A woman discovers her possible twin in the back seat of her car
|She ran out of the office to the elevator: wait, wait, wait. The elevator doors opened: packed to the gills. She slid her briefcase between two people and followed it in. The doors closed.
The doors opened. Sandy charged out the front, clipped down the street in high heels, coat flailing behind her, to the parking garage. The elevator was on the fourth floor down; she was on street level. The stairs. She whipped open the door to the smell of urine and ran down. At the yellow door with "4" she paused to pull it open. Did she pick up that witness statement for tomorrow? She would have to read it tonight. She pulled the door and rushed through. Well, she could go in early tomorrow if she didn't.
Late, late, Sandy thought, I am always running late to pick up Brady: her eight-year-old precious son. She zapped the Mercedes door with the remote, threw the briefcase in the passenger seat, slammed the door and reached to start the car. "Hi Mom," a strange voice spoke up from the backseat. No, it sounded like Brady.
Sandy felt her heart give a huge pound. Stop. Wait a minute. Why would Brady be in the backseat? Did I forget to drop him off this morning? Oh my God, has he been in the car all day? No. She dropped him off this morning; he was all excited about soccer. "Pound" went her heart a second time. She looked in the rear view mirror.
"Hi, Sandy." A face remarkably familiar looked at her in the mirror. "Thought I'd pick Brady up and save you some time. The car happened to be unlocked, so we've been chatting."
Sandy barely swallowed, her mouth was so dry. She stared at the face. It was like the one in her bathroom mirror.
"Who are you?" Sandy choked on her words; they barely made it out as a whisper.
"Your evil twin." The face smiled at her. "Well, no, not really, although I am your twin. I realize this is a bit of a surprise. Mom didn't tell you?"
Sandy's mother died last year. "No." Sandy wracked her brain; she was an only child. "Mom never mentioned a twin."
"Ah well, as you can see, we do bear a resemblance. Turn around."
Sandy twisted in her seat. Looking back at her was herself in much worse shape. The woman's hair was long, loose and in disarray, not the tight bun Sandy wore. Deep lines creased around the woman's mouth and crow's feet etched out around her eyes. The woman wore a deep green sweatsuit. The color matched her eyes and Sandy's eyes. Brady sat next to her in the back seat.
"I'm sorry. You will have to leave now. I don't have a sister, much less a twin. You have no business kidnapping my son. I'm a lawyer. Leave now and we will let this go. Otherwise, I'm calling the police."
The woman laughed. "Sandy, how much more trouble do you think I could get into? I bounced from pillar to post in foster homes; I'm a drug addict; I've been a prostitute and now I want a little help from my sister. I could help you with Brady here. I've been watching him, and he seems like a fine boy. In fact, we've become quite the friends, haven't we Brady?"
Sandy's son smiled at her. "Mom, she's really nice, and she looks just like you. We've been playing after school, and she knows all kinds of cool games."
Sandy was out the door in a second, opening the back one. "Out! Get out!"
The woman rose out of the car. She stood face to face with Sandy.
Sandy looked into green eyes like hers and saw pain. Sandy pulled her emotions back. "What is your name?"
"Who is your mother?"
"Eleanor Rogers Buchanan."
"How old are you?"
"When is your birthday?"
"July 22, 1973."
"How did you find me?"
"I didn't. Brady found me. I was sleeping on a park bench, and he was waiting for you. He said I looked like his mother."
Sandy stared at the woman, Susan. Susan and Sandy were perfect names for twins.
"You researched me on the internet and made this up."
"Ha!" Susan barked. "I couldn't find me on the internet."
"Well," Sandy felt emotions tumbling, “I don't really know what to make of this. I do know I want you to stay away from my son."
"I understand." Susan looked relieved the confrontation was over. "Can we meet again?"
"Tomorrow. You know where I pick Brady up in the park by the school?"
"Yes. I'll be there." Susan turned to the parking garage stairs. Sandy noticed the ragged running shoes, pulled a $20 bill from her purse and came up behind.
"Here. Get a good meal."
"Heavens, Sandy. I could eat for a week on that. Thanks."
Sandy returned to the car.
"Brady, you OK?"
"Yeah, Mom. Are we gonna see her again?"
"I don't know, Brady. Listen, I don't want you in the park after school tomorrow, you understand? I'll pick you up by the front gate."
Sandy drove home, letting thoughts of Susan swirl in her head through dinner and put Brady to bed. At 9:00, she sat down with a glass of wine and picked up the phone.
"Hi Honey! How's the best lawyer in town?"
"Just peachy, Dad." Her father was always there for her. "Dad, the strangest thing happened today. A woman who looked like me said she was my twin sister. Isn't that weird? I don't have a twin sister, do I?" She half laughed as if it was surely funny.
Sandy could hear her heart beat between her ears. She reached for the wine. "Dad? You still there?" She took a gulp.
"Sandy, I better come over. Give me 20 minutes." The line went dead.
Sandy sat across from her father, he in the wing back chair, she on the sofa with her feet curled under her. She felt like a teenager again.
"Sandy, you did have a sister, a twin sister."
"What?" The word came from deep in her chest.
“Her name was Susan and she was very sickly."
"You didn't tell me? Why didn't you tell me? What happened to her?"
Her father held up his hands. "Sandy, this is hard. Let me talk."
Sandy sat back in the sofa feeling her stomach twist into a pretzel.
"Susan was very sick and never left the hospital. They told us she would not live out the week. In the middle of third night, Susan died, or so they told us."
"They told you?"
"Yes, they told us. Body and everything. As the years went by, it just didn't seem like something we needed to tell you."
"But she didn't die?"
"Thirteen years later, an FBI investigation revealed Susan and another baby were kidnapped. The hospital covered it up; they never found Susan or the other child.
“Of course, she was so sick we assumed she died. It was easier to believe, I guess. We considered telling you, but what good would it do? We didn't have any answers and you would only have questions.
"But you don't know if she died?"
"No." Her father stared past her. "I don't know."
"Sandy, be very careful. You know people impersonate dead people."
"Yeah, Dad, I know. If she didn't look so much like me!"
Her dad left, and Sandy finished her wine. She lay in bed staring at the ceiling fan seeing that face until sleep came.
After an agonizing day at work, Sandy drove by the school. No Brady. Screaming at herself for not reminding him to wait at the gate she sped over to the park. He was sitting on the regular bench by himself. She ran up.
"Brady? Where's Susan?"
"She was here?"
"She said it was better if she stayed away. Said you wouldn't want her in your life. Is that true, Mom? You don't want your own sister?"
Sandy looked at her son. Did she want her sister? She made a good living, her career was taking off, Brady was a great kid. Life was perfect.
She sat down on the bench. It hadn't always been that way. She'd done some marijuana herself, a little coke, to say nothing of a stupid marriage. Her dad had helped her get back on her feet. What would she have done without her dad?
A bag lady went by with a shopping cart.
"Excuse me. I'm looking for my sister; she looks just like me. Have you seen her?"
The dirty face revealed toothless grin. "Ah, my memory's not what it used to be."
Sandy opened her wallet and handed over the bills inside.
"Women's shelter, 16th and Washington."
"C'mon Brady." Sandy pulled her son to her feet. "I'm not sure yet if I want a sister, but she needs one and you need an aunt."