Broken Pretty Things

By Grant Faulkner

Somebody once told her that bitterness was easier than hope to hand down from one generation to another. That statement always stuck with her.

Her father, a trumpet player in Lawrence Welk's orchestra who always wanted to play with Miles Davis, called her Princess growing up. Everybody called her Princess, in fact, even though her name was Peggy.

Her high school drama teacher back in Lubbock told her she had "that something." It seemed like he knew everything. That's the way he talked, like he was a man of the world, somebody who made important decisions.

She entered one beauty contest after another. She went from "Cattle Queen" at a small county fair in Texas to wet t-shirt contests in San Diego and Hawaii. After a while it seemed like all of life was a beauty contest, but no one called her Princess anymore. Her father phoned her every week, his voice far away and upside-down drunk, telling her to just keep trying. "True artists never give up," he said. He was so hopeful, too hopeful, she thought sometimes.