"But...I want to show mom my test," Emmett said, holding it up.
"Come listen to your brother play. Then you can show her after," Ken said.
Emmett slowly lowered his test. "I don't want to listen to Beckett play."
"That's not nice, Emmett," Ken said sternly. "Come listen to him."
Ken went upstairs to go get his wife, and Beckett bounded over to Emmett. He smiled up at his brother.
"Come listen, Emmett! I can play it really well," he said.
Emmett looked at his smiling brother and felt anger rising in him. Even when he finally had something worthy of praise, Beckett came and snatched it away. Always stealing the spotlight, from the moment he was born.
Emmett didn't know how to play the piano. His parents had patiently tried to teach him, but gave up when it just wasn't clicking. His mother tried to teach him the violin, but he couldn't get the hang of that, either. Music wasn't his calling.
He worked so hard in school, but there was always that one tiny concept he screwed up, bringing his grade down just a few points shy of 100. No matter how hard he studied, with or without his parents' help, he always missed something. He was good at school, but Beckett was better.
Beckett was better. Beckett was the little genius. Their little piano man. His tests were always hanging on the fridge. His accomplishments were always more impressive than Emmett's.
"Emmett?" Beckett said, cocking his head to the side.
And Emmett shoved him. Not hard. But hard enough.
Beckett stumbled and tripped over his bag, falling on the ground. Anger tore across his face as tears rose in his eyes.
"You jerk! That hurt!" he cried.
"What happened?" their mother, Anna, said in alarm as she hurried down to them.
"Emmett pushed me and I fell!" Beckett said, trying to get back to his feet.
Anna hastily picked him up and held him back. His temper was a dangerous, wild thing, and she didn't want the boys to start a fight.
"Emmett!" she said, glaring at him. "Why would you push him?"
Oh, sure, Beckett got angry and everyone babied him until he was calm again, no matter how he lashed out. But Emmett got angry and he was going to get punished.
"I got mad," he said, Beckett's usual excuse.
"That is absolutely no excuse to hurt your little brother!" Anna said, lifting Beckett into her arms. "Are you okay, Beck?"
Beckett wiped at his eyes. "I didn't do anything, mom. I wanted to play my new song for everyone."
She kissed his cheek. "I know, honey. I know. It's okay." She turned her glare back on Emmett. "Are you proud of yourself, Emmett?"
No. He wasn't. And neither was anyone else.
"I'll go to my room," he grumbled.
"Yes, you will. And you'll leave your Gameboy outside the door, because I'm taking it away for pushing your brother," Anna said.
Beckett hadn't even gotten hurt. Emmett didn't even push him that hard. He was just a crybaby. He always wanted more attention.
And sure enough, Anna started rocking side to side with him in her arms as he wiped away his tears. She kissed him and smiled at him and told him he was okay, that he should cheer up and go play his new song for her because she'd love to hear it.
She didn't ask Emmett about his test, and Emmett didn't bother showing her.
He went up to his bedroom and shut the door. He angrily crumpled the paper and shoved it into the garbage.
"Stupid, stupid!" he said in frustration.
He sat on the floor, glaring at his backpack. And when the sound of the piano reached his ears, he pressed his hands over them until the sound couldn't reach him anymore.
His stupid little brother. His stupid, genius little brother. They'd probably make his favorite dinner to celebrate his good grade. They'd probably take the boys out for ice cream and get Beckett a large that he wouldn't even finish. They'd buy him a new toy to congratulate him. They'd put his grade up on the fridge.
Emmett didn't even realize he was crying at first. He wiped at his eyes desperately, knowing his mom wouldn't pick him up and rock with him and tell him he was okay. She'd tell him he was mean to his brother and tears wouldn't fix what he'd done.
"I hate him," Emmett whispered, hugging his knees to his chest and crying into them. He wished Beckett was never born.
He hated his brother. He hated his brother so much.
And he hated that he'd never be good enough.