Little Big Girls
by Janice Daugharty
Copyright 2010 Janice Daugharty
First published in the Chattahoochee Review
It's a real come-down, if you ask Cammie Lawson, to have to move back to this hick town and enroll her daughter Temple in this hick school, just so she can compete in another Little Miss contest. No talent, no swimsuit or personality competition, only pageant dresses in the one coming up tonight. But that's the way of it: 1994's Little Miss Valdosta, and 1993's Little Miss Sweet Potato Princess, is now too old--old! at seven!--to compete on the Little Miss circuit.
By moving to Cornerville, where the school board has permitted Temple to be held back in first grade--emotional immaturity, Cammie claims--Cammie is delaying Temple having to compete in the Junior Miss category in which the older you are the better you do.
Of course, the same is true for the Little Miss category; Cammie figured that out from watching Temple progress year after year from precious to sophisticated. Not that the Swanoochee County Little Miss contests call for sophistication. Quite the opposite.
Cammie's eyes light on Temple's fair doll face in the beauty shop mirror, those gold-lashed brown eyes, without mascara. Though she is seven years old, she looks four, and has lived the two numbers combined. Now she is tonguing a loose front tooth childishly, and Cammie wags her head for her to stop.
Chanell, the beautician in Cornerville, is winding Temple's sheer blond hair on pink rollers. Chanell is dark, busty and loud in faded blue jeans and a white sweat shirt, in perfect contrast to bony, blond Cammie in the north section of the wall mirror, which is