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It’s Sunday, so here is a story. A bad story, because there was a lot going on this week, and while I technically had all kinds of time to write, it was more fun to stare at the snow and hope the power didn’t go out.

Prompts this week were, a former beauty pageant winner has to collaborate with a former enemy and the prop is a wine glass with a lipstick stain.

The Collaboration

Becca Martin tapped her foot on the coffee table as she sat in the waiting room. There were People magazines interspersed with Yoga Journals. Two totally different audiences it seemed to her. She opened her purse and pulled out a small compact and her trusty tube of Ruby Woo. Her mother had told her early on, when she first started entering pageants, that she needed to have a signature lip color, one that could be seen by the people in the back of the auditorium. Ruby Woo, a rich blue-red, had the added benefit of making her teeth appear two shades whiter. Becca touched up her lips, then put the tube away and pulled out her iPhone. Her appointment was at 2:00 and it was only 1:52.

She was pissed at the attorney who told her she had to come to see the therapist. The marriage wasn’t going to be saved, why couldn’t they just come up with an agreement and move on? The attorney seemed to think that if Becca appeared to be doing everything she could to save the marriage, the judge might be more generous with alimony. Which wasn’t a bad thing. Becca’s Beauty Pageant consulting company hadn’t really taken off yet. But soon, Becca was sure that she was one winner away from becoming the number one consultant in Texas.

The door to the office opened, and two women came out. One walked straight out to the exit, head down, eyes on the floor. The other held out her hand to Becca.

“Hello, Becca, I’m Julie -“

Becca jumped up. “No, no this is not going to work at all.” She looked at Julie, her flat dull hair, cut in an ordinary bob. Julie’s suit needed to be tailored and it looked like she had gained at least fifty pounds. this would not work at all. How could Becca work with someone who so let her self go?

“It’s been a long time. When was the last time we met, the Miss USA pageant that you won?”

Becca felt herself backing up and hitting the sofa with the back of her legs. “Julie, when my attorney set this up, she gave me a different name,” Becca dug into her purse, looking for the business card.

“Right, I’m married, so it’s Julie Strong now. I didn’t recognize your name either. But come into the office and let’s see if maybe I can help.” She opened the door.

“Isn’t there some kind of rule, you can’t treat people you know from high school?”

“If we were friends, or were in the same groups, sure, but we really didn’t have much to do with each other.” Julie motioned for Becca to sit on the brown leather sofa.

Becca sat down obediently and pulled her purse to her stomach. “Look, this was my lawyer’s stupid idea. I don’t need therapy. I’m not crazy and the last thing I want to do is sit around and talk about feelings. Who has time for that?”

Julie tapped a pencil on a yellow legal pad. “I find it to be helpful sometimes. Look, you, or your insurance, is paying for this hour. Let’s just talk about what your goals would be should you decide to proceed and see if we can get comfortable talking.”

“I’m not doing this. I told you, I’m not crazy.”

Julie rolled the pencil in her fingers. Becca wondered if Julie even got manicures any more. She could not understand how any woman could pay so little attention to her appearance. Especially a former pageant girl.

“Sometimes, talking about things helps in ways that you don’t realize. Your divorce attorney set this up. Does she think that there is a chance for reconciliation?”

“There is no chance at all. He was unfaithful to me.” Becca felt her face grow hot. She took a deep breath. No need for Julie to see me get upset, or she will think I am some crazy person who needs therapy.

“Unfaithful. How did you find out?”

Becca sighed. Did she really need to talk about this? “I got back from a business trip and found a wine glass in the kitchen with lipstick on it.”

“And is wasn’t your lipstick?”

“Look at me, Ruby Woo. That is all I wear, Ruby Woo. The wineglass was stained with some coral-peach stuff. Who wears coral peach?” Becca caught her voice rising in pitch and volume. She rubbed her hands together and inspected her own fresh manicure. Perfect, as it should be.

“Ok, you found proof. How did you feel when you found the glass?”

“What does it matter what I felt?” Becca got up and paced in front of the sofa.

Julie was writing something down. Becca took a step over to see if she could see what she was writing. Julie put the pad back on her lap, upside down.

“I should get to know what you are writing.” Becca said, backing away.

“Just a few notes, to help me remember should you chose to continue.with therapy.”

“No, I am not going to sit here and talk about feelings with you. There is no point.”

“Okay, well, tell me about your work?”

Becca sat back down. This, she could talk about. “I have my own beauty pageant consulting business. I work with young girls in the Junior Miss pageants right now, but I fully expect to get one of the them to start moving up the ranks soon. Miss Texas, Miss America, the big ones.”

“Wow, that sounds like it’s something that you really enjoy. With the divorce coming, will you be able to support yourself with the business?” Julie asked.

Becca could see real concern. “I think so, one day. Not quite yet though, because I have to have the right clothes, hair and makeup for the job. I have to keep myself up. My attorney told me to come see you to make it look like I was trying to work through and save the marriage. Then the judge may give a higher alimony.”

Julie nodded. “So it sounds like you really do need to do some sessions, if for no other reason than to report to the judge.”

Becca sat up straighter. “But I don’t want to just sit here and talk about how I am feeling. Maybe I’m not feeling anything. Why does anyone have to talk about feelings? It’s stupid.”

“Did your family ever talk about feelings when you were growing up?”

Becca laughed. “No, we didn’t have time for that. Well, besides the parental standard, ‘stop crying or I will give you something to cry about.”

Julie nodded again. It kind of irked Becca. “Well, what if we do this. We can have the six sessions and we can work on things that could help your business. You work with young women, who are highly emotional. Maybe we can work together to help you manage them better, and may learn about yours emotions as well?”

Becca was not sure about this. But Julie did compete at one time and did understand the pageant business. Maybe she could do these six sessions, make her husband pay, of course, and then if Julie’s advice worked, she could hire her on as a consultant. Pageant psychology was the latest thing, after all.