The Miss Cutie Beauty Pageant

Annie - weddingIt was the hint of mascara that initially gave the game away.

“Is that mascara? Do you have panda eyes?” I asked as she sat leaning over her breakfast, soccer uniform on, shin pads tucked into socks.

There was a grin, a blush. “We were dressing up, it was part of my outfit for the Miss Cutie Beauty pageant” she giggled. I was confused, this was the same child I had kissed goodnight, and tucked into bed.

“When was the Miss Cutie Beauty pageant?”

“Last night.”

“You mean after I put you to bed?”

“Maybe” she looked down guiltily into her cereal.

“And who else was in the Miss Cutie Beauty pageant?”

“Henry and Lizzie. Fred wouldn’t wear the tiara so he couldn’t be in it”

“What did you wear?”

“Your dresses, a little bit of your make-up. Henry wore those big fat pearls of yours. He didn’t wear your dress he just pulled his pants up high and did his model walk.”

“But I was downstairs with your Dad? How did I not know this?”

“We did it all in our room, Lizzie was the judge. Lizzie won.”

“Oh my goodness. What time did you guys go to bed?”

“Before you obviously” she said with a grin.

It all became clear. There were a few telltale signs, I’d found a pair of shoes on the landing. My jewelry was spread out on the cupboard. She’d been clever enough to hang the dress back up.

I wondered about all the times they have together without me. The endless games of cricket, the sandcastles made at the beach while I go for a walk, the waiting by the school gates. The parties where they disappear as a group and the long winter days at Grannies out in the backyard.

Some of the best conversations my sister and I have are the ones about our parents. We can talk for hours about my mother. Giggle over a conversation we’ve heard her and my father have. We spent hours and hours together during school holidays while both of our parents worked. We folded washing, ate condensed milk from the can, listened to music, and argued under the netball goals in the backyard. We had conversations our parents knew nothing about: secrets, promises, arguments.

As the little travellers grow I watch the bond they have with each other tighten and get more complicated.

“I wish we were twins” says the third to the second.

“I’d be the best looking one” she giggles back.

“Come on, please? Have you not realized we all look the same?” says the first

Randomly the third traveller changes the subject. “I’d like to jump from a really high diving board, like a really high diving board.”

“But you’re scared of heights?” the second is shaking her head.

“Not if I was falling into water I wouldn’t be”

“I’d go with you just, you know, to make sure you could jump” she’s not convinced.

“Lets all jump together, lets all do a big belly flop together” says the fourth as they break into giggles together.

I hope they do. I hope they all continue to jump together.

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