You know how people ask you questions to fill awkward pauses in conversation? And how usually one of them is, " If you could have a wish granted, what would it be?" Well I have known ever since I was a little girl what I would wish for: that my older sister, Lola, had never been born.

My whole life, I have always lived in the shadow of Lola's overpowering existence. I have not even had the luck of being born first and thereby having a year or so free of her presence, time for me to shine without her brilliant glow to overpower mine. Lola, at 17, was born three years before me, and even from the beginning she captured everyone's hearts. She was a gorgeous baby, not red and swollen like I was. Her dark, fuzzy hair was thicker and shinier than mine, and her brown eyes were large and soulful, while mine were small and squinty. She was a demanding baby as she grew to be a demanding person, wanting the attention of all near. She cried and fussed when the attention was not focused on her, then giggled and beamed when they hurried to console her. They should have known then she'd be exactly the same as a teen.

I was a quiet baby, rarely crying or drawing attention to myself. I took whatever anyone was willing to take from Lola to give to me... just as I do now.

Lola must always be surrounded by people who admire her and agree with her. Groups of girls, each pretty and popular, but none with Lola's sultry, stunning allure, and all with nothing but air in their brains. Lola likes to hang around those not as smart as her- it makes her feel superior. If there was not a group of girls trailing her, it was a gang of guys, each blushing and stuttering, even the arrogant jocks falling into tongue-tied dazes around Lola. She could do that- take who you were and what you believed and with one word, twist it and mix it around so much you could forget yourself and go blank, no longer sure of anything. I watched her flirt for years, suggesting with her eyes to each he was the one who interested her. They all fell for it. i watched her toy with the hearts of every boy and the heads of every girl in school from my lonely spot in the distance. Lola made it all seem so easy, and for her, it was. She was never without someone, as I was. I walked the halls of our school alone, head down, shoulders slumped. At lunch I studied in the library. I was the plain one, with straight hair and a pointy chin, who at 14, still had the flat, thin body of a 10 year old. I had never been kissed or even held hands with a boy. i was the serious one, the nerd. Girls did not come to my sleepovers, and guys did not blush around me and ask for my phone number. To everyone, I seemed like just another of the shy, meek geeks, completely benign and harmless. Pathetic. But inside I was raging at the unfairness of it all...

Despite everything Lola had that I lacked, despite all her friends, boyfriends, popularity, looks, and charisma, I still could have dealt with it. I could have forgiven her all this, and loved her, been close to her as you should a sister. But with Lola, such a thing was impossible. Around parents, teachers, friends, relatives, anyone of the thousands who adored her, Lola treated me with sticky sweetness. She had to keep up her image of everyone's golden girl, and loving her little sister was part of that. But when we were alone, she did a 180. She treated me with such contempt, teasing me for what she had that I didn't, calling me names and making me know she was superior. " Obscene Irene," she hissed. " Go away, Obscene Irene. I don't want you here! Sit in your corner and wallow in your gloom!" And most of the time, I would- I had no place else to go.

When I was younger, I was hurt so by the way she treated me. When she taunted me, I would cry, wondering what I could do to make her love me, even a little bit. I didn't understand how devious she was. I only knew in front of everyone else, she was so nice to me. I savored those moments, eagerly latching on and soaking up all her attention she tossed my way. Id didn't understand why when we were alone, she changed so abruptly. I didn't then, but I do now... and I hate her for it.

It was during those times when Lola was kind to me that I'd try to cram in everything I wanted to say to her, to confide to her, without fear of her mocking me. I didn't care if her friends did- it wasn't their approval I wanted. One day I was hanging around Lola and three of her friends in her bedroom. I was almost 14, and I knew of Lola's true nature, so I suppose it was boredom and temporary insanity that made me do it. Lola and her friends were giggling over guys they thought were hot. They didn't really want me there, I could tell, even Lola's thickly veiled hostility toward me was apparent by the edge in her voice. But for some stupid reason, I stayed anyway. After all the girls had spilled, Heather turned to me and said in a nasty voice, " So who do you like, Irene?" The smirk on her face told me without her needing to say it that whoever it was, he wouldn't like me back.

I tried to get out of saying anything, protesting I liked no one, but my stammers and blushes revealed I was lying and egged them on.

" Come on," they needled me. " We told you ours. You can't not tell us, that's not fair. We won't tell!"

Even Lola joined in. Her gentle words and soft tone didn't fool me; I could see the vicious spark in her eyes. " Irene, if you don't tell I'll never let you hang out with us again," she said. It was not her words, but the scary glint in her eye that convinced me I'd better say something. If I didn't, when the girls left, I'd be made sorry.

So with a beet red face, I muttered I liked Cole Thanovan, had, in fact, from the time I was 10 years old and saw him come out of Lola's 8th grade class when my mom and I picked her up. Cole was the most handsome boy I had ever seen, with his dark hair and eyes and long lashes. I doubt he even knew my name, but it was my dream that one day he would notice me.

With that announcement, the girls hooted, gasping that Cole could never like me, he was 17 and I was 14, not yet in high school. They laughed until I fled the room in tears, mortified. How could I have admitted I liked Cole, a boy so obviously above me! I knew that night Lola would use her new knowlege to torment me.

But to my shock, she didn't. She never mentioned it again. I was incredulous at first, sure she was biding her time, making some new game to shock me more when she finally mentioned it.

I dropped my guard after a few days, deciding she must have forgotten, or in a rare act of kindness, decided not to tease me about it. Whatever reason, I was grateful. I didn't see that in Lola's sneaky, subtle way, she was going to use her knowledge to hurt me worse than she'd ever hurt me before...

That same year I started my freshman year in high school, and Lola started her senior year. As I had expected, I was just as much an outcast in high school as in middle school. Lola, of course, was still a social butterfly. She could have had her pick of any guy in school- and there were plenty vying for her affections. Yet I noticed, to my deep suspicion and growing horror, that it was one boy in particular she bestowed her charms on. One boy did she flash her glowing, laughing at his jokes and and touching his arm every time she spoke to him. It was he whose arm she clutched in the halls, who she spoke to more than any other. And it was he who more than any other seemed enraptured with her. This boy was Cole Thanovan.1

I tried to deny it at first, to downplay the obvious signs that my sister was trying to take Cole for herself before my eyes, knowing I could in no way compete. I told myself they were just friends- everyone liked Lola, after all. Why not Cole?2

But I could no longer deny the obvious the day I came home from the library only to discover Lola and Cole thrusting tongues down each other's throats in the living room. I halted in utter shock and horror, unable to trust my eyes. My sister, less than four weeks after I'd told her I'd had a crush on Cole for four years, was making out with him in my own house! I think I made an involuntary strangled sound in my throat, because finally they withdrew from each other and turned to me. Lola smiled, seeming friendly, but I saw the malicious delight in her eyes.3

" Oh, Irene," she said. " I don't think you two have met. This is my boyfriend Cole. Cole, this is my sister Irene. She's a freshman."4

I couldn't speak. Her betrayal had emptied me of all words. Without thinking, I fled the room, locking myself into my room. I couldn't banish the image of Lola and Cole entangled in each other. It was burned into my mind. At first I was upset and humiliated. How could I have been so stupid? There was no chance Cole had ever liked me or ever would- why should he when he could have Lola? Why was I so surprised? Stupid, stupid Irene!5

But after the initial instinctive reactions of blaming myself- something I was very used to doing- I began to get angry. Not at me or Cole- for who could blame him- but at Lola. She had known I liked Cole, had for years, she'd been the one who pried it out of me! And what had she done? She'd used it to hurt me, turning her wiles on him full on, so he could not help but be drawn to her. The more I thought about it, the angrier I grew. At that moment, I wanted more than anything in life for Lola to die.6

As soon as the thought entered my head, I knew instantly it was a good idea. A right idea. Everything would be so much better for me if Lola were dead. I wouldn't have to watch from the shadows anymore as she took everything good for herself. With Lola gone, without her showing me up, my accomplishments would seem much better. Sure, for a while, everyone would mourn her and reminsice endlessly, but eventually they'd have to give up and move on with their lives- who could idolize a dead girl forever? My parents would be devastated, I was sure, but with Lola gone, they'd slowly refocus all their love, admiration, and attention for her on me. As their only daughter, they'd love me all that much more. Finally I would have all I'd been denied- if Lola died.7

But how could she die? She was young, healthy- not about to fall over dead of heart failure or anything. Someone would have to kil her- and that would have to be me.8

The idea of killing someone, a teenager, my own sister, did not scare me or alarm me. I felt no trepidation whatsover. IF anything, I felt excitement, anticipation of someone awaiting something fun. I knew then I was going to do it, i would murder my sister.9

But how? I couldn't let myself be caught; it would have to happen exactly right.10

A smile spreading across my face, I began to plan out the details of what should occur...