Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Matter of Circumstance

I was always so jealous of her.  She was everything that defined my idea of “ideal.”  Everything I wanted to be, but wasn’t.  She had an older brother.  So much older, in fact, that he had already left home several years ago to join the navy while she was still in high school.  Handsome in his uniform, and far off in some exotic place fighting in the war, he made her the envy of her friends.  Myself included.  Imagine, having a brother like that!

How was I supposed to know…

Just a few weeks ago she had written him a letter, and she had gushed on so, in her letter, about nothing in particular.  The letter she now held in her hands,  returned and marked “undeliverable”- mocking  her with it’s happiness, and hope, and optimism.

Her returned letter was to be followed, a month later by a telegram.  Answering some questions, but leaving others in it’s wake.  Questions that had no answers within her reach.  Questions that threatened to break her heart, with eventual answers that would break her heart.

How could I tell…

Her initial pain had subsided after a while, along with the shock, but it had been replaced by a dull ache that seemed to saturate her body.  And then-a new emotion.  One she had not counted on, and was with her constantly.

Jealousy.  What small and fragile spark of joy the news of her brother’s death had left in her,  jealousy threatened to extinguish.  It wasn’t fair, she told herself, that there were other brothers, in other families, who had returned home from the war, and were now resuming their normal  lives with their loved ones.    A luxury her own brother was to be denied.

So unbearable was this unfairness, and so consuming was her jealousy, that she avoided everyone.   She avoided me.

Because, as perfect and enviable as I may have thought she was-and as much as I wanted to be like her,  I had something she didn’t have. 

My brother.

How was I to ever to believe…

That she could be jealous of me.

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