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Cheat the World

Once when you were seven and I was four we were dropped off at The Dollar Store to pick a toy each to play with in our cramped hotel room in Singapore. You were older, had been around longer and knew that there were rules set in place for us to follow so you lingered by the shelves and gently fingered the collectibles until you placated your juvenile heart and chose a sports car that fit in your seven-year-old palm. I was younger, braver, sly and clever – I ran to the back of the store where they created an expensive Barbie shrine taller than our bedroom ceilings back home. I grabbed a box and ran back to you, excited to share my very own loophole, exclaiming “we can just switch price tags!” and you stared at me in horror because I was bold and reckless and cunning; all the things that you taught me to be but were disciplined and pushed into forgetting. That day you shook your head and taught me right from wrong and so we set off our own way, deciding our own rules for the game. You stayed on the path others molded for you, with barbed wires of rules and thorns of expectations and shackles of conformity as you tried your best to please, while I braced myself early and continued to cheat the world but years down the line, almost twenty, I look over to my shoulder only to find that I had been walking all alone. For the world broke you down because you were kind and fair and loving and gentle and knew right from wrong, but I was always scurrying between tall legs only to knock them down so I could claim victory in a world that rarely plays clean, but cosmic justice pulled a fast one on both of us and stole you away from me so now I am finding ways to cheat the guilt of losing the better one of us who actually deserved to be.

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