Chapter 1

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My brother Kevin was an idiot.

I could have started at any point of his sad, sad life to come up with examples: the time he ruined my science project, or the time he nearly destroyed his own play…but I suppose the most relevant example would be the fact that as a fresh college graduate, Kevin was on the verge of single-handedly collapsing our entire household.

This happened a lot more often than you’d think.

This happened about…oh, once or twice a day.

“If he doesn’t start earning his own keep around here, then that boy is going to have to move out sometime!” Dad shouted from the next room over.

Mom screamed back, “That boy is your son!”

“PLEASE STOP REMINDING ME!”

See what I mean? Complete and utter household destruction. You know, I was starting to think that was what Kevin majored in at Arizona State University. In a way, it was admirable how dependable he could be when it came to bringing chaos to our lives.

Whenever Kevin was around, everything in the house would just start spiraling out of control. My parents. My living space. Earth’s gravity…(ha-ha. Kevin would have killed me for that one, once upon a time when he was quite...large).

That was why I liked to bury myself into the one thing that was always dependable: school. Kevin (and a lot of other people) thought I was crazy for it, but facts and knowledge wouldn’t ever change on me. Facts and knowledge gave me some sense of continuity in this crazy world.

Besides, with Kevin barely nabbing his undergrad at Arizona State University, I had a whole lot of ground to make up for him in academics.

So, yes. I guess you could say that my life was school. School, books, and the school-wide campaign for student council president.

I’d been on Franklin High School’s student council for three years now, doing mostly the grunt work that the seniors liked to push on all the underclassmen. Now that I was finally a senior at Franklin High School, I had only one chance to rule the council and be the one ordering all the grunt work for once.

Well, that, and it was my last chance to put a big, fat ‘Student Council President’ on my college applications in two months. Winning this election was pretty much a matter of life or death for me. 

I was in the middle of gluing huge pictures of myself onto poster board when the family-destroyer himself poked his Arizona State-capped head into my room.

“Jesus, Nancy. Did you buy out the entire stock of poster board at Target?” Kevin said in disbelief.

He was referring to the haphazard spread of posters that I was currently wallowing through. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell where the carpet began and the posters ended.

“Kevin,” I sighed, “go away.”

He looked disgruntled. “Is that any way to talk to the big brother who just got back from graduation?”

“The same big brother who is also the reason my parents are practically tearing each others’ eyes out? Yes, I think it is.”

Unfortunately, I think Kevin had gotten too used to the less-than-friendly attitude I adopted whenever school was stressing me out (always). He slid down next to me, ripping two posters in the process.

 “Hey! Can’t you see I’m busy here?”

“Yeah, but I thought I could help.”

I rolled my eyes. Kevin helping with schoolwork was like me playing football or failing a test. It just didn’t happen.

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