Second-in-Line or Love?

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/number-2-two-digit-background-2038282/“Your brain is too polite, Martha,” my sister tells me over the phone.

“WHAT?” I’m annoyed with Janet anyway, just out of principle, but this is just too much. “What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

Janet chuckles, raising my ire even further. She’s older than me by three years and always acts like it. She’s the wiser one, the better one, the patronizing one.

“I read it in one of the journals I get  – you know, Brain & Life?” Brain & Life, magazineshe prompts.

I don’t respond. She orders me a gift subscription to the magazine every year, and when it arrives each month, I give it to my neighbor. In my sister’s profession as a family therapist, she’s always trying to “fix me” in one way or the other.

Janet ignores my non-response and continues. Of course. “Some of it has to do with birth order. I’m the first, so I take charge and go bully on.”

“Well, yes, that fits,” I reply with not a little disgruntlement.

“And the second child in line tends to be more submissive, docile, and just go with the flow,” she continues

I happen to know this is a blatant lie. But it’s obvious that Janet is trying (and succeeding) to push my buttons. So I’m going to push back.

“Well, we second-in-lines are certainly people-pleasers,” I say. “And peacemakers. That’s why we’re usually the favored child, as well as the one more successful with friendships and relationships. So, Sis, get it out. What am I too polite about?” Pixabay, https://pixabay.com/vectors/counselling-advice-therapist-3630323/

Janet takes in a breath, and I can imagine her sitting in her cushy office chair, large windows letting in airy light, waiting for her next client to push the button from the waiting room to pay Janet for her “bon mots.” Lucky me, I get it for free.

“You know that Randy is not the right guy for you. You’re not in love with him, yet you allow the relationship to go on and on. But you’re too polite to break up with him.”

Silence over the phone, although I’m sure she can hear my seething breath. Her audacity! Randy is the best man I’ve ever dated, and I’ve dated enough to make her extremely jealous over the 34 years we’ve known each other. Randy is a project manager for a construction firm (not in the high academic clouds where Janet looks for her lovers). He’s gorgeously molded into 175 pounds of hunk, with ginger hair that falls in his eyes when he’s tired, scars on his fingers, and one big huge heart.

Suddenly, I get it. Janet is afraid I’ll marry before she does. How …. Jane Austen!  https://www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/jane-austen/

So I play along with her. “What do you think I should do?” I ask her as if I care.

“It’s time to upgrade, Martha,” Janet suggests.

I gasp and reply, “I strongly disagree, Sis. But at least I know you won’t be disappointed when I inform you that Randy and I are eloping next Saturday, and no visitors are allowed.”

https://www.pngwing.com/en/free-png-pjusv/download

Prompt – 1st line: Your brain is too polite. Last  line: No visitors allowed. CREATIVE writing! 🙂

160 thoughts on “Second-in-Line or Love?

  1. Wonderfully woven, Pam. The relationship between sisters is already hard enough without one of them being a jealous shrink! Go Martha! Does Randy have a brother? Asking for a friend…

    Liked by 9 people

      • 🙏 thank you so much! I have listen/read about 300 books a year since 1996, and although I am not a writer, I can definitely spot writing that has all the great ingredients and creativity. Your post was a delight to read and I look forward to more of your work!

        Liked by 3 people

        • Wow! I am envious of you reading 300 books a year! I thought I was good at a little over 100/year. Reading is A blessing that I can’t imagine doing without. Therefore, your compliments on my writing and creativity mean a lot to me. Thank you!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Fun story. My younger sister by 5 years thinks she’s the boss and knows everything. Janet is being a sister, not a therapist. Good for Martha to scare the dickens out of her. Finished your book.. LOVED every word of it.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Well, first, I’m the older sibling also, but I’ve never been a “Janet” – probably because my younger sibling by 18 months is a brother. But… I always call him my “older brother.” 🙂 Second. I’m thrilled you enjoyed Flashes of Life. Thank you thank you. If you ever care to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I’d appreciate it (we authors need reviews).https://amzn.to/2UE1l5r

      Liked by 2 people

      • The review is in the works as already planned. Summer chores leave me so exhausted that I can barely think at the end of the day. I have another one to write also. 🙂 Maybe tonight I’ll have a quiet moment. Trying to get my house ready to sell. Lots of work.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Oh. YIKES, no pressure at all Marlene. I cringe when I ask for help, be it promotion or review, and feel weird for doing so. Take your time. What’s the most meaningful is that you enjoyed my book! I didn’t know you’re selling your home. ;-0 I better go back to your latest post and see if I missed that. xo

          Liked by 2 people

          • I didn’t mention selling on my blog. We are still vacillating back and forth. It’s too much work for me. It also need a massive amount of expensive repairs.
            As for the review, I won’t review a book I don’t like. The old adage “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing” is something I live by. I LOVED your book and trying to find my words to express it clearly. The Bells Palsy 10 years ago took so many words from me which is why and when I started writing. It helps me find some of the missing words. It’s often a slow process. I want to write a good one. I have a feeling many people don’t know that a review is appreciated so asking for one is quite proper.

            Liked by 2 people

    • Haha. Thanks for the smile, Amy, you of many published books. Prompts keep me going, that’s for sure. The full prompt for this one was to go to your e-mails and randomly pick two subject lines. Then, the first subject line (in my case “your brain is too polite”) is the first line of your story and the second e-mail subject line (in my case “No Visitors Allowed”) is the last line of your story. I had NO idea where this was going. I don’t even have a sister, but Janet and Martha forced their way in….

      Liked by 1 person

    • What a cute way of describing your sister. (My mother was often called a “pistol” also, as well as “feisty.”) My younger (and only) brother was sweet and did whatever I asked him to do when we were young. Now, he’s just a caring kind brother. I always wanted a sister, but now…not so sure! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Love your response, Balroop. I think Janet needs to go back to “therapy school.” Hooray to strong second borns! (that said, I was a strong first born, but my younger brother grew up loving me anyway). 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This piece flowed along like a babbling brook – love it, Pam!

    I’m first in birth order and my first-married sister was third. She would be the first to tell you that she “. . . dodged a bullet but backed into a cannon.” My second-born sister and I were the butt of jokes, “You two are in the bake-oven now, tee-hee. What are you going to do about it?” I was envious of my sister’s first-married position, but the wait was worth it – coming up on 54 years of bliss, mostly. Unbelievable, since I was a child bride. (Now, losing my marbles!!)

    Incidentally, Brain & Life must be a first cousin to Psychology Today, neither of which I subscribe to but could probably benefit from. I’ll surely share this gem.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, what a quotation! “… dodged a bullet but backed into a cannon.” That is fabulous. May I steal it sometime?? This would be so much fun to have a character say. 😲🤭 Your sister must have a wonderful sense of humor. Hopefully a wonderful marriage too…? Isn’t it horrible how sisters were given pressure to marry one before the other? I’m hoping it’s much better now. But as the conversation between Martha and Janet show. I guess that stigma is still around. I agree with you–waiting for the right one is the best way to go.
      I actually have been getting the magazine Brain and Life for a couple of years. Free subscription and it’s very good articles. I first started receiving it when my mom was alive with dementia and I learned a lot from some of the wise stories.

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  4. Pingback: Second-in-Line or Love? – CURIOSIDADES NA INTERNET

  5. My initial thought, Pam, is I would love to see where this is going. I almost wonder whether Martha is elaborating or making up the elopement just to get Janet’s hackles up. The ‘birth order’ theories often come up in our family. Some generalizing and some truth behind it. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • I am first sibling and my brother was not far behind me and we do follow the stereotype in some ways. My daughter has three children and they all follow the generalizations, which is a little scary! I kind of figure it’s like myths – there’s always some truth behind them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great story, Pam. I loved it. I really enjoy birth order conversations in that so many assumptions are made with the generalities. I’m the oldest in my family, and I do think I fit the “birth order” stereotypes just a little more than I’d like to admit. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Smiling. Same with me. I was a bit of a take charge older sister to my 18 months younger brother. Fortunately that faded away when we both became adults! Or at least I hope he’d say that. 🥴

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  7. Great ending, Pam! Who wants unsolicited advice anyway, especially from a sibling?

    I wonder if these stereotypes of the order of children have any merit. I am the youngest of four boys, and my entire life, my mom used to say, “Well, they say the youngest one is the most spoiled.” I’ve seen instances where that was true, but I think it varies from child to child. My parents were fair with all of us, but they most certainly overcompensated not to spoil me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh dear. That’s too bad your mom heard that saying and overcompensated by NOT spoiling you in the least! That said both my children have three children and their third child is spoiled, no doubt about it! But as you say I do not give any unsolicited advice about that. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

    • These made-up characters seem so real to me, Janis. Probably because I’ve watched my friends who do have sisters. I’ve always wished I have one but I realize that my friends take the place of a sister very well. As does my sister-in-law, with no competition! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh … You’re naughty. Whoops, I mean, Martha is naughty.

    I have three daughters, so I’m often thinking about their birth order. They don’t fit the stereotypes very well.

    Liked by 4 people

    • It’s so wonderful as a writer to be more naughty in fiction than I am in real life. 😉 Wow- three daughters is a handful but a wonderful one. One of my best friends also has three daughters and each of them is so different from the other!

      Liked by 1 person

    • In many ways my three daughters are alike. Their personalities are different, though. The likenesses were more obvious when they were young. Now the differences are showing up more. It’s fun to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s very difficult to not give unsolicited advice within the family. The good news is that our friends often ask for advice, unlike our siblings! In this case though, I agree that Janet is just a know it all!!! 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Second-in-Line or Love? – correct vibestv

    • Personalities in birth order are noted and generalized, and most see the truth in a lot of it! That said, those of us who were first born (like me) hope that we grew out of any bullying that we may have done when younger!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t have a sister, but watching my friends who do (and friends’ daughters) I’ve gotten a good sense of how nasty/competitive sisters can be. But I also know of sisters who are so close – that’s what I hope for Martha and Janet in their future. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Your brain is too polite, they say. I wonder if they actually know me at all. Of course, I’m not going to correct them by letting them into my brain. It’s a private place. No visitors allowed. 😁

    Liked by 3 people

  11. This was such an excellent story. I like the ending! You wrap everything up in a very good way. Sadly, in real life, many people do let other people affect their personal relationships. They listen to lies like, “It’s time to upgrade Martha.” The person who knows what is best for Martha and who ultimately makes Martha happy, is Martha. Too many people forget that logic and try to interfere in someone else’s life. Your story conveys a powerful and important message; every individual should listen to their own heart, and not what someone else tells them is right for them.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Love it, Pam! Although…I’m a second-in-line child, and I don’t fit that description. I read somewhere recently that the middle child (me) often feels ripped off because she didn’t have her parents to herself like the eldest and the youngest did. Little sister was the last to leave the nest. Might be something to that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think we always need to be careful of “generalities,” but then again, it’s good to be mindful of what that second child, and particularly the “one in the middle,” might be feeling. Me? I’m a first-in-line and I don’t follow the description. Oh, wait, my younger brother might disagree. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        • I go to so many different sources for writing prompts, including lots of “creative writing” books that I’ve saved over the years (about 25!) and websites like Writer’s Digest’s “A year of writing prompts – 365,” and this really cool “Writer’s Block” (that literally looks like a small thick block with “786 ideas (pages) to jump-start your imagination.” And sometimes, I just wing it and come up with my own. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  13. As always you have me leaning into the screen. It happens when I visit your blog. As if my getting closer to the words will bring the ending sooner. Not that I want it to end, I just always know there will be a twist!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha. Isn’t it nice to imagine being in charge, though? I must admit, growing up as the big sister to my “little” brother, I was definitely in charge. Until he suddenly became taller than me! 🙂

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  14. Great story. Sure kept me engaged in reading it to the end. I’m the youngest of three sisters, and was for the longest time the bossy one. Somehow, as adults, we all changed on a more equal footing, almost as if it doesn’t matter who was born first. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have seen it go both ways. I have a friend with two sisters and they still squabble in their 60s the way they did when they were in their first decade! 🥴 So much better to be “adults” by the time sisters reach adulthood.

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