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A Competence

October 27, 2022 01:44AM
Blurb: A modern S&S one-shot - Young and naïve Marianne Dashwood had a very inflated idea of what "a competence" should be, but after she becomes Marianne Brandon, she realizes all of her wishes were actually fulfilled. Has she realized the distinction between "competence" and "wealth"?

“Do you remember,” said Chris, “what you deemed your minimum standard of living to be when you were in high school?”

My cheeks felt so hot, I was pretty sure I was blushing for not the right reasons. “Please,” I begged, “can you not torture me by reminding me of my foolishness? And besides, how did you know? Elinor is so dead if she’s the one who told you.”

“It was Ed, actually,” revealed Chris with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “We’ve lived like brothers for so long, he tells me a ton of things. And he remembered that bit word for word because of its entertainment value.”

I remembered every single word of it too, even though it was practically an epoch ago. Just one more in the list of things I could never live down! “I said it would be great to go to an Ivy League college, drive a Jeep Cherokee, and go shopping at Neiman Marcus once a year. But please know this was a former version of me that’s dead, buried and gone. All I’ve wanted since age 18 was not to be a burden on Mom, and not to be a burden on you, now or ever.”

“What if I told you this is exactly what you’ve got now?” His smile was getting bigger and bigger. This couldn’t be good; I liked seeing how I’d brought happiness back into his life again, but not enough for him to make a regular hobby out of funning me.

“You’re kidding,” I said, “or at least, I hope so. Heaven forbid! I ought to kill myself before I leech off all my family, which now includes you, with all my wasteful expenses.”

“Just hear me out,” Chris continued mercilessly. “Number one: you didn’t go to an Ivy, but you went to Berklee, which costs just as much as an Ivy, on a partial tuition scholarship. That checks one off, I would think, without quite as much expense as you thought.”

“Still too much,” I said, “but music is the only thing I know how to do. I wouldn’t have survived regular college. Thank God I had aid, or else it wouldn’t have been possible.”

“Your folks would’ve still tried to swing something,” he pointed out. “There’s the money from your old house in California that your mom got when your dad split up with her.”

“Mom’s earning power is practically zero. At least, that’s what Elinor keeps saying. That money’s sacred because it’ll be what Mom needs to live on when she retires, and pay any hospital bills she needs when she grows old. And even with aid, I was still the one who took the biggest chunk out of it, with Ellie and Maggie going to college in-state.”

“You’re the one who has the most unique talent. So, it was money well spent.” Sometimes, Chris flattered me a little too much; I always felt a little uncomfortable that he seemed to worship me, even though I got into at least twice as much trouble as my sisters.

“That’s only true until Captain Margaret, gamer extraordinaire, graduates magna cum laude with her computer science degree and invents the next blockbuster game.” This wasn’t even an ironic statement, for I truly believed Margaret, unlike me, had the intelligence to back up her bravado; she would bring even her most extravagant dreams to reality, whereas mine were just silly flights of fancy everybody made fun of. “I suppose I won’t have to care about what I spent when she’ll bankroll our entire family.”

“Well, let’s move on to number two, then,” Chris continued. “That’s the easy one. You wanted a Jeep Cherokee, I have a Subaru Forester. Potato, potahto.”

OK, this was starting to get below the belt. I’d only wanted a Jeep Cherokee back then because John Willoughby was the person driving it. Chris could go drive a ten-year-old Chevy Spark and it wouldn’t make any difference to me.

“I think any car with you in it would be my dream car,” I said finally. “Do you believe me?”

“You could make me believe you,” he challenged. And so, I did.

But even if I convinced him that my dream man was more important than my dream car, I didn’t manage to make him forget the third thing. What was it about high school cheerleader Marianne Dashwood that was so entertaining, nobody could forget about her even when I tried to replace her with sensible Marianne Brandon?

“Last one. Yes, finally, you’re off the hook after one more. That wasn’t so bad,” quipped Chris. “At least you didn’t say you wanted to shop at Neiman Marcus once a week.”

“Elinor doesn’t think we should shop at Neiman Marcus, ever,” I remarked, hoping I didn’t sound as plaintive as I thought. “And driving an hour each way to get there and back is not a great idea with gas prices being what they are.”

“I kind of miss my Marianne,” said Chris. “You sound more and more like Elinor every day. And we never went to Neiman Marcus in the past seven years, but we visited all the places in Singapore they filmed Crazy Rich Asians at. That’s enough to tide us over for a few more years, even at the rate of one place a year.”

“We did indeed,” I agreed. “And I believe I have not just a competence, but the utmost wealth.”


A Competence

KaleeOctober 27, 2022 01:44AM

Re: A Competence

NN SOctober 27, 2022 11:54AM

Re: A Competence

Lucy J.October 27, 2022 05:45AM



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