Not Better Than You

After Jalene’s junior year of high school, she was diligent to remain passive when she encountered Glenn and Jayne. The severe beatings had not only exhausted her physically and emotionally, but her self-esteem had plummeted to it’ lowest. Jalene never possessed confidence with Glenn’s continual degradation of her personality and traits, especially as he and Jayne continued to habitually demean her.

When Jalene returned from her dates, as she stood at her front door, frequently she would see a shadowy figure standing in the darkened living room window as the curtains were moving.  Immediately she would bid her date farewell and open the door to see Jayne standing and peering out the window.

Jalene’s laments were now the norm, “Mom, what were you doing, staring at us?” Jayne’s words were abrupt and harsh, “I wanted to make certain you behaved yourself.”

Jalene always thought silently that was peculiar, knowing Jayne had been her uncle’s mistress. Jalene’s morals were for herself; not her parents or other family. Because Jalene had been disgusted with Jayne’s actions with her Uncle Don, she knew her conscience of self-respect was far more important, than what her adulterous mother might think of her.  As often as Jayne “staked her spot” at the front window, she never observed any more than a good night kiss from Jalene’s suitors.

As Jalene approached the end of her senior year of high school, Glenn queried her on her plans for the future. She was going to attend college. This was another opportunity for Glenn to belittle and mock Jalene. “Oh so you think you will be better than any of us, by going to college?” Jalene was quick to reply, “No, I won’t be any better than any of you, but I will better myself. I have lived in poverty for my entire life and I’m hopeful a college education will provide me a better life.” Jalene’s determination to leave the life she had endured only angered Glenn and Jayne, but Jalene didn’t permit their negativity to negate her plans.

In the spring of her high school senior year, one of her teachers suggested that she audition for the upcoming city beauty pageant; the stepping stone for Miss America.  Mrs. Keys whom had been the counselor that received the telephone call from Mrs. Cosper the previous year, was now one of Jalene’s teachers.

She was keenly aware of Jalene’s financial situation and knew winning the pageant provided college scholarship money for the winner. Jalene cited she believed she wasn’t “good enough” to enter the pageant and didn’t have the funds for the pageant registration.  Mrs. Keys cited Jalene’s body frame of 5′ 7″ and 120 pounds was a rationale for her to be as competitive as any of the other contestants. Mrs. Keys was also aware of Jalene’s vocal talents for the competition.

Mrs. Keys informed Jalene to seek sponsorship from local retailers. After much persuasion, Jalene agreed. Within a week, she had obtained the required monies for the registration. However, that was a small task compared to the other financial responsibilities for the pageant. There was the formal attire, the swimwear, the costume for the talent portion of the event. Jalene opted not to allow these matters to deter her.

She had been a seamstress for the past 6 years, routinely receiving first place for her garments in the local 4-H sewing competition. Jalene had designed and sewn a full length formal gown just months prior.  She also had several garments she had recently designed, which she would wear for her interviews and upcoming social events for the pageant.

She had been in the high school chorale and was a regular vocal soloist for weddings and church, so she would select a song from the musical, Oklahoma as her talent. With a pair of jeans, shirt, jacket, cowboy boots and hat, her costume would be complete. She borrowed a leather, fringed jacket, cowboy hats and boots and she felt as confident as any of the gals.

Now it was a matter of giving the competition “her all”, but little did she know the contestant had been selected long before the event began. Please join Jalene in her journey as she enters the city beauty competition and moves forward on her journey.

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