“Hiya, babe! I’m Emily!” gushed a full-figured brunette, her bubble gum smacking loudly between her pearly white teeth. “It’s sooooo fabulous to finally meet you.” She turned to my brother and, with serpentine precision, tightened her manicured fingers around his arm. Her voice was piercing as she squealed, “Trevor has told me so much about his darling little sister!” She successfully reached a pitch that is only audible to canines.
I think it is important to note that I generally dislike emotional generalizations like “love at first sight” and “immediate dislike.” However, I now understand the place cliché holds in awkward first meetings. From minute one, I did not like her. I did not like her one bit. Her fluttering eyelashes made me dizzy. The flighty and flirtatious giggle exploding out of her heavily glossed lips made me nauseous. Her excessively strong, ten-dollar perfume made me want to puke. As decided by my dramatic ten year-old brain, being in her presence was more than I could bear. I could not stand her. Death would be more pleasurable than her unfortunate company.
I was doodling in my sixth grade history class one day, and instead of coloring my map of Mesopotamia, I drew a picture for Trevor. It featured an oversized crimson heart and the words “I LOVE MY BROTHER!” smeared across it in black Mr. Sketch. When I gave Trevor my artistic masterpiece after school, he praised it and immediately hung it on his ceiling. That way, he explained with a smile, he could look at it as he fell asleep.
Unfortunately, the attention-hungry Emily was not as touched by my gesture. In fact, she was infuriated when she saw my banner hanging above Trevor’s bed. She couldn’t stand that his last conscious thought before drifting to sleep revolved around the comforting admiration of his sister, and not his girlfriend. My brother did love Emily, but not as much as he loved me. Why, Emily must have thought, would he want to spend time with his stupid… SISTER… She probably spat the horrid word and stomped it into the pavement under her knee-high pleather boots. Why would he rather be with her than me? Trevor and I have always had a fantastic relationship, despite the fact that he always calls “age-has-priority” when I want to sit in the front seat. Emily hated my sixth-grade guts for this reason, and she wanted to strip him from me. Thus began the war of the women in Trevor’s life.
I can almost imagine Emily sneaking into his room with a manila folder under her arm and a roll of scotch tape gripped in her fierce claws, her teeth bared in frightful determination. Trevor’s bed squeaks as she clambers onto its frame. I can see her back straighten and her precariously balanced form stretch toward the ceiling. From the manila folder, she extracts her revenge. Then, as quietly as she had entered our house, she leaves.
“SHE DID WHAT?” I cried. My eyes widened in disbelief. My mouth went dry.
“Come look for yourself if you don’t believe me,” Trevor chuckled. I could not understand how he found this situation amusing. I did not find it funny at all, not one bit. As I stumbled down the hall to Trevor’s bedroom, I heard traces of Emily’s shrill laughter reverberating off the walls, and my heart beat quickened. I reached Trevor’s door and curled the fingers of my right hand around the brass knob. With a slight turn, the door creaked open. I slipped through the crack. I was in.
And there it was.
Savagely taped on top—not next to, but ON TOP—of where my drawing should have been was an enlarged photograph of Emily’s face. Her two front teeth were the size of my thumbs, such was the magnitude of the poster. Her lips were curled in a successful sneer, the impact of which was enhanced by her sparkling eyes. They were cooing he’s mine, Megan. He is mine. I will take him, and you will never see him again… Static video clips of real-life events quickly joined these imagined words. She was sobbing on our carpet because Trevor wouldn’t let her paint his fingernails an obnoxious flamingo pink. She was sticking out her bottom lip in a disgusting pout, yet again. The next moment, she was bubbly and flitting around our house like Glinda the Good Witch. She was lovely and endearing; who wouldn’t adore her? And then, she was pulling me aside and hissing at me, telling me to stay away from my brother. These memories came bursting into my head like fireworks until I could not endure them any longer. I let out a frustrated growl that built into a window-breaking scream. “She is absolutely insane!” I roared. “How on earth can you be dating her?” Trevor flashed that smile again, and he chuckled softly, his eyes cast to the floor. “She’s not half bad, Meg. I like her…”
It was impossible for me to like her. She was the Voldemort to my Harry Potter. She had tried to kill me, I survived, and now I could only wait for a final showdown. My family backed me up by jokingly calling her “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” However, to me, this female specimen was nothing to joke about. She was an evil wizard when it came to devious behavior; I was just a battle-worn student in tattered robes, limping blindly through my counter-attack. I was in way over my head. However, I knew that I had to get my brother back somehow. It was just a matter of logistics. How could I get Trevor to see the demon I saw? How could I free my brother of the flattery he had imbibed so readily?
It turned out that a stick of butter and a crummy transmission would solve all of my problems. One night, my family, and the parasitic Emily, decided it might be fun to watch a movie. Trevor volunteered himself to make the popcorn, and Emily offered to stand in the kitchen and watch him work. My parents gave me “the nod,” which meant I would be resuming my appointed role as chaperone to the sick lovebirds, a calling that I hated above all else. I inconspicuously peered over the counter, memorizing their every move. With every pass her fingers made through his hair, I cringed. Her giggles were masked by the sound of dancing popcorn kernels, but they were still audible to my poor ears. Then, salvation quickly came.
Trevor pulled away from Emily and stalked into the family room, pretending not to see me crouched between the counter barstools. He explained to my parents that we were out of butter. This was not a tragedy, they replied, for Trevor could easily drive to a church member’s house several blocks away and borrow some. Trevor and Emily grabbed the keys to Emily’s white Volvo and were almost out the door when Trevor yelled back, “Wait, which house is theirs again?” I will be grateful for this question forever, for it was then that my parents replied, “For goodness’ sake, take your sister with you. She knows where it is.”
I hopped in the backseat of Emily’s manual transmission coupe and slid into the middle of the bench. Emily sat in the passenger’s seat, tapping her fingernails restlessly on the center console, waiting for Trevor to place the keys into the ignition and start the car.
We were speeding through my neighborhood, and something happened. Trevor did something wrong. At the time, I did not know what it was. I am not positive that I understand even now, with my limited knowledge of stick shift. However, the car stalled. It convulsed a few times and then came to a grateful stop. Emily hit Trevor’s arm playfully and howled his name. Her lips formed a strong pout.
“Why did you do that, baby?” came her question. “You’re going to wear out my poor transmission.” She painfully drew out the “n” in a grating whine. Trevor threw back a comment about how he didn’t mean to and then softened with a quick, “I’m sorry.”
“No,” Emily stated firmly. “My car doesn’t like that. It doesn’t like that at all. It is very upset right now, Trevor John.” From my place in the vehicle, I had a perfect seat for the histrionic freak show that was taking place.
“Kiss the dashboard,” Emily demanded. Trevor wrinkled his nose and shot her a quizzical glance. What on earth? I wondered. The two Botts children sat in stunned silence. Then, the words came again, this time with more force. “Kiss. The. Dashboard.”
“No, Emily,” Trevor replied, “that’s dumb. I’m not going to kiss your dashboard.” I crossed my legs, leaned back in my seat, and smiled at the ceiling.
Emily’s face turned to marble for a brief second, and then she exploded into fury. Her voice became frantic. She cried out, “TREVOR! My car is very upset right now. It would help GREATLY if you would just KISS THE…!”
“Get out, Megan,” Trevor interrupted. “We’re walking home.” I un-clicked my seatbelt and slinked out the door, missing the last words that Trevor said to Emily. She was shrieking, “Kiss it! Trevor, KISS IT!” as she removed herself from the car and stormed around the hood. With a wild cry, she launched herself at Trevor and began pounding his chest with her fists like a crazed Barbary ape. Lifting her head skyward, she screamed with space-expansive force, sending the terrified moon clambering behind the distant mountains. Jumping into the driver’s seat, she drove off, leaving us in a cloud of dust and exhaust.
“Well, she’s bipolar… isn’t she?” Trevor mumbled, as he turned back in the direction of our house. His Etnies slid along the sidewalk in a dejected shuffle.
“More like octi-polar,” I quipped. His lips spread into a soft smile.
He one-upped me with, “More like mentally unstable,” and his face broke out into a huge grin. I hadn’t seen that same carefree grin for quite some time.
He pulled me safely under his protective arm and slowed to match my gait.
“You know what?” I giggled. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”