With straining cheeks, Bridgette struggled to keep the false, 100 watt smile plastered on her face. Her grin was wavering, but the feeling of the slimy petroleum jelly her mother had smeared on her teeth kept her lips from creeping shut.
She was standing in a row of young women, watching as a bombshell brunette sauntered to centre stage to accept her crown for Miss Teen USA. Bridgette, along with all the other runner-up’s watched closely as the brunette proudly claimed her title, and offered a quick acceptance speech. Bridgette clapped enthusiastically with the other candidates, knowing full well that their warm smiles and “good jobs!” were nothing more than formalities, nothing more than a weak attempt to conceal the raging jealousy they all felt.
When the pageant was over, instead of rushing to congratulate the winner, Bridgette slipped quietly to her dressing room, palms sweating nervously. Once she was inside the safe confines of the brightly lit room, she sank to the floor and dissolved into a flood of tears. She was so sure she would win this time! She had done absolutely everything right.
Three sharp raps on the door were enough to spike Bridgette’s heart rate, and immediately stop the stream of tears. Her mother had arrived. Bridgette stood up quickly and adjusted her dress. Taking a quick look in one of the many mirrors, she hastily wiped away her tears before they could dry on her cheeks.
She opened the door to find her mother, Judy Wilson.
Judy’s face was stiff with anger. Speaking to clenched teeth, she growled a sharp “Let’s go.” Grabbing Bridgette roughly by the arm, she dragged her out of the bustling banquet hall and into the parking lot.
It was the middle of winter, and the wind nipped bitterly at Bridgette’s skin through the thin material of her dress, but she daren’t ask to go back for her forgotten pashmina.
Bridgette began to curse herself internally. She knew she should have left home when she had the chance. It was too late now, and she would have to resort to plan B. She heard the words her Papa had used his last breath to tell her, “Take care of your mother Bridgette. You’re all she has.”
She smiled thinly. Well Papa, now you can deal with her.
At first she had vowed on her life to honour that promise, but ever since Papa died, her mother’s abusive behaviour began to get even worse. She had insisted on Bridgette continuing the family tradition of beauty pageants, and subjected her to horrible punishments if she lost. She shivered, and let few errant tears escape, thinking about the last time she won second place. Her scars had just started to heal. Bridgette climbed into the backseat of her mother’s roomy Mercedes and aggressively shut the door.
The loud bang that came with the closing vehicle snapped Bridgette back to reality. There was no time for tears. In fact, there was no time at all. She knew what she had to do.
She thought of the tiny gun nestled snugly against her hip bone. Her father had left it for her in the unlikely case that she and Judy would need added protection. She fought a smile, thinking about the irony of the situation.
They were nearing their home now, and Bridgette felt an eerie sense of calm. Her palms had stopped sweating, and she could no longer deny the sense of satisfaction she knew she would feel once she blew the bitch’s head off.
Rolling up slowly in front of their stone brick mansion, Judy cut the engine off and spoke, her voice sharply cutting the still silence.
“Go downstairs, strip, and wait for me in the basement.” She commanded quietly.
Taking a deep breath, Bridgette removed the gun from the elastic waistband of her underwear and placed the cold metal underneath Judy’s augmented chin.
“Not this time, Mother.”