1921
Francine Witte
Doorknobs Winner


Atlantic City, and the bathing beauties waiting like a birth about to happen. Which one will be lucky enough to breed her beauty into the world?

Elsewhere, Communism, fascism also being born. But here on the boardwalk, only beauty is important. The young girls ruffle like flags in the sea wind. All except 18-year-old Tess at the end of the line, who ought to be wildly excited, but isn’t.

First Miss America pageant, and she with her Botticelli hair and no idea about the baby growing in her belly.

The baby that she will discover weeks from now, when the monthblood stops. And that’s when she will learn the truth about Jimmy with the blue, blue eyes, who stroked her hair, who stroked her cheek, who promised her marriage, and where is he now?

Jimmy, who signed her up and said he’d be cheering her first row. And what choice will she have when she nearly wins, but doesn’t, when even beauty cannot save her. That’s when she will trace her way back here to this boardwalk, stand staring at the horizon going boatless. She will wonder how a man can leave you empty and full of his child and endless disgrace, and that’s when there will be nothing left to do but walk step by step into a helpless sea.




First published: February 2019
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