“ The younger brother must help to pay for the pleasures of the elder.” – Jane Austen
It was Sunday. Sunday meant they would go to the grocery store to buy exactly what was on their mother’s list, then to the deli to pick up her pound of pastrami to stick it in their lunches for the week, and then to pick up their father’s dry cleaning. Emmett Kinley was the only one bothered by the fact that their father didn’t join them on the Sunday errands. It was somewhat of a ritual for his mom, but when it came to him and his older brother it was nothing but a drag.
Emmett walked into the living room dressed in his hammy down jeans and the sweatshirt his father had given him a few years ago. The cuffs were frayed and he had a bleach stain under the left armpit, but he wore it religiously. Colts was written across the front and fading along with rest of it. He kind of hated football, preferring baseball since he was six, but it was his father’s favorite. Just like his older brother’s.
“Why aren’t you ready?” Emmett asked his brother who was on the couch in nothing but sweats alongside their father. “Mom’s waiting in the car.”
“I’m not going,” his brother answered without looking away from the television that was flashing images of two large men in suits discussing stats between footage of an injured player. He vaguely remembered his father going on about it the other night at dinner, but hadn’t been listening.
“Yeah right. Mom will kill you.”
“He’s staying here,” his father spoke up, his eyes cutting to Emmett’s. “Now go. Don’t keep your mom waiting.”
Emmett tried to hide his flash of anger, but his father must have seen it because his eyes grew dark. When he was younger, he always thought that when his eyes went black it was a monster trapped inside him. But now he was sixteen and knew differently. He nodded and quickly turned to head out to their car where his mom sat waiting for him. He tried to shield his face from her as he climbed into the front seat and put his seatbelt on silently.
“Don’t be upset,” his mom said softly, turning down the sounds of violins playing rapidly on the radio. He thought he had started to master the art of masking his emotions, but apparently he failed at that too. “They just wanted some time together. That’s all.”
Emmett reached forward jerking the volume back up with his thumb and turned to look out the car window. He wasn’t in the mood to argue the fact that his father should want to spend time with both of his kids. He heard his mother shout something along the lines of “mother-son bonding time”, but pretended not to hear. I guess it wasn’t so surprising his brother was always chosen over him.
His brother was someone to be proud of. He did exceptionally well in school; he had the brains and the popularity. He was an all star on the football team and the leader of the school’s Japanese Club. He set ridiculously high ambitions for himself, and was, so far, achieving all of them. The next big thing was being accepted into MIT and becoming a Marine. Emmett was only a sophomore barley starting out in his Spanish classes while his brother was rapidly becoming the older brother straight out of a television sitcom.
All he managed to achieve was having his first beer and landing his classmate’s phone number the previous weekend. Emmett tried not to let it get to him. Instead, he concentrated on his mom’s music he couldn’t stand. He rested his head on the window, cool against his forehead, and let his eyes close. Rather than the his father’s voice in his head, he heard the sounds of the piano hitting notes he didn’t know existed. Suddenly, violins were jumping in all over the place, then flutes, and soon there was so much noise he didn’t know which was which anymore.