"A Burning Envy"
It was just past ten o’clock in the morning and already Rupert had suffered a bit lip, two stolen cars, and a face plant after the smelly derriere of his sister pinned him to the Cheerio-laden floor. Rupert was hungry, tired, but most of all Rupert was fed up with his twin sister. She paraded her elder twin status around like the Queen of Sheba. It wasn’t his fault that she had been born two minutes ahead of him. Even in the womb, she had dominated keeping him at the bottom until game time where she flipped her head down and pushed past her brother. It was no surprise to Rupert that as their first year and half of life had dawdled by, she had grown bigger and stronger than him, often usurping all of the good milk, leaving Rupert with remnants of her spittle to deal with. But this time Charlotte had gone too far. This time she would not get away with stealing another one of his goddamn toys even if his afternoon snack depended on it.
Thinking back, Rupert couldn’t remember the first time she had done it. It had just always been a part of their dynamic. If he had a binky, she wanted it. If he had a stuffy, she cried for it from her mound of stuffed bunnies and teddys. When they were young, these disputes were often diffused by a clever distraction from their mother, a toss up in the air from their father or a belly blaster kiss from Grammy. But as soon as those legs were up and moving, Charlotte was a force to be reckoned with. It didn’t help Rupert’s case that it took him a whole month later to learn to walk. But those four weeks afforded Rupert the gift of time, a greatly-appreciated lesson in strategy.
For Christmas, Santa had given Rupert two Hotwheels cars. Charlotte had gotten a doll she subsequently tortured. But whenever Rupert began to play with the cars, Charlotte, in her spongy diaper and head full of red curls, would come bounding over. She would rip the cars from his hands yelling, “Mine!” Rupert didn’t know why he cried. He didn’t know if they were tears of frustration, fear, or simply disappointment that he would have to go through life associated with this bitch. Maybe they were tears of embarrassment at his mother’s reaction. “Don’t let your sister do that to you! Go and get your toy!” she would say all the while standing by teaching Rupert a lesson he did not appreciate. But Rupert knew he would have his revenge, and so, he waited and plotted until the day when the heat from the patio left a blurry horizon.
While Charlotte was singing along to some stupid puppet, Rupert pushed his car through the gate to the back yard. He watched its shiny metal coat bake in the sun turning into a well-disguised ember. When their mother began to heat their afternoon bottles, Rupert positioned himself close to the gate at the open door. As their mother released the gate, Rupert ran to his Hotwheels grabbing the attention of Charlotte. Charlotte quickly dropped her naked doll chasing Rupert outside. As Rupert bent down to pick up the scalding toy, Charlotte muscled her way in front of him and grabbed the car with both hands, screaming, “Mine!” It was in that moment, with Charlotte’s first tears as she looked down at the deceitful toy burning her hand, that Rupert was able to enjoy being the smaller, but the brighter of a pair of twins.