The Favorite Cousin
“Darci, meet your cousin, Lacey.”
I glared at Lacey. She is everything I’m not. Tall, thin, and blonde. Probably has a million boyfriends, too. I’ve been the only girl cousin in the family for years, and now I had to share with a perfect little blonde.
“I can’t believe I’m finally getting to meet everyone. And isn’t it cool, Darci, that we share the same birthday.”
“Yea, real cool.” I really didn’t care about Lacey.
“What’s that?” She pointed to my bright pink Ipod.
“You’ve never seen an Ipod? Where are you from, outer space? Or don’t your parents let you listen to music?” The hurt look on her face didn’t stop me. I walked off to enjoy my music.
A few minutes later, Hank joined me. “Hey, freckles, whatcha listening to?”
Hank was always my favorite cousin, even though he is fifteen years older than me. He didn’t seem to mind my red hair. “Just some cool music.”
“Did you see Lacey?”
“How could I miss her? She’s perfect.” Embarrassingly, I wiped some tears away.
“Are you crying, red? Why?”
“Because Lacey is what I want to be. Beautiful and perfect. Look at me, short, red hair, braces. I look like Pippi Longstocking.”
“Well,” Hank laughed, “if you had striped stockings, you could be her twin. Seriously, there’s something unique about Lacey. She’s different, somehow.”
“She grew up in some little country near Russia. She’s never even left, until now. That’s really different and strange.”
“My parents are thrilled to have her live with us. It must be difficult, losing your family like that.”
“What are you talking about? She’s just visiting, isn’t she?”
“Didn’t your parents tell you?” Hank jumped up and reached for my hand. “Come on, let’s go ask them.”
Hank said, “didn’t you tell Darci about Lacey?” Mom and dad looked like deer caught in the headlights.
“No,” replied dad slowly. “We thought it best to wait a while.”
“Well, now is a good time to tell me. I’m not a child, you know. I just turned thirteen last week.”
Mom nodded. “Of course, you’re right. Darci, your cousin was recently orphaned.”
“That’s not really a big deal. Everyone knows that you adopted me when I was five after my parents were killed in a car crash.”
Dad cleared his throat. “Darci, her parents and brothers were brutally murdered while she watched.”
Mom and dad looked at each other again. “Because they proclaimed to believe in Jesus Christ. Where she comes from, it’s illegal to be a Christian and to speak such a thing is the cause for immediate death.”
I was stunned. “But she’s so happy . … and perfect. How were they murdered?”
“With a sword.” Dad spoke the words so quietly I could hardly hear him.
I felt my heart melt within me as I realized how rude I had been. I knew what I needed to do.
“Lacey, I’m so sorry about your family. My parents just told me. Want to listen to my Ipod?”
“Are you just being nice to me because your parents told you to? I don’t need condescending niceness.” Lacey walked away slowly. Suddenly, she didn’t seem so perfect anymore.
“Lacey, wait. I was jealous of you because you’re so perfect – blonde, tall, and all those things I’m not. Besides, I’ve been the only girl cousin for as long as I can remember. I always got special attention. And then suddenly, you appeared. None of us even knew you existed. I felt like I had to share my limelight and I didn’t like it. And then I heard about your family and knew that I was being selfish and stupid. The Bible tells us to love at all times, and I totally failed. Will you forgive me?”
Lacey’s smile was so real. “Of course I’ll forgive you. You’re my favorite girl cousin!”
Fifteen years have passed, and Lacey and I are still sharing things. This time, it’s a hospital room as we both became new mothers on the same day.
“Do you think this legacy will continue?” I ask Lacey.
Amid laughter, she nodded. “Birthday sharing cousins. Let’s hope so."
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