First at Last

Silence Can Indeed be Golden

She was first at being born, but that was the last time her sister let her be first at anything.  Felicity was born at 04:38:12 after a long labour, and her twin Fiona gushed out only seconds later.  While Felicity was still gasping for her first breath, Fiona began to wail.

The competition was on.

Felicity was almost the first to hold her head up, smile, roll over, take solid foods.  Fiona seemed to sense when Felicity was on the verge of an infant breakthrough, and eclipsed her each time.

Fiona showed no inclination for crawling, but when Felicity got up on her hands and knees and rocked back and forth, Fiona quickly scrambled to her hands and knees and propelled herself into a forward crawl.  Felicity pulled herself up to stand, and Fiona pulled herself up to walk.  Felicity almost ran, but Fiona pushed her over and ran first.

In school the twins sat side-by-side in every class.  If Felicity began to raise her hand to answer a teacher’s question, Fiona’s hand shot up and got called on first.  Felicity might study hard and get 99% on a test, but Fiona would study harder and get 100.

Whenever awards were handed out for scholastic or athletic ability, if Felicity got Bronze, Fiona got Silver.  And if Felicity got Silver, Fiona got Gold.  Asked why she never seemed to win Gold, Felicity shrugged and said nothing.

Both sisters graduated from the same prestigious university on the east coast (Felicity with “magna cum laude” honours, Fiona with “summa cum laude”.)  Both took jobs in distinguished Wall Street firms, Fiona at a slightly higher salary and with a slightly larger corner office.

Felicity almost broke the pecking order tradition when she began dating Gordon, a man from a well-established family made rich with mining concerns.  But Fiona restored order by quickly initiating a relationship with Gordon’s elder brother—and heir to their father’s fortune— Simon.

After their respective engagements (Fiona’s was announced first), Felicity proposed they have a double wedding, and Fiona agreed providing her and Simon’s vows were recited first, and their marriage solemnized first.  Felicity said nothing, as usual. Simon and Gordon’s parents agreed to bankroll the whole event, from swank ceremony through to extravagant honeymoon.

Alas, only a few weeks before the wedding, Simon’s private jet went missing enroute to Rio de Janeiro.  It was many days before the wreckage was located.  The bodies of Simon, the pilot, and the cabin crew were never recovered.

Naturally, Felicity and Gordon halted the wedding plans.  It took months to settle Simon’s affairs and the lack of a body made everything more complicated.  Fiona was devastated to lose her fiancé, and she walked around in a fog of disbelief.

Felicity was worried about Fiona, but she was worried about Gordon, too.  Fiona had lost a fiancé, but Gordon had lost a brother.  Felicity and Gordon agreed to delay their own wedding until the following year.

Felicity stayed in New York while Gordon spent increasing amounts of time at his family’s palatial Adirondack “cottage” where he and Simon had spent many carefree holidays in their youth.  When he was in New York, he and Felicity got together for dinner or a quiet evening, and he often spent the night.  He never invited her to go to the cottage with him, and she didn’t press the matter.

Felicity phoned Fiona often, but she seldom answered.  Felicity knew Fiona had taken a leave from work, but she seemed to be avoiding Felicity.

Felicity was taken quite by surprise when, shortly after Gordon had visited her in late November, he texted her to announce he was breaking off their engagement. Felicity was taken with slightly less surprise when Fiona phoned her, out of the blue, to announce her own engagement—to Gordon.  Gordon was now his father’s heir, and Fiona was getting the Gold once again.

Gordon’s parents just raised their eyebrows at Fiona’s transfer of affections.  Family is still family.

Felicity said nothing to either Fiona or Gordon about their upcoming nuptials.  She said nothing about anything.  She saw neither of them in the months leading up to their wedding the following June.

Felicity was invited to the wedding, and it was Fiona’s turn to be surprised.  Felicity was heavily pregnant, yet she attended the wedding alone.  In the receiving line after the ceremony, Fiona, feigning interest, asked Felicity how far along she was.

“Eight and a half months,” said Felicity.  Fiona smiled tightly, while Gordon fidgeted.

When the photographer grouped family members together for photos with the happy couple, Fiona reluctantly agreed to let Felicity be included.  With her bulging mommy tummy, Felicity looked like a whale, but she did have an elegant dress on.  The photographer positioned Felicity so that her tummy was straight on to the camera, rendering her bulging profile less obvious.

It wasn’t until the photo proofs were produced that anyone realized the flash from the camera had revealed reflective tape fastened to Felicity’s belly underneath her dress.

The tape was arranged to form letters, and Felicity’s bulging belly was labelled, “Gord’s”.

Before Gordon and Fiona returned from their lavish honeymoon, Gordon’s parents arranged an urgent consultation with the family’s solicitors.

A few weeks and one DNA test later, the bulk of Gordon’s family fortune was irrevocably willed to Gordon’s first-born son, Felix.

It was the only time Fiona didn’t get the Gold.