It started when they were ten. Rose was the reigning class champion and Leslie, freshly transferred from out of town, beat her by two marks. Rose smouldered her way through Standard 5 and at the end of the year, beat Leslie by ten marks. Leslie took it with a faint grin and reluctant grace. In Standard Six, they tied. Neither was happy.
All the way through secondary school, their marks climbed neck to neck, each fighting not only for the highest scores, but as the years progressed, also for the highest posts. When Rose was elected President of the Tennis Club, Leslie merely smirked, secure as House Captain of Pykett. When Rose became Head Librarian as well, Leslie grimaced that he was only the Assistant Head Prefect.
“Get on with it,” their friends would say. “When’s Anne going to marry Gilbert?” they would taunt.
“Never!” was their immediate reply, the only thing they could ever agree on.
By a freak coincidence, both were accepted into the same university for the same course and their rivalry continued.
“Aren’t you ever going to give up?” Leslie stormed when she beat him by another mark in Economics.
“Only when you do,” Rose retorted, angry at losing to him in Finance.
It ended rather abruptly when they were twenty-five and had landed jobs in the same firm. Rose looked up at Leslie with tears in her eyes, and said “I’m frightened, Leslie.”
He held her hands in his and replied, “So am I.”
And they laid their war at rest.
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