I knew the feeling. Yes. I knew too well. The feeling of defeat, disappointment and deep and utter guilt. Was it my fault? Was it me who predestined the way I would be born into this world? No! For if it had been up to me, I would not be in this state. My parents. Ah, my parents. They never ridiculed my stature or lack of it thereof. They never belittled my lack of wit and intelligence and they never pushed me aside because I did not inherit the genetic perfection that ran in my family. no. they never did any of those, I was family and they loved me. But alas, one thing they did do, and do they did quite often was the ever present comparison that was drawn between me and the beautiful Clara Ann.
Clara Leticia Ann. Clara Ann. Ever poised, always graceful, generous with that winning smile, and never cranky. Head held high, words carefully measured, pouring out from those full, upturned lips like water, she was the apple of everyone’s eye. She was my sister, Clara Ann. I wonder if she ever loved me or if it was more of pity that drove her to do the things she did for me. “oh, Betsie darling, you left your books at home. I’ll bring them to you” or “oh Darling! You look absolutely stunning in pink” when I knew for a fact that I looked like a giant jellybean while she would have carried it off perfectly. Yes, come to think of it, she must have done it all out of hatred laced with pity. After all, what had she to lose?
I knew my parents were upset that I turned out this way. It was a nasty card that fate and Catherine Destiny had dealt us. Something that was completely out of the control of both my parents. It was ironically funny,though, that out of all the people in this world, I had to be one of those that turned out like this. Short limbs, slanting eyes, thinning hair at the young age of 18. I knew my parents looked at each other helplessly whenever I knocked a glass of water over for the hundredth time in a same day. I knew my parents stayed up until the wee hours of the morning poring over what would become of me should anything happen to me once they were gone or incapable of taking care of me.
My mother was in the third trimester of her pregnancy. I was the child she was bearing. It was around twilight when the phone rang and someone broke the news to her about the freak accident that Clara Ann and my dad had gotten into. At that point in time, the condition and stability of both my sister and my father were undisclosed and this drove my mother into an uncontrollable state of panic and prenatal frenzy. She passed out immediately and fell face first onto the ground with a loud, unhindered crash. Dealing a direct blow to her uterus. Dealing a direct blow to me.
The doctors said she was too far along into the pregnancy to terminate it. Apparently I was bleeding as a fetus. Profusely at that. Apparently, they thought I was going to be a still born baby. Coincidentally, they considered the vacuum suction technique to remove me when my mother had completed the full term. Ironically, I was born-alive. Strangely enough, I was not grossly retarded or deformed beyond human imagination. Sadly, I was born autistic. And that was the way I stayed for the rest of my miserable life.
In stark contrast to my Clara Ann, I was never a high achiever in school and I definitely wasn’t a hit with the boys either. Nobody called for me at home. The phone would be ringing off the hook but it would always be for Clara Ann. Ah, Clara Ann. How can there be so much of beauty and perfection packaged into a single being? Was it a trick the Gods were playing on me?
I remember sitting at the lavish graduation ceremony of Clara Ann’s when she graduated from the Harvard Law School. Smiling brightly and waving at everyone she knew in the crowd. Dressed immaculately in a beige silk gown with her dark brown hair hanging loosely down her back. She was the epitome of perfection that day. Her certificate in her hands proved her academic capacity of achieving a first-class honors degree from Harvard. She was my parents pride. I, on the other hand, seemed to be their mistake.
Still there was the nagging voice in my head. Whispering, pestering, persuading. Telling me that maybe, just maybe Clara Ann was doing all of what she did to make me jealous. To further point out the fact that she was all that I ever wished I could be, but never will be. The more Clara Ann achieved, the greater the deep void of differences grew, putting Clara Ann up on a pedestal and leaving me somewhere in the dust beneath her feet.
“Betsie, that’s where you belong anyway. I’m sure we both realize the only way you will ever triumph over Clara Ann,” said the whispering voice in my head, ever so malignantly. A smile began tugging at my lips. A small one at first, growing wider and more joyous. It hurt me somewhere inside to know that I was going to be happy. Soon, I told myself, soon, I will win. This was the first time I had smiled in three years. And then I began to laugh, and it was the first time I had laughed because I was happy.
Clara Ann climbed up the corporate ladder rather quickly having first started at a prestigious law firm as a litigation clerk, she quickly progressed as she continually gained favor from her bosses and superiors, just as she had been doing all her life. By the Christmas of her third year in the working world, she had successfully become one of the joint owners of one of the largest law firms in New York and her future seemed to roll out for miles ahead of her. She was indeed living the life.
Clara Ann’s personal life was also seeing happy times. She was courted by one of the owners of the law firm she worked at, James. He was almost as perfect as Clara Ann. And almost as rich. They got married the following June. I was also sitting in the front row at Clara Ann’s wedding where she was undoubtedly the most gorgeous, blushing bride in white anybody had ever laid eyes on. She was definitely the prettiest to me. I loved Clara Ann. But I had to do what I had to do in order to show myself and the world that I could indeed match up to Clara Ann.
She moved into a posh penthouse somewhere in the heart of New York with her husband, James. It was one of the higher end apartments available and everybody thought it was such an achievement for Clara Ann to be able to afford such a luxurious property at such a young age. I could feel the gap between us grow. The differences were too apparent and it was pushing me away. I could feel the time drawing nearer. I had to carefully start plotting my plan.
With every tick of the hands of the clock that I could not read, I knew in my slowly rotting heart that my moment of victory was nearing and my destiny would be fulfilled. The time when I would no longer be overshadowed by Clara Ann in all her glory and perfection. No longer, would I be undermined just because of circumstances that were beyond my control. When my time comes, I will be the victor.
Clara Ann painstakingly and lovingly furnished a beautiful double room just for me to come over and stay with her every now and again when James was away on business trips. Having spent quite some time there, it became even easier to piece my master plan together as well as to tie up any loose ends that would probably make my plan fail. Very soon, I had it almost completely foolproof. I knew exactly what I was going to do and exactly how I was going to do it.
Again, it was Christmas time. Sadly, Clara Ann couldn’t spend it with her beloved James as he was yet again away on another one of his “business” trips. So, Clara Ann did the noble thing and invited me over for dinner and to stay the night. She prepared a lovely roasted turkey with amazing stuffings and dressings together with cold potato salad accompanied by the finest red wine available. I could tell, this would be the best Christmas Clara Ann and I would ever share. Ever.
It was getting late, so I bade Clara Ann a cheerful goodnight and we both went our separate ways at the landing of the stairs. I entered my room and lay on my bed with a satisfied smile on my face. I stared at the ceiling replaying in my head every moment in which Clara Ann had outshone me throughout my young life. My smile spread even wider as I head the annoying cuckoo clock in the living room tell me it was just about midnight.
I put on the finest black dress I owned, and a pair of leather gloves to complete the look. I waddled over to the mirror and picked up my untouched make-up set and tried my best to imitate what Clara Ann did with all those brushes, powders and pastes. When I was satisfied with the way my face looked, I reached over for my final accessory. I unwrapped the velvet cloth that was covering it and held it by the handle in my hand. The moonlight that shone through the slightly parted curtains fell on the blade of my knife and cast off this ghostly gleam onto my face. I smiled yet again and then turned to walk to the door.
I opened the door ever so quietly and peaked out into the darkened hallway. Clara Ann’s bedroom was directly opposite mine. I glanced at the clock on the wall and the minute hand had just touched the roman numerals of twelve, perfectly aligned with the hour hand. My senses were heightened. I could feel the cuckoo in the clock waiting to pop out and ruin my plan. I hurried over to her bedroom and slowly opened the door.
I saw Clara Ann peacefully sleeping. Her dark hair billowed around her like a cape on the white sheets and pillow cases. Her white nightgown gave her the look of the most serene angel heaven would ever know. Dear, sweet, beautiful Clara Ann. I’m only doing this because I have to. I had my knife carefully concealed in the folds of my fancy dinner dress. I wanted to look my best for this occasion. The only time in my life when I will ever gain recognition for doing something on my own.
I began stroking Clara Ann’s hair while softly humming an old lullaby that our mother used to sing to us before we went to bed when we were only children. I saw Clara Ann move towards me and eventually rested her head on my lap while I continued with my gently motions. I pushed Clara Ann’s hair away from her neck to see a dainty platinum necklace with a pendant of a key hanging from in, set with pretty diamonds. The skin on her neck was so smooth and flawless.
I placed a pillow on Clara Ann’s face gently. I took the knife out from where I had been hiding it and positioned it above Clara Ann’s windpipe. I brought it down to her neck ever so gently and then began gliding the gleaming blade across her angelic throat. It was so smooth and easy. I could hear Clara Ann’s breathing become ragged as she began to let soft moans of pain out. I glided the blade over her throat a second time, this time deeper, this time for revenge. I could hear her scream in agony. I did not remove the knife from where I had it positioned on her neck. I heard her screams grow softer. I heard them become groans. I heard them become whimpers. And then, I saw her shudder and it was over.
I smiled slowly. Unsure of how I was supposed to feel at this moment in time. I had just killed my only sister. Yes. I was happy. I had indeed finally won! I began laughing loudly. Now I knew I had to finish the job, just like Clara Ann would never leave anything hanging. I laughed again because I knew I had done this all on my own. And now, no one would ever compare me to Clara Ann again.
I raised the knife high above my chest and with a mighty plunge, brought it down, straight through my heart, puncturing veins, arteries and ventricles. I could feel the blood escaping from all sides in my heart. I found it hard to breathe, I began gasping. So this was what it feels like to die. At least I was dying with a smile on my face. At least I was dying in a way I had crafted by myself. Unlike the regular pathetic bunch who just die without knowing it. They are weak. And always will be
I smiled as the last breathe of life left me. May your soul rest in peace, Clara Ann, wherever you may be. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.