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Jade Hainsworth-Walsh

Number twenty-three ruined her makeup by crying. Thick slug-trails of tears marred the caked-on, too-dark foundation and the pink glitter on her eyelids joined the streams as her face scrunched up. The mother covered her little girl’s wailing mouth with her hand.
        ‘Stop crying!’ she hissed, but the girl only cried harder. ‘You’re embarrassing me!'
        ‘I don’t want to do it!’
        The girl wrenched free from her mother’s grip and ran down the hall to escape, tutu flapping limply as the cameraman followed her, lens trained on her misery.
        The mother grabbed child twenty-three and pulled her into a nearby room.
        ‘You will do it, or Mummy will be very angry! And you wouldn’t want Mummy to be cross, would you?’ The mother pushed her further into the small room as her daughter wailed. ‘You need a time out before you can start,’ shoving her daughter away when she tried to cling to her leg for comfort. ‘Mummy loves you!’ She locked the door and slipped the key into her pocket, and then set a timer on her phone for three minutes.
        The camera’s unemotional lens recorded the child’s cries as the mother looked towards the stage, where girl nineteen was posing under glaring lights for an adult audience.