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felt her daughter beginning inside her, just a little more beautiful, thanks to this stranger’s DNA. LuAnn knows she’s not much to look at, not since she turned eleven. But today’s not about her. “Glitz!” Amber says, panicky. She grabs her mother’s wrist, shoves the watch into her mother’s face. LuAnn doesn’t take things too personal on pageant days. As they head to the stage for the Glitz portion, LuAnn hands Amber a Pixy Stix. “Big smile,” she coaches. Amber gulps the sugar, rolls her eyes. Amber takes a breath before going on, extends her arms to frame that skirt. Her music starts and she walks out, faces the nearly-empty hotel banquet room. The judges sit at a table in front of the stage. A man with a deep-woods Georgia accent reads into a microphone: “Amber enjoys cheer camp and playing with her new puppy,” although Amber didn’t make tryouts this year and the puppy’s now a dog they keep chained up out back. Amber says he stinks real bad. LuAnn moves around to the audience, to an empty row of chairs near the back. Amber poses and pulls her lips into a smile. LuAnn considers now that Amber may be a little long in the leg to wear this sparkly dress with its high crinoline pouf. Suddenly, Amber hesitates. She looks to LuAnn. The music’s playing but Amber’s frozen. LuAnn moves to the aisle and demonstrates the routine she choreographed and Amber knows. She knows it by heart! LuAnn thinks, I have to do everything? LuAnn did her best that summer of 1976, when she hit the wall. She tap-danced with little American flags, smeared Vaseline on her teeth to smile big as Farrah Fawcett Majors. But it was hopeless: Her forehead rose up in bumps, her belly developed a pot. Her nose grew 128

Eclectic Flash, Volume 2, April 2011  

Eclectic Flash is a nonprofit online and print literary journal dedicated to bringing our readers the best flash literature available, regar...

Eclectic Flash, Volume 2, April 2011  

Eclectic Flash is a nonprofit online and print literary journal dedicated to bringing our readers the best flash literature available, regar...

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