Writers (in order): Alyssa Atienza, Mariarosa Cerritos, RANadia, Z. Bransi, Francesca Bohan, Molly M., Xinyi Chi, Alyssa Tang*. Editor: Irene Tsen.

*wrote more than once

Being your mother’s second-favorite child was a headache, a nuisance, and seemingly so, a rather peculiar inconvenience. You always heard that parents don’t play favorites, but I could guarantee you: my mother did. Not that I blamed her—in all honesty, my sister, Sarah, was just an angel. Any parent’s dream child. She was pretty, had the perfect GPA, never talked back, and did exactly what she was told to do. I’m not going to go into much detail but… that wasn’t exactly me. That’s why, when Sarah and I both asked to go to the amusement park on a whimsical Friday evening, you can probably guess who was denied, and you better bet they weren’t too happy about it.

“Mom! You can’t do this. It’s not fair,” I protested, maybe a little too loudly. I was just too annoyed to care.

“You better go finish your homework and then come downstairs to help prepare dinner.” She walked off, not even bothering to elaborate on why she wasn’t granting me permission. What bothered me more was Sarah’s ignorance. Once Mom gave her approval, she returned to the usual trance she was always in, with the least interest in advocating for me. Sarah may have been an angel to others, but only I knew how selfish she truly was.

Fuming, I climbed two stairs at a time toward my room, hoping to get away from them as fast as I could. Reaching out for the door knob and yanking it open harshly, I went into the only little piece of happiness I had access to in this world: my room. Before I could slam the door shut, I heard a soft click from the front door, indicating the departure of my angel sister. The image fueled the fire in me, and I slammed the door with every bit of energy I had.

Sarah and I had our rooms upstairs, while our parent’s room was downstairs beside the kitchen. When she got permission to go to the amusement park all by herself, naturally she was supposed to take a jacket with her to fight off the chilly fall breeze. How could she possibly leave without it, and how could Mom even allow that? It didn’t make sense because Sarah was sensitive to the cold, so she would definitely have taken the jacket with her.

Was she already prepared and had her jacket because she knew Mom wouldn’t stop her? How could she be like this? How could I not dislike her so much? Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm my nerves. It sometimes worked, but not most of the time.

After several failed attempts, I lay on my bed, facing the white ceiling, from which cascaded a dark shadow from the sunset.

The wind softly pushed my curtains inward. The cold air brushed against my face, making my nose itch. Had I left the window open? Curious.

I slunk over to the window, and my hands drifted over the edge of the pane. I froze. My previous misery was almost forgotten. Standing just on the edge of the sidewalk was Sarah: wearing a pretty green dress and flats that made my feet ache just thinking about it. A dark, shiny vehicle (because it looked nothing like those regular cars you see on the road; rather, it was long and thin and had no door handles) pulled up to our house.

When I got out of my trance, I raced out of my room, thoughts of mystery and opportunity dashing through my mind. “Mom, Sarah forgot her jacket, can I bring it to her?”

Mom looked up, startled. She put down the book she was reading and raised an eyebrow at me. It felt as if she was analyzing me, but I stayed strong. Sarah made sure her every decision was intentional, and though I didn’t quite know what her reasoning was behind leaving her treasured jacket at home, I just had a gut feeling that I couldn’t ignore.

After a long pause and a hefty sigh, my mother responded. “Fine, but don’t even think for a second that you’re going too. You have to study; that C isn’t going to raise itself if you keep idling away.” Short, simple, but it was just enough for me to rush out of the door before she changed her mind.

The driveway still slick from yesterday’s rain, the cool breeze tickling my arms and raising the hairs on end. With her jacket in my hand, I desperately tried to reach Sarah just as the car door slammed shut. The wheels began to turn and the driveway only seemed to get longer as the sleek black car pulled farther and farther away from my reach. I skidded to a stop and watched as Sarah slipped away around the bend off to whatever paradise I could only ever dream of. Just as I was about to accept a lonesome evening in my room, I noticed something lying on the pavement out of the corner of my eye. It was a gold key that seemed to twinkle as if the sun had cast all of its energy on it.

I knew what it was the instant I saw it. Sarah was good at everything, but especially at being secretive. Every time I went into her room, I saw it. The mysterious yet alluring bedside drawer, firmly held together by a golden lock. It yearned for my name and manipulated my curiosity in mystical ways. Still, it made me smile. Little Miss Perfect was not so perfect after all—I would have access to all her secrets now. Everything she hid in that little drawer would be mine.

I walked back to the house, my feet dancing with electricity. I slipped past Mom and giddily rushed into Sarah’s room, past her meticulously arranged desk, her stellar bed, and her uncanny cleanliness. I shoved the key in and turned, the lock clicked open, and I saw her secret stash of… papers in an alien language? No, seriously—I didn’t think any human language looked like that, with all the curves, edges, and shapes. I let the key go and it tumbled down to dent her perfectly polished floor.

“Now what do you think you’re doing in my room, looking at stuff that isn’t yours?”

My body seized in shock, my busy hands fluttering aimlessly above the papers. I forced myself to relax, bringing my shoulders down and schooling my expression into something I hoped looked neutral and unassuming, before turning to face her.

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