Nina pulled Darren off the bed.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He struggled in her grip, but she clamped a hand across his mouth and hauled him into the closet and closed the door. There was only enough room for them to sit cross legged on the floor, knees touching. Nina switched on the flashlight. The light caught the dark scowl on her brother’s face. “I’m telling Mom.”
“No, you’re not. We are not going to fight today.”
“Yeah. Says who?” Darren continued to glare at her. “You’re not the boss of me.”
Nina rolled her eyes and fished the agenda out of her pocket. She handed it over.
Darren looked at the paper. “What is this?”
“You need me to read it to you?”
“I can read.” Darren’s lip mouthed the words as he read silently. When he got to the bottom he shook his head. “You’ve got to be kidding.”
“Not a bit.”
“The get-along club?” His lip curled. “Stupid.”
“No it isn’t.” Nina pulled the page from his hand and looked at her plans. “Do you even know what today is?”
“Mom’s birthday, Doofus.”
“Call me Doofus again and I’m telling.”
Nina shook her head again. “How much money you got?”
“Why?” Suspicion colored his gaze.
“Because we’re both broke. We don’t have anything for Mom’s birthday.”
“So we’re going to pretend to like each other and do all this stuff for her?” He pointed at the page.
“Exactly. Isn’t Mom always wishing we’d stop fighting for a day? This is what she really wants.” She read the list again. It was ambitious, but Mom would be so happy. “First, you have to give your pledge.”
“Like the Pledge of Allegiance?”
“Yes. Now raise your right hand and say, ‘I, Darren, solemnly swear on pain of death to do my part in the get-along club and not fight with Nina all day.”
Darren rolled his eyes, but said the words. Nina swore the pledge as well. “As leader of the club, I think…”
“Who made you leader?”
“It was my idea.”
“It’s my closet.” Darren’s nostrils flared.
“I’m the oldest, so stop trying to start a fight.” Nina stood up and opened the door. “It’s time to make Mom breakfast. Get dressed and I’ll see you in the kitchen.”
Nina got right to work. She made toast and mixed up the orange juice. Mom was going to be so pleased. Twenty minutes later, breakfast was ready but Darren still hadn’t shown up in the kitchen. She found him sitting outside their parents’ room.
“Where have you been? I had to do all the work myself.”
“I was the lookout.” Darren shrugged. “I heard Mom talking a few moments ago.” He took the tray from her hands and knocked on the door. “Happy Birthday, Mom!” He said, placing the tray on the bed. “We made you breakfast.”
“That was very sweet of you Darren.” Mom tucked a stray hair behind his ear. “Thank you.”
Nina pasted on a fake smile from the door. She tried not to let her brother’s behavior get to her, but she always hated when he took credit for her work.
She pushed aside the feeling, but it only grew as the day progressed. Darren shirked the work, but showed up right at the end to take credit. It happened when they were washing dishes and then again after they tidied up the house. Nina was tired of the game. It was taking all her will power not to pound the little punk into the ground.
“I thought you were going to wash the car?”
“I thought you were going to help.”
He just smirked as he plopped down on the front step and pulled a comic book out of his back pocket. Nina stalked away. She turned on the hose. Anger burned in her as she watched her brother lounge on the steps. It wasn’t fair. He’d promised to help, but he left her to do the work and then took the credit.
The hose bucked as she depressed the handle and sent a stream of water soaking Darren to the skin. His outraged screams were so satisfying.
Forget the get-along club. A sparkling car would be the perfect gift for Mom’s birthday. Maybe she’d even wax it.
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