The girl could have been pretty. Her long hair swept back around high cheek bones, complimenting her thin angled face, along her jaw line creamy skin framed perfect strawberry lips. But there the pretty ended. Just over left lip a red-pink mark started, it bloomed over her cheek and stretched out to her ear. Her eyes looked normal, clear and blue, but her eye lid split down the middle, half creamy flesh, half angry red.

In the third grade she decided the stain was shaped like the continent of Australia. As if someone had applied a decal of it, snagging the west coast on the side of her nose, wrapping the northern shores above her eye. The splotch ranged from deep purple, almost blue, to a bright red, as if she had been permanently slapped by life.

She hated the spot.

She loved it too.

Her twin sister, Nona, had no stains. The little girl’s perfection became clear to their mother when the twins were only three. Immediately their mother thrust Nona into the world of beauty pageants. The marked twin could run and play, read books and imagine, the perfect one practiced walking and smiling, was tormented by beauticians. Nona endured constituent judgment. Her twin lived as a ghost, completely free.

Nona won twenty thousand dollars by the fourth grade, and had a pageant coach by sixth. He took her sister’s virginity in a small hotel room while Nona won the Sweet 16 Crown in the ballroom six floors below. The sex made the marked twin into a woman. For three months it consumed her. The man taught her ever position, every technique. Her skill exceeded his teaching, but she fancied herself in love. Then as he pushed into her the pageant coach called her sister’s name. Suddenly his habit of turning her face to the right during love making did not seem so romantic.

She told the worst gossip of a pageant mother, swearing the woman to a secrecy that would never last and protect only herself, the poor victim. Nona continued with pageants, a case of crowns and trophies overflowed in the living room. Her sister continued with older men, men with means. Nona pushed her body, demanding strict perfection, gaining an eating disorder, losing her friends. Her sister’s body stayed a temple, and the men who worshiped at it paid dearly for the privilege. A young lawyer saw Nona on stage, decided she was the beautiful articulate woman he needed by his side. She left pageants to become a wife.

Her sister became much more important. She became a whore.