This was the kind of thing Rex dreaded whenever he walked into school. His fourth grade teacher was the same teacher that Emma had two years ago. That was the way it had been since kindergarten but it had never been a problem before today. The possibility of such an event had only been a nagging fear and he had prayed it would stay that way.
But the 61% on the paper in front of him and the echoing words of the middle-aged woman pulled him into every younger sibling's nightmare.
"I was expecting more from you. Your sister was so bright."
How could anyone expect anything from Emma Stewart's brother? Sometimes, that's all Rex was, Emma's little brother who would never ever be as great as she was.
Like so many other younger siblings, Rex was living with a legacy over his head. And a D- on his math test had brought that reality back into focus.
"How did you do?" The blond girl whispered from beside him, the traces of a grin on her face. Of course Amy would do great. She always had a knack for floating through things and still succeeding without trying. Not to mention, Amy was the oldest in her family. Setting her own expectations, dooming her two younger sisters to be like Rex, stuck in someone else's footsteps.
"Not too bad," He answered vaguely, turning the paper over before pulling his folder out and shoving the test inside. He tried to flash his friend a smile but failed and only produced a grimace.
"Well I got another A," She stated triumphantly, waving the paper in Rex's face and pulling it away before he could read anything. The girl started blabbering on about something pointless as Rex turned back towards the chalkboard, his head hanging low.
What was he going to tell his parents? What could he tell his parents? How does a person tell their mom and dad that they had failed to be as fantastic as their older sister, the one person they strove to be like? Emma was good at everything. She could easily ace all of her classes, she wasn't shy or awkward like he was, and she could play any sport while he was still struggling to do a simple push-up.
Insignificant. That's how Rex was feeling right now. He was unimportant compared to the perfectness of Emma. The thought consumed him through the rest of the day, distracting him from History, his favorite subject, and causing his best friend, Kevin, to ignore him during lunch and recess.
Rex dreaded the thought of going home. Thankfully that was not going to happen for at least another two hours, unless their father got off of his monitor duty early, but that didn't stop him from worrying. Instead he sat in the rec room of the Metro Tower; no one could even hear him breathe he was so quiet.
Emma immediately noticed her younger brother's preoccupied mind. Rex's eyes were carefully avoiding hers. She knew something was wrong.
"What's wrong Rex?" She asked, idly kicking a crumpled up ball of paper to the other side of the room.
Rex looked up and bit his lip; tears started to well up in his wide, emerald eyes. Emma stared at him, trying to think of something that could have happened to cause this reaction. "Rex," She hesitantly said, taking a step towards him. He could tell she was genuinely concerned as she continued, "What's wrong?"
Knowing that his sister was waiting for an explanation, and from experience he also knew that she wouldn't rest until she got one, Rex leaned over and grabbed one of the straps of his backpack. He pulled the dreaded test out of his stuffed folder and silently handed it over to Emma as he wiped his eyes. The eleven-year-old girl read the top of the paper and her eyes slowly widened. Rex waited for her to start making fun of him. For her to remind him of how stupid he was in comparison to her but she never did.
Instead Emma's face broke into a bright grin and a small laugh escaped her lips.
"Finally!" She said, still beaming, glancing up at her brother. His eye brows had knitted together in a quizzical and almost angry way, upset at his sister's reaction. Was she really laughing at him?
"I mean," She said, explaining herself quickly. "This is the first time you've ever done anything wrong. I was starting to think you were some kind of robot or something."
"But you never get bad grades," Rex said in a small voice, racking his brain to think of a time that his sister had ever failed at anything. He came up with nothing. "So how could you ever worry about screwing up?"
"Are you kidding me? I was always worrying about screwing up because you never have. Just wait a minute." Emma grabbed her black backpack and plopped it on top of her knees, ripping the zipper open and digging through a pile of crumbled papers at the bottom. She pulled out three sheets and hastily flattened them on the floor before handing them to Rex. Her little brother read the grades with wide, bewildered eyes.
"How did you manage to hide these from Mom and Dad?" He asked, smiling slightly as he looked up at Emma, whose eyes had taken on a look of pride at her own sneakiness.
"It takes a lot of practice. I probably have about four more like that in here," The sixth grader said as she eyed her bag. "It helps that Dad is too afraid of the mess in there to actually look through it but here," She crumbled Rex's test and shoved it deep into his backpack before zippering it shut. "At school tomorrow, slip it into the trash and clean out your own lunch when we get home. They'll never notice a thing." She held out the red and gold bag and he gratefully took it as he nodded. Emma then moved to sit in front of the TV. Rex was still smiling as he moved next to her on the sofa, forgetting his depression from earlier and not even minding the extra chore of cleaning his lunchbox.
And for just a minute, just one small moment, Rex completely forgot he was spending his life in the shadows left by his sister.
A/N: I decided to do another Rex thing. Now I'm an only child so hopefully I got the whole sibling stuff right. Oh how I loved being an only child while in school. Though I was in the shadow of my mother, who could do nothing wrong when it came to school. So I guess it's similar to this situation.