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Mommy's Favorite

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(This short story is from my short story collection "Odds and Endings: Fiction Short and Otherwise," available NOW on Amazon!  For more info on me and my novels, check out my website at http://www.joederouen.com. Thanks, I hope you enjoy it!)

I was always mother's favorite. Even after my little sister Samantha was born, I was the one who got all of the attention. Samantha came to hate me for it, and who could blame her? She was the baby, and yet I was the one constantly in the spotlight.

"Shouldn't we wait for Samantha?" I asked for the second time, as we began to open gifts on Christmas morning.

I always received the lion's share of the presents for birthdays and holidays, something my dear sister never tired of reminding me. The latest and greatest action figures, video games, Blu-ray players, and later, a brand new car for my 16th birthday. I got it all, and Samantha always had to settle for my hand-me-downs.

My little sister was currently upstairs, changing clothes after Mother complained that her attire (pink pajama bottoms and a "Hello Kitty" spaghetti-strap top) was inappropriate for company. Never mind that the only "company" here was my girlfriend Jordyn, who often dressed similarly in her dorm back at college.

"Nonsense, Alex," Mother said, for the third time pushing a red and green wrapped present with a white bow into my hands. "If she can't dress appropriately, she doesn't deserve to participate in family activities."

Samantha was a junior in high school and hated me more than ever, but I didn't care. I was madly in love with Jordyn, a beautiful and brilliant young woman who was studying to be a veterinarian, and I'd brought her home with me to meet my parents. Everyone adored Jordyn save for my mother, of course, who never seemed to approve of my girlfriends.

The house was decorated beautifully, as it always was for Christmas. The tree was strung with silver garland and sparkling white lights ("No colored lights on my tree," Mother always said) and yuletide trimmings filled the house, including a little baby Jesus manger set on top of the mantle that overhung the fireplace. The lights from the tree reflected off the maple wood floor and the metal surrounding the fireplace, giving the baby Jesus an unearthly glow.

"No need to wait for me, Alexander," said Samantha, using the long form of my name as she stomped down the stairs. "Go ahead and open your gifts. You'll still be opening them long after I'm finished anyway."

It was always a sure sign that she was angry with me when she used my full name, and it didn't seem to matter whether or not I actually did anything to deserve it.

I sliced off another thin piece of the coffee cake that sat atop the coffee table. Four matching mugs of cocoa with our names on them and a fifth, unmatched one, also sat atop the table. I felt bad that Jordyn didn't have a matching mug, but she'd assured me that her feelings weren't hurt in the slightest.

"Well, she's here now," said Father, trying to broker peace as usual. "Come on, honey, let's open the presents."

Jordyn snuggled close to me, whispering in my ear, "Is it always like this?"

"Pretty much," I whispered back, taking her hand in mine.

It was pretty much always like this, though Christmas was usually the worst. I got all of the attention, regardless of whether or not I deserved or even wanted it. Why, then, did I always feel that I could never live up to the attention that was lavished on me?

Alexander is a nice name, as far as names go, but I never felt it suited me, not even the nickname Alex. My sister was born when I was six, and from then on I coveted her name. I even went so far as to create an imaginary friend — a boy, just like me — named Sam. If I couldn't have the name, at least my imaginary friend could. My sister hated my Sam almost as much as she hated me, once she found out about him.

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