It never went so far as putting up papers and assignments on the fridge, as if they were still children being praised by their parents. It didn’t even get so bad that Robyn would spam her achievements all over social media. She wasn’t exactly one for rubbing her accomplishments in others’ faces.
But the way she carried herself, her choice of words, even the slight change in the upward tilt of her mouth, it was obvious she had done something worthy of glorification. She’d aced that test, breezed through a paper, got top marks on a project she’d toiled away on for hours, days.
Never rude–Robyn wasn’t that bad. But her mannerisms changed just enough where others who hadn’t done as well might feel a little resentment. Cheated. Of course Robyn was still nice, kind to her classmates and coworkers up on her pedestal. But sometimes that kindness felt like salt in the wound.
Dante had only noticed it a little. It’s not like he was in much of the same classes as Robyn, seeing as they were in different years and majors. But her successes were little highs she would live off of, and that spring in her step and joy at being good at what she was doing were contagious.
He was happy for her. He didn’t even think of others not feeling the same.
“Robyn’s sin would probably be pride,” Tasha mused, slouched in a dining room chair as she sifted through papers.
“Why do you say that?” Dante asked, glancing around the screen of his laptop. He’d stopped over at the girls’ apartment to hang out. Robyn was in the shower cleaning up, and she usually took her time with those. So Dante and Tasha had been sitting and chatting as they waited for her.
She sighed, setting the papers down on the table–she must be grading for her class she was teaching. Tasha was aiming to be a math teacher, and she and Robyn were good companions as teachers-in-training.
“It’s… tough,” she said, thinking over her words carefully, not wanting to offend but also wanting to be honest, “when your best friend is a rival. And I don’t think she does it on purpose, but she–she has this way of being so… smug about doing well in class and stuff.” Tasha turned to Dante and gestured helplessly at him. “You’re with her a lot–you’ve noticed, right?”
And he had. A little. Not enough to make him feel inadequate, as Tasha seemed to. Dante quirked his mouth, softened his eyes to show he sympathized.
“I love the crap out of her,” Tasha continued, shifting her eyes away and back to the papers she was grading. “It’s just hard seeing and living with the one that’s better than you, and that they know it, too.”
Even after leaving for his own apartment later that night, Dante thought on Tasha’s words. He knew Robyn was competitive, having fought for a place in her family and at the top of her class from nearly day one. As someone who wasn’t interested in competing with others and just striving to do his best, Dante had trouble understanding that aspect of wanting to “be the best.”
But that drive to do better made Robyn who she was–strong, ambitious, dedicated. Prideful. Whether she realized it or not.
Dante knew how hard she worked–she was justified to a little big-headed-ness for all her effort. And she didn’t go overboard. That had to count for something.
He was proud of her. That’s all he really needed to be happy for her–her own happiness.