Picture Perfect

Chloe and Jason couldn't be more opposite even if they tried. Her personality which matched her outward appearance could be described in one word: bubbly. Her eyes had a mischievous twinkle and her face always sported a big contagious smile. Jason was more of the quiet type. He was awkwardly tall for his age and quite wiry. Whilst he preferred the back benches of the classroom, he despised Chloe's easiness at making friends and chatting away. He also resented her for making the achievement of an A in any test look so easy and natural when his incessant attempts at studying hard for any subject brought him at the very best B-minuses. Yes, for twins, these two couldn't be less alike. But, how far can they take their sibling rivalry and at what cost?

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2. Chapter 2

“There is no gesture more devastating than the back turning away.”  ― Rachel Simmons

 

Jason watched  his sister stumble away and felt a tug at his heart as she inwardly fell apart. An urge to jump off the table and rush after her to comfort, console and ask for forgiveness only hovered over his mind for a few seconds. Then, he felt the expectant eyes of his newly acquired followers upon him and the need to affirm his non-chalance triumphed. As he spat out another insult after his other half, his heart retreated backwards to a darker place. 'No!', he told himself, 'I won't let her get the bast of me again. She deserves it.' He had coveted this popularity, this acceptance for so long now. Ever since kindergarten, he had been the awkward one, always too tall, too skinny, too shy to be able to properly blend in. Next to his sister, being self-assured and happy-go-lucky seemed even more impossible. She seemed to fit in perfectly wherever she was placed, plump enough for adults to want to constantly pick her up and cuddle her, charming enough to get away with mischief. He, on the other hand, had always been elbows and knees and being hugged often had hurt him more than comforted him and had consequently developed a tendency to push away those who wished to squeeze him. With time, open arms promising a warm embrace stopped coming his direction and, in their place, were introduced the pats on the back, the ruffling of the hair or encouraging words. As he watched Chloe being cajoled, teased and having her cheeks pinched by those very same people, he was filled with resentment, envy, a yearning to have that estranged fuzzy feeling of love and reassurance flow through him again. He started to hate the way she'd flash a cheeky grin at him whilst others fussed over him, it went from being a sign of complicity to a look of contempt. He felt much irritated by how adults and children, alike, seemed to be drawn to her and demand that she pay them attention or acknowledge their presence. At five years of age, he had been too young to understand or make sense of this grudge harbouring in him. With years to come, it would only be stored at the back of his mind, unattended to and push him to act more on impulse every time the same feeling was awaken in him. 

 

Now, six years later, he sat on the teacher's table, feet carelessly swinging back and forth and staring at twenty pairs of eyes looking up to him and accepting him as their leader. It had taken him that long to stop Chloe from getting there before him. He had dedicated the whole of his primary school life to ingratiating himself towards his peers, buttering up his teachers and being the exemplary son to his parents. When Chloe was around or absent, he had to be the best at everything, Jason had even turned eating breakfast into a competition. He had convinced himself that she was not as innocent or as naive as she acted. She, too, was in it for the kill, she, too, wanted to be the better twin. When they were alone, he let out some of that venom eating away at his heart, he'd spite her, break her bit by bit, wrench out that temper within her as much as he could. At most times, he'd try to calculate it in such a way that by the time he'd worked his sister  up enough for her to explode, his parents would be about to step into the room or the teacher would be round the corner or her friends would be about to witness her anger. That had been his winning tactic against her. With time, his scheming had more than paid off, he had gotten his parents so convinced of his innocence on so many occasion that any accusation he brought against Chloe was immediately taken to be true. Accordingly, she would be called down, told off and sent to her room without being given a chance to say anything back. The once well-loved eleven year old was a helpless spectator to what seemed as a never-ending episode of her friends abandoning her one by one. It would start by the averted eyes, the muffled refusals to meet up for lunch, the obvious avoiding in the corridor...Chloe felt like she was swarmed by invisible signs labelling her as an untouchable. And then, suddenly, they all became bold again, they'd stare at her in the white of her eyes and make sure she saw the scorn they bore for her in theirs. She's walk down the corridors, hugging her books, yearning for the intimacy of those lifeless objects. It is strange how inanimate things can bring you endless consolation in times of loneliness. How could she have guessed that Jason had spread rumours to her friends about her? 'She's a hypocrite', he would hiss at them under the shade of the canteen roof, 'she makes fun of you behind your backs. I've heard her on the phone...'  They all thought how this was quite unlike the bubbly, friendly girl they had come to know and love. Then again, those words had come straight from her brother, why would a sibling want to do such harm to another? Surely, Jason was telling the truth, surely he was the one looking out for them. Others recounted how they had seen Chloe snap at Jason for no reason on the basketball ground. They'd say how she had appeared quite spiteful towards him and he had just taken it. One by one, they pondered over it and concluded it might be best not to trust the elder twin so much, after all, she did appear to be multi-faceted.

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