Just Because
Chapter Three
By Mija

"Honey, what's wrong? You look like your pet dog died?" my mother inquired, giving me her classic worried look.

I raised an eyebrow. "Umm, mom, I don't have a pet dog."

My brother rolled his eyes. "Of course you don't have a pet dog. Besides, if you did, I'm willing to bet that the cause of death of Monsieur Chien would be murder by you." He buttered two pieces of toast and swallowed both pieces whole. He then chugged a huge glass of milk, and unsuccessfully stifled a burp.

I wrinkled my nose. "That's disgusting, Garrett. Where are your manners?" I asked, chiding him as sternly as I could. "One would have thought that three years of high school taught you some type of etiquette." I pointed a finger at him and shook my head, feigning disappointment.

He stuck out his tongue. "Seeing as I seem to have a gastronomical talent, I belched my manners all the way to the Andes. Perhaps you'd like to search for them there? I hear the Andes is a great place to live in. You know, permanently? I'm sure the yaks would love to have your company."

I threw him a piece of my toast, and being the athletically impaired person that I am, I missed. Not even close. So, the said piece of toast made its way inside my water goblet.

"Geneva!" my mother exclaimed, exasperatedly. "Those are my favourite goblets. Not only that, they are a priceless--"

"Yes, yes mother, I know," I interrupted, "they are a priceless family heirloom and I should not tempt fate by causing bodily harm to any of them. Mother, your children are fine. Besides, if you love them so dearly, why are they out in the open where Garrett's powerful gastro-delights can wound them?"

My brother folded his arms and looked at me in contempt. "You're just jealous because you don't have the power."

"Oh, yes, it's quite a shame that I don't have the power to scare the crap out of any living thing. I bow in awe of you, your majesty," I said, sarcastically, giving him a short bow.

My father dropped the newspaper he was reading and folded it neatly. "Now, little children, as much as I love watching you two exchange your witty repartees, don't you all have something more productive to do that prod at each other?"

A short silence arose.

"No," Garrett and I said at the same time, followed by a loud, "Jinx!"

My mother shook her head in disbelief. "Very mature you two, very mature. Now Garrett and Geneva stop jinxing yourselves and eat." She turned to me, her expression quickly changing to a more serious tone. "Now, Geneva, I hope you plan on doing better this year. Honey, I do wish that you would try harder."

I rolled my eyes. Here we go again, harping on my grades just because it's not as good as Garrett's. I don't resent him, really. I mean, how is it his fault that the Powers That Be decided he would be the smart one? Nevertheless, I already knew what was coming next.

"Geneva, honey, why can't you be more like your brother. Your brother may be a goofball at times, but his marks are still excellent," my mother continued.

"You know mom, I tried to be like him, I really did, but his clothes just didn't fit me," I deadpanned. "Between you and me, I think Garrett needs a diet."

We've had this conversation hundreds of times before, and I've created a solution for it: get out of it as soon as possible, taking some sort of comical jab or delving into the wonderful world of sarcasm whenever the conversation permits.

My brother stood up, clearly uncomfortable by the current topic. "Come on, runt, let's go. I'll give you a ride to school. I'm sure you'll be the coolest kid on the sophomore block once your little school chums see you in my new ride."

I snorted. "Right, because riding in a beat up 1874 model of god knows what car with my completely deranged brother is really cool. Oh, yeah. Very chic, especially the peeling paint and the stuck sunroof," I jibed.

Garrett lightly smacked my head. "Hey, when you finally get your license and get yourself your own car, then you can mock me. Until then, prepare to suffer my wrath. That's my baby you're talking about! Besides, you know I'm the hottest senior in our school."

"Right, of course. And I'm engaged to be married with the prince of Denmark."


Garrett glanced at me strangely. "For what?"

I shrugged. "I don't know, for getting me out of that thing with mom, I guess." I reached to turn on the radio. "You know I hate it when she gets all Herr Mother and everything."

"Eh. It's uncomfortable for both of us. But you know, mom does have a point. Well, not the comparing part, but about you doing better," he said, drumming his finger to the beat of the music. He grinned. "Who knew Britney Spears could come up with such a catchy tune? Anyway, you're a lot more capable of what your exerting now. I don't know – it's like you stopped caring all of a sudden."

"Britney Spears? Eugh. So that's why I suddenly feel nauseated." I joked, half-heartedly. I changed the radio dial, flipping to whatever else was less irritating. "I'm just tired, you know? I'm tired of the expectations and the constant disappointments. That, and I could never measure up to you," I admitted. "So I figured, why not disappoint them now? Once they're used to me failing, may be they won't have any more expectations. You know? Save them for the much greater sorrow that is my life twenty years from now. At least if I fail them now, mom won't have a heart attack if she finds out I became a schizophrenic bag lady or something."

My brother laughed, heartily.

"Thanks, you jerk. Here I am, baring my innermost thoughts to you, and you decide to laugh. Yeah, real sensitive, Garrett. Nice to know my brother is such a caring individual."

He tried to control his chuckling. "Sorry, but you should hear how you sounded just now. You could be such a drama queen, you know? I bet you'll be a really good actress one day if you get over this stereotypical notion of yours that everyone who takes drama is a stoner." He did his best to compose himself, shaking his head every now and then. Finally, he took a deep breath and looked at me squarely. "You could be a Chief Executive of some firm or a bag lady and you'll never disappoint us. At least, you'll never disappoint me. Gen, the expectations aren't there because mom and dad think you can't do it or because you can't measure up to me. They're there because they know and I know that you can reach them and even surpass it."

"Right," I mumbled. I didn't know what else to say. My brother and I have always been close, I suppose, but we have never really had a lot of these sentimental moments. Our interactions usually consisted of sarcastic quips, witty retorts, and the occasional object throwing.

We drove in silence as we neared our school. I silently prayed that some divine intervention would happen and the school would suddenly burn to a crisp. I didn't care who answered it: Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Donald Trump – anyone. The four words became my mantra: burn to a crisp, burn to a crisp, burn to a crisp…

I was jolted out of my reverie when Garrett slapped my shoulder. "We're here, runt. Have a nice day being a sophomore," he said. "And please, don't terrorise anyone until tomorrow, yeah? Give me the day off before I start to do any saving of your behind. Please. Let me enjoy my first day of my senior year first, okay?"

I stuck my tongue at him. "Sure, whatever you want, loser."

I opened the car door and slowly stepped out.

Oh, yes. This is going to be a great school year.