- Miss Curaçao
Like domino players dealing a hand in the middle of their game, two players—contestant and judge—battle on stage.
Thirty-two tiles are at stake. On my island, the first to block wins. I crown myself first Miss Curaçao. Next, I’ll win the crown in Miami.
As I get off my plane, my skin is graded in Miami. The platform divides into black and white aisles. I’m separated from the other women.
On stage, my mind races in Dutch. Anne-Marie Anne-Marie, fans call out my name. People protest my crown. Outside, on South Beach,
the water is blue like the sea back home where the roosters crow and the men sway their hips to calypso and steel pan beats.
People lined-up around me, like domino tiles ready to block. After the contest, they console me as I faced a double six-figure loss. [End Page 246]
Am I still a contestant? I am a pageant queen, only in Ebony, their centerfold dressed in red and yellow. My national costume falls.
The winner blocks on six, all is black and white. [End Page 247]
Jina Ortiz has published in a number of periodicals, including the Sahara, Afro-Hispanic Review, Calabash, Poui, New Millennium Writings, Solstice Magazine, The Caribbean Writer, New Works Review, and Worcester Review. She received the MFA in creative writing from The Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA, and residency fellowships from the Art Omi/Ledig House International Writers’ Residency, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Vermont Studio Center.