Myron was two minutes younger than Murray. Though born of the same parents on the same day in the same place, the two brothers were more different than if they had been born in different countries and eras and families.
Murray was fair, Myron was dark. Murray was artistic, Myron mathematical. Murray was tanned and athletic, Murray pale and laser-focused.
The only thing they had in common, besides their competitive spirits, was their mutual dislike of each other.
When they were little, all their parents had to do to get one to eat his vegetables was to claim the other had done it and received a chocolate cake as a reward. The first brother would then not only eat his plate of broccoli, but the entire pot, just to show that he could…and then be too full to eat the chocolate cake after.
When they were a little older, anytime Murray won a trophy in some sport or other, Myron had to best him by winning science fair competitions or other academic awards. When Myron picked up the guitar, Murray picked up the saxophone. When Murray broke the school record for track and field, Myron broke the school record for most chess games played simultaneously.
And then Angela moved in across the street.
“Dude! Have you seen the new neighbors?” Murray said one day, bursting into Myron’s room. “They have a daughter, and she’s cute!”
Myron snorted as he prepped a slide for his microscope. “What is she, like two?”
“Of course not, dumb-butt,” Murray said. “She’s our age! But hands off. I saw her first, she’s mine.”
“Ha,” Myron said as Murray ran out. “We’ll see about that.”
Myron peeked out of his window and watched his brother’s tawny head bob across the street. He could almost hear his twin’s voice as he knocked on the door.
“Hi! My name is Murray. I live across the street. If you need any help, please feel free to ask me!”
Myron got his own look at the neighbor’s “cute” daughter the next day, when the doorbell rang.
“Myron, can you get it for me?” Mother called from the kitchen. “My hands are wet.”
“Hi!” the girl said as she held a large cake in her hands. “Mom sent me over to give this to you guys. And also to thank Murray for his help with moving in yesterday. Are you his brother?”
“I’m his twin,” Myron said.
“Really? You don’t look alike.”
“We’re fraternal twins,” Myron said with a blinding smile. “I’m Myron. And you are?”
“Angela,” the girl said with a smile as angelic as her name. She was pretty good-looking, Myron had to admit. With her bright blue eyes and dark blond hair, Myron was sure she would be a hit at school.
“Angela. That’s a pretty necklace you’re wearing. You like crystals?”
“Of course,” Angela said.
“I’m growing some in my room. Wanna see?”
Angela’s eyes were wide with wonder. “You grow crystals?”
“Yup. Come on.”
“Who is it?” Mother called from the kitchen.
“It’s our new neighbor!” Myron hollered back. “Dropping off a cake. I’m going to show her my crystals.”
Murray was not pleased when he saw Angela follow Myron into his room. But he pasted on a smile when Angela greeted him.
“Oh, hello Murray!” Angela said. “Your brother is showing me the crystals he is growing. It sounds so neat!”
“Oh, yeah,” Murray said. “They’re kind of interesting. But hey listen, there’s a football game next Friday. Are you going?”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. I haven’t started going to school yet.”
“Morrow High, right? I go there too. When school starts tomorrow, I can show you around.”
“That sounds great!” Angela said, giving Murray a blinding smile.
“Excuse me,” Myron said. “Do you still want to see the crystals?”
It soon became common knowledge that the competitive Mead twins were at it again, only this time, the object of competition was the pretty new girl, Angela.
When Murray invited Angela to his track meet, Myron invited her to his viola recital. When Myron brought Angela a home-made crystal necklace, Murray bought her matching earrings.
“Listen. Don’t even think about asking Angela to the homecoming dance,” Murray said to Myron one day. “I’m taking her.”
“Oh really?” Myron replied. “Did you already ask her? Did she already say yes?”
“Not yet, but I’m going to. And she’s going to be so touched that she’ll say yes right away.”
“Ha.” Myron said. “We’ll see about that.”
The next day, as Angela walked toward the entrance of the school, she was greeted by a small group of marching band students playing at the top of their lungs while a posse of track runners leaned out of the schools’s second story windows, dangling a sign:
ANGELA, WILL YOU GO TO HOMECOMING WITH ME? – MURRAY MEAD
Angela clapped a hand over her mouth as her girl friends giggled beside her. “What are you going to say, Angie?”
Before she could say anything however, there was a Boom! and a clump of grass flew several feet into the air as fireworks went off on the school lawn. All of the students jumped as Myron parachuted down and got on one knee before Angela, clutching a bouquet of flowers.
“Angela, will you go to homecoming with me?”
Angela removed her hand from her mouth, but before she could say one word, a blurry figure charged across the lawn and knocked Myron sideways.
“What…do…you…think…you…are…doing?!” Murray screeched as he pummeled his brother.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Myron hollered back, returning punch for punch.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!” the assembled students cheered as the brothers rolled on the ground, punching and kicking each other.
“Murray and Myron Mead! Come to my office right now!” At the sound of Principal Lee’s commanding voice, everyone scattered.
“Fireworks, parachuting, hijacking the school band, and fighting on school property! I have had it up to here with you two!” Principal Lee scolded as the twins sat in front of him, each holding an ice pack to his face.
“Sorry, Mr. Lee,” the brothers muttered.
“You are both hereby suspended for the next three days.” Mr. Lee said. “And you have to do community service to fix the school lawn.”
He crossed his arms and sighed. “It’s not like I haven’t been young myself, but really. This is too much! Do you forget you two are brothers? And twins, at that! If I had a twin brother, I’d spend my time fighting to protect him, not fighting him. You–”
“Excuse me, Mr. Lee, urgent phone call for you on line 2.” The principal’s secretary said as she knocked on the open door.
“Hmph. I haven’t finished talking to the two of you. Wait for me outside for a minute. I need to take this call.”
As Myron and Murray followed the secretary outside to sit in the waiting area chairs, Principal Lee turned and picked up the phone. “Hello?”
The two brothers sat in silence, each leaning as far away as possible from the other.
Just then, voices projected from the floor below.
“Angela! I am sooo jealous of you. I’ve always wanted to be fought over by two handsome guys!”
“Yeah, Angela, what’s it like?”
“Which twin do you like better? Myron or Murray?”
“Yeah, which one are you going to go to homecoming with?”
There was a pause. And then Angela’s reply: “Actually…I don’t care much for either of them.”
Myron and Murray involuntarily looked at each other as the girls squealed below.
“What are you saying, Angela? But they both like you so much! You don’t like either one of them? At all?” The girls continuned to hound.
Angela laughed. “No. They’re both kind of childish, I think. I want someone more…I don’t know. Mature. Smart. Athletic. Something.”
“But the Mead twins are really popular! I thought you liked them.”
“Murray is really athletic, and Myron is smart!”
“But not as athletic as Tommy Davis or as smart as Dean Wykowski,” Angela countered.
“But… you seemed to be encouraging them.”
Myron and Murray could almost hear the shrug in Angela’s voice. “Well, so what if I did? It was kind of interesting to encourage them. I wanted to see how far they’d go to win me over. Why not?”
“Oh-ho. Angela, you’re a tricky one.” One of the girls snickered.
Another one said: “Hey guys, class is about to start. Let’s talk more at lunch, okay?”
“Okay!” There was a smattering of footsteps, and the voices disappeared.
Upstairs, outside of the principal’s office, Murray turned to Myron. “You are so much smarter than Dean Wykowski.”
“Yeah, and you beat Tommy Davis in track and field and baseball. I don’t know what that crazy girl is talking about, comparing you to him.”
“Thanks,” Murray said. He thought for a moment, then said, “What do you like about Angela Fisher anyway?”
“I don’t know. What do you like about her?”
“I don’t like her. She was cute at first, but after some time, she seemed kind of shallow.”
Myron gaped at him. “Then why did you ask her to homecoming?”
“Because I thought you were going to.”
“I was, but only because I thought you were going to.”
The brothers stared at each other for a moment, then burst out laughing.
“Well, I’m glad we got that cleared up,” Myron said after they’d calmed down. “I’d rather ask Sally to homecoming.”
“Sally–your mousy lab partner?”
“Just kidding, just kidding. She seems pretty nice.”
“How about you? Who do you really want to ask?”
“The motormouth from the girls’ track team?”
“I’m kidding too. She’s a good fit for you. A lot friendlier than Angela.”
“Thanks. I think Sally’s a lot smarter than Angela too. Good for you.” Murray stuck out his hand. “Brothers?”
Myron looked at his twin, then grabbed his hand. “Brothers,” he said.
“Well, well, well,” The brothers looked up to see Principal Lee standing over them. “I’m glad to see the two of you have smoothed things over. But that does not mean the punishment is over. First thing after class ends today, I expect to see you both out there fixing the lawn!”
“Yes Mr. Lee,” the boys chorused.