The Protégée

These days Raphael was living a double life, one as a make-up artist and the other as a Miss Universe contestant. The two worlds never mixed together, and it took a lot of art to conceal from Elizabeth her Miss Universe commitments. But this could not last for long, as Raphael discovered that they were both due to attend the boot camp on Mercury. Thankfully it was quite a large compound, so the truth could be delayed for a few days.

  Raphael tried hard not to spend too much time in public areas, and covered her large brown eyes with shades. Elizabeth's presence was felt often, and every time they were about to meet Raphael hid in the nearest exit. Raphael had found out from a bell boy that Elizabeth was the previous years' winner of Miss Universe, so she knew that the contest meant a lot to Elizabeth.

  Raphael was ambling by the pool one day when she walked into a chimera. The chimera had angel wings, and looked to be a rather young woman of rich tastes.

  "Oh, my apologies," Raphael cut a stunning look in her yellow sundress. Her skin was lightly tanned and her long black hair fell casually down her back. When she smiled it was the demeanour of a saint.

  "What a contestant!" Beamed the chimera. "I'm Amina Tolstoy. Pleased to meet you."

  Raphael smiled. "The Amina? I've heard so much about you! You must have put a lot of effort into organising the contest. You look a lot younger than I had imagined."

  Amina nodded. "The longevity techniques work a treat. I'm three hundred years old, give or take. Listen, I'm on the team of several girls and training them as we speak. Do you mind if I join your team?"

  "Of course you may." Raphael couldn't believe her luck. She accepted Amina's business card with grace.

  The next day, Raphael was practising her catwalk pose in her room. She tried swaying more, then swaying less. She swung her arms a lot, then a little. After a morning of intense training with Amina giving her instructions, she was ready to go. In the auditorium she stood in a queue of other women waiting for instructions.

  As the music played, Raphael strutted out onto the stage. With every step she took an exaggerated sway then a half twist. As she walked halfway along the platform the judges murmured approval. However, disaster struck when the woman behind her, Elouise, trod on her heel and Raphael took a tumble. Raphael could have sworn that the attempt was deliberate. Raphael was about to be pulled from the contest when Amina intervened and let her have another go. With no jealous contestants behind her, Raphael finished the walk flawlessly.

  She was awarded a score of seven, six and five, seven being the highest score.

The End

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