Ivy bent her head down and mumbled under her breath; she ran smack into another angel, Jay. He put his arms out to steady her; her body was trembling. “Ivy Darlin’, what is wrong?”
Wiping tears from her eyes, she looked at her friend’s face. His eyebrows were furrowed and he cocked his head to the side. “I just got the worst assignment ever!”
“Are you being sent to comfort terror victims?” Her face flushed red as she shook her head. “Even worse? I bet you’re following that serial killer. That’s hard to witness; you see the worst of humanity.”
She wrapped her arms around Jay. “You’re not going to believe this - the archangel sent me to be a beauty pageant coach!” Looking up, her mouth fell open at the blank stare on his face. “It’s for a seven year-old!”
Shrugging his shoulders, he dipped his head and almost smiled. “Ivy, that’s no big deal. You’re there to help the kids. This is a pivotal moment; you have the ability to change her life. Many of these kids become self-entitled monsters. Their mothers are so desperate to be on TV that they dress their kids up in adult costumes. I had this gig a while ago and one mother thought it would be cute to dress her daughter like a prostitute. It’s ridiculous what they do for reality television.”
Ivy covered her face and sobbed into her hands, “You just don’t understand; I’m terrified of children.” She paused and all the color drained from her face. “Did you say TV? Oh no, what did I do wrong to receive such a horrible assignment?”
Chuckling, Jay pushed his friend off a cloud. As she plummeted to earth, he shouted, “Better hurry, you have the next generation to save.”
Gingerly, Ivy knelt in front of her new charge, “Hi Shannon, I’m here to help you get ready for the pageant.”
Shannon head-butted Ivy and sent her sprawling backward. “Go away, I hate you! I won’t do this stupid pageant.” She stuck her tongue out and ran off.
Looking at Shannon’s mom, Lauren, Ivy threw her hands up in the air. “Well, I guess I’ll be going. Your daughter obviously doesn’t want to participate.”
“Oh no you don’t, your boss promised you would see this through. We have invested thousands of dollars into this and she will get up on that stage.” As she waggled her finger in Ivy’s face, she screamed, “Shannon, you get out here right now or I’ll be whipping your butt. Just because there are cameras all over, don’t you think for one second that you can get out of this. Your job is to perform and become famous. Now get out here and practice.”
Shannon stomped out, crossed her arms, stuck out her tongue again and punched the cameraman in the stomach. “I’m not going to practice and you can’t make me.”
Turning to Lauren, Ivy half-smiled, “Maybe I can motivate Shannon in private.”
“Fine, but the cameras stay. We need every bit of airtime we can get.”
When her mother left the room, Shannon fell into Ivy’s arms. Her shoulders shook and she smeared snot and tears all over Ivy’s back. Ivy inhaled deeply. “Shh, baby it’s okay. Tell me the truth; do you really hate pageants?” Sniffling Shannon nodded. “Why do you dislike them?"
“The costumes are itchy, my hair is dried out and make-up looks ugly. I want to be on Daddy’s soccer team.”
“How about you do this last pageant and I’ll talk to your parents? Your mom may be more open if she doesn’t feel like she wasted money.”
Shannon hugged Ivy. She noticed the cameras and started crying again. “I might as well forget soccer, once everyone sees the show no one will want to play with me.”
Ivy grinned and raised her right eyebrow, “I think I can handle that; you just do your best at the pageant.”
Cheering and clapping in the audience, Ivy wiped a stray tear when Shannon received the highest honor. She glowed when the MC announced that this was Shannon’s last performance. Obviously, her chat gave Shannon’s dad the strength to do what was best for his daughter.
Back at the television station, the cinematographer was befuddled when all the film with Shannon’s temper tantrums was mysteriously blurry beyond repair. He glanced out the window and saw a dove disappear into the clouds.
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