: Don’t refer to Corporation recall. Class action suit still pending.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

For her whole life, Nicole had been playing a part in a story shaped by everyone from her mother to her friends, even to her beloved auntie. But now, she was ready to make up her own story, even if she was less than sure how that worked. And so, armed with a sharp stick in one hand, a knife in the other, and a bag of shiny hair accessories and jewelry tied to her rope belt, Nicole set off to explore the island. She decided to go left, toward a part of the jungle she had yet to see, promising herself that if it got too frightening, she would turn back. On her way, she passed Miss Montana and Miss Ohio, who were lying on their backs in the warm sand. They’d positioned scraps of silvery metal from the plane’s wing at chest level and were using them to reflect the sun.

“What are you doing?” Nicole asked.

“Working on our tans,” Miss Montana said. She had placed coconut shell quarters over her eyes. They looked like hairy brown sunglasses.

“I usually go for a fake-n-bake every week during pageant season,” Miss Ohio said. “Otherwise you look like Gothzilla. The judges like a tan.”

Nicole bit her tongue. The judges only like artificially darkened skin, she wanted to say. “Don’t you know anything about SPF? Skin cancer?”

Miss Montana eased herself up on her elbows and removed the small coconut shells from her eyes. “Are you always this much of a bummer?”

Fine, Nicole thought. She needed to be about her adventure, anyway. The knife hacked at the thicket surrounding her. Below her feet was a tangle of vines and roots, and she had to be careful where she stepped if she wanted to avoid a turned ankle or wrenched knee. High above her, a flock of colorful birds perched on a limb, their aqua-and-orange tails trailing down like the fishtail hem on an evening gown. Nicole wiped away the mist that collected on her skin. As she walked, she affixed shiny doodads from her bag to the trees to mark her passage. Once, she thought she heard someone behind her, but when she turned, there was nothing but thicket. The vegetation grew less dense, and finally she came to a clearing where the land looked ruined, burned.

“What happened here?” she said. Totems still guarded the top of a hill, ghosts of an older civilization. It gave Nicole a funny feeling, as if she were trespassing, and she found herself thinking of the restless spirits who inhabited the forest in stories she’d heard from Auntie Abeo. “I hope I’m not intruding,” she said. “I don’t mean any harm.”

The wind was still, and so Nicole sensed that she was welcome. She set about looking for a piece of wood she could turn into an ekwe30. At last, she found a suitable piece and sat down with her knife to carve the slits that would make it a good drum. Her head itched. In the island humidity, Nicole’s hair had gone rogue; the new growth was tight. Her mother would have an absolute fit if she saw it. For years, Nicole had submitted to the relaxers and her mother’s big tub of Icon Pass Hair Grease. “This’ll set you right,” her mother had said, dipping fast, sure fingers into the grease and working it through Nicole’s stubborn curl, pulling so tight, her eyes watered. Nicole focused on the tub’s label, where a smiling black woman in pearls touched a hand to her shiny-straight coiffure. “Smooth and controlled,” the label promised. But to Nicole, the woman’s hair seemed girdled and anxious, like it was just waiting for the right moment to stage a coup.