The belle of the pageant

Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

By Noel Lewis

She was used to being looked at, a southern belle from a long line of southern belles. A natural beauty if ever there was one, her hair was the envy of the town, and her figure was often enough the discourse at local watering holes.

There had been parades and pageants for as long as she could remember, all of them all over the county ending with her taking center stage. She had worked her way up in the pageant circuit since she was barely a year old, winning locals, districts and regionals, and there were whispers of her trying for state next.

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Everyone assumed she would win in a landslide, advance to the national level, and then, who knows? The sky was the limit. She was still fairly young and had risen so high and accomplished so much that everyone was certain she would go all the way to the top and beyond, wherever that may be.

Her beauty, like a fine barrel-aged wine, only got better with age.

Those in the pageant circles are used to being judged. She was no different. She had been poked, prodded and inspected from one end of the state to the other, it seemed. Were her teeth white enough? Were they set the correct distance apart? Were her nails filed just so? Was her hair the right shine and color and brushed the right way? Was her nose too long? Too short? Were her lips the right complexion? The list went on and on, a veritable gauntlet of judgment.

Yet everywhere she went, again and again, the more scrutiny she got, the more praise and admiration was showered upon her. She was met with adoration everywhere, and not just in pageant circles. In her own hometown, there wasn’t a whisper of negative gossip about her. She was always met with smiles and hugs from children and grownups alike.

Through all the parades and pageantry, the pokes and the prods, there had come to be one person whom she tried hardest to please. A man, a boy, really, whom she had great hopes for. She dreamed of a long relationship with him, sharing everything, growing old together. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for him. All the parades and pageants had been for him. Out of all the accolades and adorations, his was the praise and affections she desired most.

She was used to being looked at. But not like this. What was this look he was giving her? Was there a hint of sadness there? Disappointment even? What had she done to deserve this sudden condemnation? She moved closer to his side, tried to get closer to maybe snuggle with him. Maybe this look was a momentary lapse. Maybe he was in a bad mood.

He moved away from her, his face twisting so that she couldn’t bear to look at it.

“Bad dog!” He murmured, then turned and walked away.

Noel Lewis grew up in Carrsville and now lives in Zuni with his wife Leah and two boys, Milo and Stuart. Lewis works at Newport News Shipyard and builds furniture out of reclaimed wood in his spare time.