A Lot of Sky

“Man, oh man, what a lot of sky!” Melly sang out as she woke in the morning, springing to her feet and racing to the window.

“What a lot of dirt, you mean,” her twin sister Mal grumbled as she rolled out of bed.

Melly laughed. “Oh, don’t be such a sourpuss, Mal,” she said as she raced to the bathroom. “It’s a new day, a new life. Can’t wait to get started!”

At breakfast, Melly thanked their mother for the delicious pancakes while Mal complained about the lumps. At school, Melly ran to her friends and gave them all a hello-hug while Mal lingered by the lockers, bemoaning her lack of friends. During math class, Melly and Mal got the highest scores on the last test.

“Congratulations, Melina and Mallory,” their teacher said, handing back their test papers.

“Yes!” Melly said, punching the air.

Mal looked at her paper and then turned it upside down with a frown. She had missed a stupid question. Otherwise she would be the top of the class alone, not sharing it with her annoyingly optimistic twin.

During lunch, Melly chomped on her messy tuna sandwich and chattered with her friends. “Come sit with us, Mal!” she said, waving to her twin, as she always did.

But Mal saw the looks Melly’s friends shot at each other, the looks which said “Oh no, not Melly’s awful twin!” and she moved away. “No thanks,” she said, finding a quiet spot to sit alone as she unwrapped her on BLT on toasted foccaccia sandwich that she’d made herself.

During Phys Ed, Melly was the first picked to be on a volleyball team. Mal was the last. Melly dived after nearly every ball and laughed when she missed, which wasn’t often. Mal hung back and watched as the other students congratulated her twin for winning the most points, as she often did.

After school, Melly raced to do her homework and then chattered happily through dinner. Their parents laughed at her antics before turning to Mal. “And how was your day, dear?” Mom said.

Mal hung her head. “Terrible,” she said. “I got less than I should have on a math test, and no one sat with me at lunch, and I was picked last for volleyball.”

Melly blinked at her. “But we tied for highest score and I invited you to sit with me and my friends. And you didn’t try to hit any balls during volleyball–if you tried harder, maybe they would pick you sooner…”

“But your friends hate me!” Mal burst out. “And no one thinks I’m good at math or volleyball anyway. Everyone loves Melly but no one loves Mal!” She threw down her napkin and stomped to her room.

A second later, there was a gentle knock on her door.

“Go away, Mom,” Mal said.

“I’m not Mom.” Melly opened the door and sat down beside her twin. She put an arm around Mal’s shoulders.

“You know, Mal,” Melly said. “You’re better than me in a lot of things. There are more reasons to like you than there are to like me.”

“Like what?” Mal said, wiping tears from her eyes.

“Well, you’re smarter than me. You’re taller too, which is good for volleyball. You’re artistic and I’m not, and you make the best sandwiches. Better than my messy tuna ones. If you wanted to, you could make more friends than me.”

“Then why do you have more friends than me?” Mal said.

“There’s just one thing,” Melly said. “One thing I’m better at than you.”

“What is that?” Mal said.

Melly smiled and hopped off the bed. “Instead of telling you, why don’t you imitate what I do tomorrow?”

“What?” Mal said.

“I’m serious. Do exactly what I do.”

When Mal looked skeptical, Melly nudged her. “C’mon, just give it a try, what have you got to lose?”

Mal sighed. “Fine.”

The next morning, Melly jumped up in the morning and ran to the window. “Man, oh man, what a lot of sky!” she exclaimed happily. Then she looked over at her twin, still lying in bed. “C’mon, Mal, you have to do what I do.”

Mal staggered to her feet and joined her twin at the window. “Man, oh man, what a lot of sky,” she said in a robot voice.

Melly laughed. “Not like that, silly. Like this!” She repeated her words again, pumping her fist for emphasis.

Mal sighed, and tried to imitate her twin.

At breakfast, Melly thanked her mother for the delicious oatmeal, and then elbowed Mal until she echoed her twin. “You’re welcome, Melly and Mal,” Mom said, smiling as she kissed them both.

At school, when Melly ran to greet her friends, she dragged Mal along. “Smile!” she ordered as she neared the kids at the lockers. Mal tried. To her surprise, one of the girls smiled back and another gave her a hug too.

During class when Mrs. Astor passed out a new project, Mal observed Melly as she beamed. “A new research project! Cool, I can’t wait to hit the library.” Mal didn’t quite say that, but she did not sigh and grumble under her breath as she usually did.

At lunch, Melly dragged Mal to sit with her. “My sister makes the best sandwiches,” Melly said. “Anyone wannna try?”

And so Mal found herself sharing her tomato-parmesan-and-balsamic vinegar on toasted rye.

“This is delicious!” Christa said, grinning at Mal. “Why don’t you sit with us more often?”

During volleyball, Mal was picked last as usual, but this time, she tried to dive for the ball as often as she saw Melly do it. “Go Mal!” Melly cheered, and soon the other kids were picking up her encouragement. Mal smiled.

At dinner that night, Mal and Melly were sparring to be the ones to talk.

“So then I dragged Mal to sit with us…”

“…and they loved my sandwich! And then at volleyball, our team won!”

“…because Mal saved the ball at the last section.”

Then they chorused together: “It was the best day ever!”

The twins’ parents looked at each other and smiled. “That’s wonderful, dears,” Mom said. And Dad echoed: “Great job, girls.”

Mal looked over at Melly. “And it was all because of Melly,” she said.

“Oh?” Mom lifted an eyebrow. “How so?”

“She taught me the magic words to say in the morning.”

“What’s that?” Dad asked.

Mal grinned: “Man, oh, man, what a lot of sky!”