Sunday, February 27

Howie the Little Girl and her Pet Old Man Head have been dragged to the local college's Annual Beauty Pageant. They sit in the middle of the middle row next to Howie's mom, a large round woman wearing a pastel blue and yellow-striped shirt.

"Look how sparkly they are..." whispers Howie to Head. "Yeah, I like how stiff they walk, too. Like they're going to fall down." The girls walk around in endless circles, colorful dresses bejeweled with a universe of sequins.

"The talent part's next, Howie," nudges her mom. "We need to get you a talent, 'cause being pretty won't be enough, you know."

The first girl demonstrates a new kind of cleaning product. Howie's mom gasps in surprise at how easy it scrubs everything up. Howie sees a man on the edge of the stage holding a microphone stand. She holds up her best friend ever and waves him at the man, who smiles and waves back.

"Pay attention, Howie," her mom says as she points at the girl who is magicking her clothes off. The girl's small breasts jiggle as she walks around in circles, hands on hips, stomach sucked in tight.

Howie tugs at her mom's s sleeve. "I know what my talent is."

"Shh!" A skinny girl on stage juggles puppies.

"I know, Head," Howie whispers. "One day we'll win all the contests."

That night, after her mom goes to sleep, Howie and Head sneak out of bed to practice. They carefully put a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the middle of the road, and sit on the curb to wait.

It isn't until dawn that a car finally drives by, and it isn't until the fifth one that the sandwich gets squished.

"No," Howie says, "You're the most talented ever."

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