Tracy tried to hide her competitive streak, but it was hard having a sister like Rebecca, who seemed to excel without trying, without meaning to, who seemed unable to resist the urge to be self-sacrificing and right and good. In the morning Tracy could be seen trotting behind Rebecca, eagerly trying to anticipate her older sister’s movements, more emulous than purely generous, more an extension of her ambivalent older-sibling-worship than an expression of her own desire to engender goodness in the world.




We wandered along the second floor hall of the shopping mall, and Drick paused now and then to gaze in the store windows. He peered at the mannequins and marveled at the props, clicking his tongue against the side of his mouth to register his pleasure.

I wanted to get into Claire’s before there was a run of girls at the earring kiosk, but Drick lagged behind me and no amount of coaxing would convince him that we needed to hurry. I sighed and waited, pretending to be annoyed. My little brother is an engineering mastermind, a true Mitty: he won’t give you the time of day unless there’s some sort of structure between you and him, some kind of material distraction that will contain his architectural fantasies long enough for him to hold a meaningful conversation with another human being.

I waited as he admired the handiwork in the Hollister window. Without looking at me, he shook his head. “Their clothes are sub-par but you’ve got to hand it to them,” Drick said. “They know how to build something that lasts.”