Big Brother’s Chess Set

It’s hard being a little brother, especially when you’re me. My big brother is really smart. He does math bowl, and aces every test, and on Saturdays he goes to the park and wins wins wins at chess. And my older sister, she’s so pretty. All of the girls like to hang out with her, and my mom always says she’s going to get whatever she wants.

But then there’s me. I’m nothing special, nobody tells me that I’m the smartest or the prettiest or the anything-est. My mom tells me not to think that way, but it’s hard not to when your older siblings are so good at everything. I wish I was at least good at sports, so my parents would come watch me win games.

This Saturday, just like always, we’re headed to the park so we can watch my brother play chess. It can be pretty boring, but my brother is really proud of how much he wins, so I like to go anyway. I have a book with me for if I get bored, but I try to pay attention.

My brother hasn’t lost a game in a long time. It’s a little weird because nobody cheers. We all have to be really quiet while he plays. And when he wins, everyone claps really quietly. Basically, everything is quiet.

Today though, the quiet feels different. It’s tense. I can’t really tell what is happening, but my mom is standing with her hand over mouth and my brother is scowling at the board, the biggest frown you’ve ever seen. Even my sister is paying attention for once. And then it happens: my brother loses the game. I watch as his face gets really red. He gets up and crosses his arms. When my mom tries to put her arm around him, he shrugs her off and heads for the tree he and I like to sit under when it gets really hot in summer. I can see tears in his eyes, but he’s trying really hard not to cry.

My dad tells my mom to leave him alone, but I get up after a minute and follow him to the tree. I sit next to him and wait, looking at the ground like he is, except I’m not crying.

“I should have seen what he was going to do. I never lose! I can’t believe I was so stupid.” My brother sniffs angrily and rubs his eyes with his hand so they’re even more red.

I let him cry for a minute, and then I pat him on the shoulder.

“You’re really smart, though. You’re going to beat him next time. This is just a chance for you to learn something and get even smarter!”

My brother doesn’t say anything, so then I add, “plus, he had a big booger hanging out of his nose the whole time.”

My brother starts to laugh, then so do I. Pretty soon we’re both cracking up. My mom comes over and tells us it’s time to go home. As we walk to the car, my dad smiles and puts his hand on my shoulder.

“That’s what’s so special about you,” he says to me. “You always know how to make someone smile.”

I guess being the little brother isn’t so bad after all.

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