It started first thing every day, whenever I laid eyes on her.
Janie, perfect Janie, would envelop the house in her radiant glow.
The damn bitch can’t even walk down stairs normally. The way my parents look at her through their misty morning eyes- you’d think she was a toddler, doing it for the first time.
”Oh, Janie, I love what you did with your hair this morning!” Mother would coo.
Even Daddy has no trouble tearing his eyes away from the doom and gloom in the newspaper. “Looking sharp, Janie, looking sharp. Score another A for us, will you hon?”
And that’s what she did, every day at school. It didn’t matter if it was a test or a pie eating contest- Janie won every one with top marks. I hate her for it- the way she gets up, so modest and blushing to scattered applause, as if she’d WORKED for THIS victory, as though she hadn’t received another one, just last period!
But days like this were the worst. I fumed all the way up to the bus stop, Janie striding confidently beside me. She knew what was coming as well as I did. School assembly.
They really should start putting one on every week, as Janie wins 7 awards every day. Who cares about other students and their more… scattered achievements? The state’s about to rename the school Saint Janie Marie Anderson Junior High anyway.
It’s always just a matter of time for Janie.
My parents attended the assembly, of course, beaming smiles wide enough to swallow the whole auditorium. Not once did either of their gazes avert in my direction, where I sat with the 9th graders.
”Welcome to the 52nd Montessori Junior High Assembly for academic and extra curricular excellence…” the principal droned. I sighed and slid down into my seat, wondering if anyone else’s name would be called, besides Janie’s.
”The highest mathematical score on the midterm examination goes to… Janie Anderson! The highest overall average for all midterm examinations goes to… Janie Anderson!” My parents whooped and hollered, as though they couldn’t believe their ears. What were you expecting- would she grow dumb like me? I wanted to shout across the auditorium, making my voice heard.
Janie kept getting up with that same sugary sweet smile plastered to her face. I suppressed the urge to kick her as she went past me.
Finally, when Janie had run the 7th grade section to stage marathon for the 10th time, the principal called everyone’s attention up front for a new award. “As many of you know, our new head of the Arts Department has been pressuring me to create a musical excellence award,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
I sat bolt upright. Musical excellence? That was the exact phrase Mrs. Kelly used to describe me on both my report cards this semester- “Ashley shows signs of musical excellence. Encourage her to practice singing at home.” Perhaps this was my chance? To prove myself to my parents? Myself? Even Janie?
”…and the award for musical excellence goes to… Janie Anderson!” the principal roared.
Things went on as they always had. Janie, blushing with gratitude, got up to polite applause, took another award from the school, and rose higher in my parents’ favor.
Later, after showering her with praise, my parents would turn to me and ask, only half joking, “Ashley, why can’t you take a hint from your sister?”