My brother had a way of making me so mad, like throwing a rock in the pond and causing rings and rings of ripples. His “pranks” are what my mom called them; I called it plain and simple meanness. Sometimes it made me want to hurt him, in the worst way. I’m talking foot stomping, turning red in the face mad. But what he did the summer before our first year of high school was the pinnacle of his ‘pranks’, and let me tell you, it created ripples throughout our family. Of course, as I remember it, it centered on me, not him. Oh, did I tell you we’re twins?
Mom was quick to make her frustration known. “Bethanne, you can’t walk to school.”
I was determined to keep my promise, the one I made to myself. “I won’t ride in the same car with him.” With my resolve at an all-new level, I headed out the door.
“Bethanne, be reasonable it … it’s a two mile walk.” Mom called from the end of our driveway.
I had only walked a few blocks when my brand new ‘flats’ begin to rub the back of my feet. When the school finally came into view I felt like dancing, if only my feet could have moved enough to do so. The trip to school was like a gentle wind compared to the walk home. At one point I did get smart and remove my shoes.
The comforting smell of fresh baked cookies, and Mom were waiting for me when I eventually made it home. One look at my mom started the tears. “This is so unfair. He was the stupid one, and look at my feet.”
She sat me at the kitchen table and knelt down as she wiped my feet, and placed band-aids on the bleeding blisters. “Lessons can be hard on us. You can’t let your temper get the better of you.”
My eyes opened in shock. “My temper? What about him? He’s made me a laughing stock and a pariah at school.”
“Your father and I gave him a strong lecture.”
“You … you lectured him? That’s it? Look at my feet. This is his fault.” I no longer wanted one of the cookies Mom had set on the table. “Mom, think about it. My friends came for a sleep over: an end-of-summer party. I didn’t invite them over to be humiliated by him.”
She sat in the chair across from me. “That wasn’t his intention, honey he … he didn’t think it through. You’re probably the only one who is still upset. I’m sure your friends have forgotten about it.”
I wanted to smack my head and make sure I had really heard her right. “Forgotten about it? Most of them are barely speaking to me. He embarrassed us. Mom, he placed a tape recorder under my bed and recorded everything we talked about. If that wasn’t bad enough, he played it for his friends.”
Mom poured herself a cup of coffee. “I know, sweetie. It was a terrible thing for him to do.”
“We’ll let me tell you what you don’t know. He played it for Phillip. Phillip heard me telling all my friends how cute he is and how much I like him. I could absolutely die.”
Mom took my hand. “You can’t be ruining your feet. You’re not punishing him, you’re hurting yourself.”
I got up from the table. “I won’t ride in the same car with him if I … I have to crawl to school.” I felt betrayed by feet as I hobbled to my room.
A tap on my door interrupted my concentration on my math. The door opened and there stood Ricky.
“Get out. Now.” I threw my pencil against the wall.
“Not before I tell you how sorry I am.” He sat on my bed.
“Take your sorry with you and leave.” The tears streamed.
“I didn’t listen to the tape before I played it for the other guys. It was really dumb. I was just messing around and I guess I knew it would make you mad, but I didn’t realize it would embarrass you and your friends like it did. The guys and I thought it would be funny.”
Ricky and I made up. My feet healed, and here I am, twenty years later, married to Phillip and have still never heard the end of it. Okay, I confess … they have never heard the end of it.
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