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Jealousy

by Tawsif


“I can’t breathe, Hasnat!”

“Really?”

“No, seriously! I can’t breathe.”

“You are a pathetic drama queen, you know that?”

Hasnat titters. “Maybe. I don’t know. But I feel like my lungs are coming out, man.”

“That doesn’t mean you can’t breathe.”

“Come on! Don’t be so rude. You know what I’m going through here.”

I reach over and wrap my arm around his shoulders. “Alright. There there, don’t start crying now.”

Hasnat jabs me in the ribs.

“Ouch! That hurt.”

“What? I just jabbed you. It’s supposed to hurt.”

I slap his back. He giggles.

“I wish mom and dad were here,” Hasnat says.

“They can’t miss office for this, can they?”

“Yeah. I know. It’s actually better they’re not here.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you know, they would’ve been disappointed.”

“Don’t say that.”

“I’m not like you, Habib. You got ninety-five percent marks. You topped in the whole district. You made them proud.”

“And who says you can’t?”

“I don’t know. I’m not consistent like you. Always getting As. Always a topper.”

“Stop it. Don’t compare yourself with me. Or anyone. You are unique. You are you. Besides, not everyone has to be a topper in class tests, right? This is the final exam. The big game. Anything can happen here.”

“Exactly. Anything can happen.”

“No, I meant… Come on, you’re being a depressed a-hole!”

“Wow. When did you stop saying asshole?”

“I don’t know. Just now, I guess.”

We laugh.

Hasnat takes a deep breath. “How much longer?”

“The clock’s up there, bro. Right in front. You can look yourself.”

“I know. I’m not looking at the clock now.”

“Why not?”

“Because that makes me nervous. Just tell me.”

I smile and look at the clock. “Twelve twenty-two.”

“Gosh! Eight more minutes. That means four hundred and eighty seconds.”

“Man! You’re really nervous. Just chill, okay? Chill!”

“What chill? How am I supposed to chill now?”

“Alright, alright. Forget I said that. We’ll just wait.”

We keep silent for seconds.

Hasnat points at the laptop. “Is that the right website?”

I glare.

“What?”

“Look here.” I point at the leftmost corner of the screen. “See this logo? The map on the red circle? The four stars? That’s the logo of our government.” I point at the top of the screen. “Can you read what this says? Ministry of Education. Intermediate and Secondary Education Boards Banglad—”

“Okay, that’s enough. I got it. This is the right website.”

“You know what? You need to stop thinking so much. Just clear your mind. Forget everything.”

“Okay.”

“Don’t look down. Look at me.”

Hasan does.

“What day is it?”

“Sunday.”

“The date?”

“Twenty-first of May. The result day.”

“No! Don’t go there. I’m trying to… Sorry, it’s my fault I asked you the date. Never mind. Hmm. Tell me…”

“What? Say something.”

“Uh-huh. Got it. What color is my eyes?”

Hasan bursts into laughter.

“What was that about? Hey!”

Hasan leans back, clutching his belly with both hands, guffawing. Then he says, “You took that line from Need for Speed, didn’t you?”

“What? No!”

“Don’t lie to me. I remember that scene. A helicopter was carrying the car. Julia was scared, so Toby told her to look into his eyes and—”

“And then Toby said, “What color are they?” I remember that too. But I wasn’t thinking about the movie, man!”

“You were.”

“I wasn’t.”

“Yes, you were!”

“Oh, God! Alright, you win.”

“Yay!” Hasnat punches the air and goes “Wooooooo!” like a seven-year-old.

“Look at you! Where’s the tension now, huh?”

“Yeah. I feel lighter. Thanks, old brother.”

“You’re most welcome. And what’s with the old brother title? I’m just thirteen months older than you.”

“Okay. How about li’l brother?”

“You cheeky!”

I reach over and try to punch him. He grabs a pillow and blocks my way. I punch into the pillow, again and again. Then we’re sprawled on the bed together, side by side, laughing, tears in our eyes.

“How did you feel when you got it?” Hasan asks.

“Got what?”

“The result. When you saw you got marks like ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven in all the subjects. How was that feeling?”

I look up at the ceiling. “I don’t know. Speechless, I guess. Pride was there. Definitely. I felt like the proudest person on earth. Especially when I looked at mom and dad and saw them so happy, it was satisfying, man!”

“Yeah. I remember all of it. It was a weekend, wasn’t it? Mom and dad didn’t go to work.”

“Yeah, they were home. I was lucky.”

Hasnat sighs.

I turn and look at him. He’s looking to his right now, out the window. Probably at the buildings outside, or nothing; just staring into space.

Sympathy surges through me.

“Listen.”

Hasnat turns.

“I gotta tell you something. This might feel harsh, but it’s important.”

He nods.

“No matter what happens, just know I’m not giving up on you. Nether will mom and dad. We won’t be disappointed. Because we believe in you, okay?”

He nods, vaguely this time.

“Come here.”

We hug, me caressing his hair, him holding on to my back.

When we part, Hasnat says, “I need to pee.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

I stifle a grin. “Go quickly. It’s time, man!”

Hasnat sprints for the toilet. He returns within a minute.

“Okay, it’s time, right?” He looks confident.

“Yeah.”

“Let’s do it.”

I nod.

He types the year, his roll number, his registration number, selects all the images with Statues for Google reCAPTCHA, and looks at me. I nod reassuringly. He takes a deep breath, then clicks Submit.

The new page takes only seconds to appear.

“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Look! Ninety-seven, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-five, ninety-five, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, ninety-nine, ninety-seven. And an average of ninety-six point two percent. I did it! I did it! I DID IT!”

Hasnat jumps into my arms. I tell him, “Congratulations.”

I don’t tell him that, when he was in the bathroom, I had filled all the blanks and submitted the entry, because I knew all his numbers by heart. I don’t tell him his marks made my skin crawl. I don’t tell him the feeling that surged through me then wasn’t sympathy; it was something else.  


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52 Reviews


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Thu Jul 09, 2020 12:42 pm
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HGsomeone wrote a review...



Ahoy hoy,

This short story really stood out to me, mainly through the fact that a large part of it is purely dialogue so it was a little disconcerting at the beginning (this is more my fault for becoming so attached to description so keep that in mind for this review), but as I got used to the style I was definitely captured by what was going on in the story. So, without further ado, here are some general comments:

1. This may be where my description bias is coming in but I couldn’t help feeling like a little more context was needed to establish the setting of the piece, or, at least a little bit earlier on in it. I eventually understood that this is most likely taking place in one of their bedrooms but, though this might just be me, perhaps this could have been established sooner as I couldn’t feeling a bit confused and ungrounded during the beginning.

2. Uhhh... there is no two.
I was tossing up a few things to discuss for the second number on my list, these being: I felt perhaps the ending could’ve done with a slightly more emotional punch or change in mood as the older brother becomes jealous, and that I got a bit confused about which character was talking at some points after a few lines without tags. These, however, probably came from my own reading experience and they aren’t anything major to report as they most likely come from my newness to this writing style. Either way, I love how it’s written so don’t let my babbling about description make you think you should change anything about it.

All in all, this was a great read and I’ll definitely keep a better look out for your name in the future. The construction of characters through purely dialogue is brilliant and I might take a few notes to help my own writing.

I hope you have a nice day!

- H.G




Tawsif says...


Thank you so much for the review. Glad YOU enjoyed it!



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Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:24 pm
Hkumar wrote a review...



Hi Tawsif!

I am here for a quick review for your short story. First of all I didn't see that twist coming. I was reading this like a normal but very relatable conversation that takes place just before the declaration of exam results. All the time while reading this I was getting nostalgic and remembering my own days. I think it's a good sign when you are successfully able to make the readers think or ponder about events related to your story.
The feeling of being compared with your siblings is very common and can be stressful at times. I am the youngest one in the family and though I used to get much higher marks still at the time of my 12th boards results people were a bit sad that I didn't cross 95%+. Although they were happy with what I scored but still you know there's no end point for getting complete satisfaction. So the part where you mentioned about his elder brother being the district topper of his time made me recall all those things in my life.
When the end came and you revealed about that twist I was really surprised. I mean I reread that last para and suddenly it struck me, "Oh! That's why the title is Jealousy."
I guess I was reading the conversation between the brothers so casually that I couldn't see that coming.
Though I have one doubt why you used the word 'sympathy'. I mean suppose even if we there wasn't jealousy, but then why will the elder one feel sympathetic for seeing his record broken by his younger brother. Sympathy is a feeling of pity or compassion shown for another person so why would he feel that way. Sorry if it's just my misunderstanding.

Overall I loved this and liked how relatable this was. You conveyed this in a very simple yet effective way.

Great work!
Keep writing :D




Tawsif says...


Glad to see you could relate to the story.
Well, I wrote sympathy at that part because when the elder brother saw his younger brother all scared and nervous, he felt sympathetic. But in the end, when his brother actually broke his record, he felt jealous.
I hope that helps you understand.



Hkumar says...


oh I get it now. Thanks :)



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Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:30 pm
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

And I am reviewing my third short story of the day. The After Watch does strange things to a person who never reviews short stories.

First Impression: Well now that's a twist right there. Completely unexpected ending. WOW.

Anyway let's get to it,

“They can’t miss office for this, can they?”


That should probably be work. office sounds a bit weird there.

“I don’t know. I’m not consistent like you. Always getting As. Always a topper.”


That should be A's.

We keep silent for a few seconds.


You need to add an expression like the one that I added there or the sentence doesn't make sense.

Hasnat sprints for the toilet. He returns within a minute.


Wait a minute. All of that was entered in one minute. That seems like you'd require the flash to make an appearance to pull that off. I think you'd need at least two to three minutes maybe even five to input all of those things.

“OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Look! Ninety-seven, ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-five, ninety-five, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-seven, ninety-nine, ninety-seven. And an average of ninety-six point two percent. I did it! I did it! I DID IT!”


Well this is a really nerdy and horrible nitpick but I did the maths and the average of those eleven marks is 96.9 not 96.2. Sorry but they don't call me the Human Calculator in school for nothing.

I don’t tell him that, when he was in the bathroom, I had filled all the blanks and submitted the entry, because I knew all his numbers by heart. I don’t tell him his marks made my skin crawl. I don’t tell him the feeling that surged through me then wasn’t sympathy; it was something else.


That is such a surprising and kinda dark twist there at the end.

And that's it.

Overall: Okay this was overall a beautifully written story. The dialogue throughout is very realistic and the relationship between the two brothers is brought out wonderfully. Their different personalities shine through and it just seems like a really awesome relationship at least until the end. That's a slight problem with that there. The ending is very very sudden. There's no foreshadowing whatsoever. I feel a couple of little clues in the way that the elder brother asks those questions would go a long way to make the ending seem a bit more inevitable without giving away the twist. The thing with a twist is that when it's revealed a reader has to have like one of those flashbacks where they connect all the little hints and have that aha moment of realization that the thing was happening all along. Here it just whacks you over the head like a sledgehammer and you never see it coming. But besides that it's really well written.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




Tawsif says...


Thanks so much for the review. Glad you enjoyed it.
I was thinking about the point you mentioned, the twist coming out of nowhere. Is it too abrupt, you think?



HarryHardy says...


Your Welcome!!
Yaa the first bit shows such a loving and tender relationship then that twist is just straight out of nowhere. Like a complete 180. A couple of small hints in the first part would go a long way there.



Tawsif says...


What if I changed the ending, and made it less dark?



HarryHardy says...


If you made it sound like he was doing it to make his brother not be devastated by bad marks or something along those lines then it wouldn't be too abrupt.



Tawsif says...


Thanks.



HarryHardy says...


Your Welcome!!!



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Tue Jul 07, 2020 12:10 pm
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Hannah wrote a review...



Hi, there!
That was a twist ending I wasn't expecting!

I would like to comment on the piece without the ending and then on the piece with the ending.

First of all, I absolutely loved this moment here:

“How did you feel when you got it?” Hasan asks.

“Got what?”

“The result. When you saw you got marks like ninety-five, ninety-six, ninety-seven in all the subjects. How was that feeling?”

I look up at the ceiling. “I don’t know. Speechless, I guess. Pride was there. Definitely. I felt like the proudest person on earth. Especially when I looked at mom and dad and saw them so happy, it was satisfying, man!”

“Yeah. I remember all of it. It was a weekend, wasn’t it? Mom and dad didn’t go to work.”


I loved the tenderness here and felt like I could really relate to it. It felt like a very intimate moment between brothers. They seem so close I find myself wishing I could ask those kinds of questions to my sisters, and to get me viscerally involved in the story is really great.

However, that moment was especially refreshing to me because a lot about the dialogue previous to that felt like an author trying to explain characters, but having the characters do the work in kind of obvious ways. If you think about siblings, they don't sit around describing their character traits or the character traits of one another in private conversation. They might do that in front of other friends. In fact friends who are just getting closer might describe themselves in that kind of way to try to bond. But I feel siblings would already know these unspoken truths such as who is the studious one and who is not and would never have to vocalize them. I would suggest that you try to rework the opening to feel more natural. You know these facts about these characters -- you don't have to state them within the text for your reader to get to know them, too.

Now, as for the ending, it is especially chilling only when I reread my favorite part. How could this character have asked such a warm question if they were planning something else? Were they measuring their brother's reaction -- purposefully asking an emotional question to study how their sibling reacted? I wish that I could be clued into this dark side earlier on so I could watch all their attempts to interact with their brother while knowing something else was brewing underneath. When the reveal comes at the "end", I don't necessarily remember all the warm details from the beginning paragraphs, so I just have this moment of shock where my knowledge of the character changes. I want to have that insight as I'm learning about him, so I can feel like I'm in the know and weigh his actions in a different way. Maybe I would want this less if there were more story after this "ending" in this post, however!

Thank you so much for sharing this intriguing start. I hope my comments are helpful to you in some way! Let me know if you have any questions~

This review courtesy of
Image




Tawsif says...


Thanks a lot. To be honest, I didn%u2019t see that coming.
I think siblings can have that sort of conversation. You know, if you're not as confident as your brother, you can tell him "Look, I can't do the things you did, because I'm not like you." I read the dialogue at the beginning again after Reading your review and it still didn%u2019t seem unnatural to me.
Can you just read that part again and tell me how you feel now?



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Mon Jul 06, 2020 3:19 pm
XxDarkRosesxX says...






Tawsif says...


@XxDarkRosesxX, you probably wanted to comment here. Did something go wrong?





Just a glitch, sorry about that



Tawsif says...


It's alright.



Tawsif says...


It's alright.




Man is by nature a political animal.
— Aristotle