I took Wendy’s hand in mine as we climbed the front steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And for the first time during this whole adventure I asked myself, why are we doing this?
Because we’re in love, stupid, I told myself. We just want time alone so that we can be ourselves and be together before we move on with the tour.
But there was more to it than that, I knew it. Was I doing it for the attention? The recognition? Everyone would be interested in the fact that I’d run off with Wendy. I’d be noticed. Not that I wasn’t already noticed. But I was never noticed for just being me. Media always clumped me with the other lads.
I’d always had a problem with recognition. I spent my entire life as the little brother. Greg was five years old when I was born, and he had already made his stamp on the world. After only half a decade on the Earth, Greg had become a football star. He has just started kindergarten, and he was extremely well liked. Also, the class clown.
My mother still tells me that I came home from the hospital on a cloudy Friday morning. According to her story, Greg was sitting on the front stoop, with a football in his hands. When my Mum told him I wouldn’t be able to play with him for a while, he didn’t take it well.
Everywhere Greg went, he left a legacy. On my first day of kindergarten, I handed my teacher my registration card. She read through all my stats, her brow furrowed. After nearly a full minute she asked me, “You’re Greg’s little brother, aren’t you?”
It happened year after year. Teachers expected me to be good at football, like Greg. Other kids who knew about Greg wanted me to be funny like him. All the adults expected a sparkling personality. I tried my hardest to live up to their expectations. Maybe I did. It’s hard to tell. I was good enough at football. I played goalie. I even made it into the newspaper once, when my team won the local tournament. There was a big picture of me, with the caption “Younger brother of local football legend Greg Horan on the field”.
For most of my life, I walked in Greg’s shadow. He was always the best at everything. I was always “almost as good as Greg,” as an art teacher once told me.
It didn’t help that I had the same interests as Greg. What I really needed was something I could stand out in, something that didn’t have a prerequisite set by Greg.
And boy, did I find it.
But it still wasn’t enough. I was a band member now, but that was all. When people thought of the band, they thought of the band as a whole, not me individually. I wasn’t ever gossip-worthy, or the most sought-after. I didn’t get the most solos. I was still stuck in the shadows.
Maybe that’s why I needed this. Maybe I needed to get out of the shadows.
But what a horrible person that would make me, getting all of this planning together, enlisting Paul’s help, taking advantage of Wendy, just so I could have my time in the spotlight.
I disgusted myself.
But I needed to stop myself and think; what if I was doing this for love? Was I even in love? I didn’t remember really ever being in love before. Lust, yes. Love…I wasn’t so sure. I was sure that there was a difference. I was pretty sure I was in love.
Because when I looked at Wendy, she wasn’t just a pretty girl. She wasn’t just a girlfriend. She was more than that. Wendy was beautiful; she shone. I loved everything she did. I loved her personality, even her bad jokes. Her voice might have been the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard. I could listen to her talk for hours. She just got me too. We clicked. And whenever I was around Wendy, I was happy. Really, truly happy. Maybe this was love.
As we climbed the steps, I studied Wendy’s face. He looked so excited, like a little schoolgirl. The way she bit her lip to keep her from smiling, the way those little wisps of her fell around her face, and the way her cheeks flushed when she was cold.
Maybe it was love.
“Excited?” I whispered in her ear.
“Only cuz you’re here,” she replied, kissing my cheek. Her lips made my skin tingle.
It was love. I felt myself coming out of the shadow.
character credits to @curlyfriesandmagic ♥