Monopoly: complete control of the entire supply of goods or of a service in a certain area or market.
When I was younger, I hated playing Monopoly with you. Your pristinely built hotels always struggled against each other for space on the game board. Game dollars and deed cards littered your side of the table, creating a messy mosaic of wealth. Every time we played, I ended up bankrupt and you owned everything.
You always wanted to keep the game going. Every time I declined your loans, you just gave me the money for free, like a grant. Your actions were compassionate, your eyes full of pity, and your smile genuine. You would say, “No problem, man! I’m older than you. I’m supposed to be better than you. Here, take some money and let’s keep playing,” followed by a wink and a wad of cash on my side of the table.
I hated it when you beat me at everything, big brother. You were the paragon of excellence. You were the epitome of morality. You were family to your best friends and a best friend to everyone in our family. You tyrannically controlled my emotions with your reign of kindness by making me happy when I was sad. You owned all of our parents’ love and joy, leaving me just the leftovers after they showered their kisses and praise on you. Still, I loved you even as I envied you.
When you left for college, you took your monopoly with you. Last time you came home for Thanksgiving, we played Monopoly again, only this time, you asked me for a loan. You never paid me back. I didn’t think about it much then. I just thought that college had made you rusty. Turns out, it did much more to the brother I once loved than I thought.
Now, by some cruel twist of fate or dramatic turnaround of character, you are in prison, with no “get out of jail free” card. Mom and Dad won’t tell me what exactly you did. They say “it would break your heart.” All I know is that you committed an unspeakable crime, and now your reputation is reduced to ashes, your monopoly reduced to a mound of rubble.
I am no longer oppressed by your success. Finally, I can compete in the market. I can start my own business without you casting a shadow over me. I don’t know how to begin, and I don’t know how this will end. But you know what, big brother? I do know that I won’t be asking you for a loan.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.