Secretly our minders had each promised the judges the heart of the fairest mortal. The poor soap maker, the rattlesnake chaser, the inimitable Mr. B. Willard Sykes of the bushy eyebrows and double joints, they stare at us.
I try to will my nipples hard. My boobs have shrunk so much, they might resemble two eggs thrown against a wall, with wide comical nipples, like peach colored eyes staring back at you. Under the glaring lights I can barely see the judges, but believe me when I tell you that if it was up to them, we would never eat and they’d fuck us until our skeletons rattled. I pinch each wrinkled flap, stretching the labia, seeing how low I can pull them, winking at the judges. I make the edges swoop in and out like a like a giant bird of prey with each pinch.
We must talk about ourselves. And even if they tried to imagine who you are and where you have come from, they never really could. They see only the you now; the you you have constructed. You studied it, you aspired to ace it. But then just when you think you may have a shot at winning, you start to hate yourself for it. You. You fucking fraud. The thought is like a grain of hot lava in my vagina, and gets coated layer by layer, like a clam trying to sequester a grain of sand in mother of pearl. Gird still your beating mucous membranes and pseudopodia.
Miss Accidental Blonde is waving in the vitreous as the serving platters converge on an empty seat at the table. Spoons chatter the porcelain; spindly chair legs gnaw the floor. A cat is crying in the corner. There is already the scent of something cunty in the air, dinoflaggelate, like a pair of nylons worn too long. All the girls turn in a tight circle once and walk to the next mark on the floor. Miss Sorbet Sweetly kicks at my ankle as she struts by, working it into the turn at the end of the runway so the judges don’t see.
Then talents are judged and the disease watching is so hot these days. And of course no one is ever really DYING. The platitudes, well those are as banal as ever. The treasure comes in a veritable trove. The admissions, tacitly. The berry, lingon and tea party, ersatz. The cabals and calculi are as strange as the jittles and tots. Did you forget the flotsam and jetsam? It’s my cue.
Disregarding it, I snatch off my vagina, that great bird of prey, and fling it triumphantly over my head, whipping it in circles. The centripetal force flings droplets all over the room like spent, dirty suds from a dish rag. The centrifugal force, opposite and equal, sends the beads and sequins flocking around the stage. They change direction in mid air. Paillettes follow crystals, follow seed pearls.
Dr. Carol Lynn Curchoe is a reproductive biologist specializing in molecular and cellular biology and biotechnology. Her key contributions to the field include advances in stem cell culture, epigenetics, and reprogramming. She is the former Utah State Science Advisor, and the current President and CEO of 32ATPs, llc. She is the author of personal essay and short fiction and the winner of the coveted Wasatch Iron Pen (2013).