Thu. Oct 21st, 2021

“You are so beautiful!”

It’s amazing how a compliment as simple as such can have a compelling power of its own.  It releases a kind of energy so strong; it can uplift a person and make his spirit soar.  Without compliments, a person is simply nothing, an existence merely forgotten.  Or so I have always told myself.

“My, Jane, you’re definitely the total package! Why can’t your twin be more like you?”   Jane stands beside me, proud and tall in her hourglass figure, her pearly whites lighting up the room.

Jane, always the picture perfect girl – the apple of everyone’s eyes, the “one who has it all,” people would say, green with envy.

Then again, who wouldn’t be?  At a height of 5’9, she towers over the girls in school.  A queen among peasants, her gait is so confident and familiar with the worshipping stares that follow her.

We are twins, yes, but no two thumbprints are the same.  We are not a pair of peas in a pod; we are different as night and day.  Her face launches a thousand ships, while mine sends them sailing to retreat.  She overshadows everyone, whereas I do not.  While she fits easily in the puzzle, I struggle to fit in.  One with the envious peasants, I fade in the background as she basks in the limelight.

God, I hate her, and her perfect life! Why can’t I be her?  I can swim, but the pool of my insecurities is so deep, I drown in it.

Then it hit me, like a ton of bricks.  Even the sharpest pencil can break.  Once upon a time, I tried to destroy her; she remained unbroken.  But I need the attention; I will persist.

I scramble for the laptop, going online.  School taught me that words could break a person more easily than actions could.

“What’s on your mind?”

The status bar finally appears on my screen.  Like Ludwig Beethoven on the piano, my fingers dance wildly across the keyboard.

Yes, Jane may be all about beauty, but guess what?  She actually has a brain the size of your –  

No! This will not do! I immediately hit the backspace button.  Never let Jane’s pretty face fool you.  A gifted prodigy since the age of 3, a dean’s lister five times in a row, and an exemplary Math wizard, she makes the Albert Einsteins on campus bow down to her.

Sighing tremendously, I try again.

Ever wonder what Jane’s secret to beauty and fame is?  The answer is simply in her name: Mary Jane = marijuana.

YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG! I lash out, furiously clearing all the text.  No one will truly believe me, not after Jane’s recent presidential antidrug campaign on campus.  Besides, people will only want proof of my statement, which I clearly do not have.

I lie in bed, contemplating the many ways to insult her.  Huh, is this Jane’s phone I see?  Curious, I pick it up.  Thank God she does not have a password! I miraculously stumble across a video of her at a bar, drunk, dancing like a madwoman with two left feet.

I insert the video to my post, and my fingers type away.

When you’re drunk at a party but you can’t dance. 

Now that’s more like it.  I start to envision the reactions I will get.

“What a genius caption! Why has no one ever thought of that?”

“Looks like Jane is not Miss Perfect after all.”

Then the post will mark the beginning of my popularity.  The sound of mockery will echo the hallways.  Her once close friends will turn against her, leaving her alone and friendless – walking somberly down the halls in shame.

I am about to upload it, until –

“Meredith, have you seen my phone?” Jane enters the room.  I close my laptop, and hand her phone to her.

The next words she says stun me.

“Thanks, sis.  Gosh, Chelsea’s back at it again with the trash talk – about this girl in our class.”

“You know, I envy you.  The limelight can be such an uncomfortable place, the longer you stay in it.”

All this time, I have been trying to thwart her reputation – all fueled by my envy.  All this time, I have been trying to shift the spotlight to me – only to discover she has never loved all the attention.  I’ve turned so petty, this is not right.

 The inferno of anger and resentment I keep deep inside slowly dies down, reducing itself to tiny sparks of flame, and then to nothing.  Envy leaves the doors of my heart, now an unwanted guest.

I want to say something, to tell her about all the pent-up emotions I have felt back then.  I want to go on my knees and beg for mercy, for all the sins I was close to committing.  But instead, the pathetic, embarrassed fool in me watches her gently shut the door and leave.

Ashamed and brimming with regret, my cheeks go red as I sign off.

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