This person was not me. He was a fake, a mockery of who I am. Then why does it hurt?
I am doing what I do when I am out and about, watching people. They are fascinating to me, how they can care so much and so little about their lives, things that don’t matter and things that should. So imagine my surprise when I see a person who makes me look twice. Six times, in fact, because I can’t believe my eyes.
I could swear, if I was a little less sane, that I was walking over there by the game store. The hair is the same colour, length, and style of my own, those eyes that unique shade of cinnamon brown that redden in the fluorescents, framed by thin plastic frames, skin pale and transparent, long sleeves, jeans, boots, and a hat. It was me, to the extreme. What didn’t belong to me was obvious on my doppelganger.
A smile as bright as the sun being given as friends latched onto his arms and pulled him along, joy in his features and a sense of overall wellbeing. They were moving out of my vision, so I got up and threw away my tray of uneaten food to follow.
I will tell you following your double is a rather odd feeling. They went into a video game store and argued over which titles were the best. Then the candy store, some clothing stores, electronic stores... Places I always go alone and spend very little time in. Places that if I had friends, would be much more fun.
My doppelganger was always laughing. Always smiling, joking, teasing, touching. Me, yet not me. I’m the person who would rather stay home alone than go to a movie with friends. I never call, I never visit. A guest had not crossed my threshold in over six months, and all my friends got tired of me. Jealousy sparked in my chest as the other was hugged tightly for buying a small keychain ornament for a friend.
Did being with others matter this much? Did it really make the difference? I am happy now, aren’t I?
I don’t need people. I always tell myself this. People just cause problems, make things difficult. I can’t do what I want if I have to work around other people. I couldn’t make them happy, so I stopped trying. But this… fake was actually showing such happiness from all the things I hate.
The group broke up shortly after, my doppelganger saying he had a few more things to do before heading home. Giving his lover a quick kiss goodbye (and in public! That really got to me.) he watched them go, and I watched him watch them go. When he turned around and met my eyes, I froze.
He came towards me, and I couldn’t think. My fake, my double, was grabbing my arm and dragging me away, dragging me towards the food court again. Where this all started.
He pushed me into a booth, and then left. I thought of running, of hiding, of avoiding whatever was coming, but I couldn’t move. I wasn’t able to. It was like I was no longer in control, that I had to do what this other wanted me to. I hated it.
A plate was pushed in front of me, and I looked up to see the other me taking a seat with an identical plate. Beef and broccoli sat in front of us, a side of Thai noodles and fried rice complimenting the meal. My favourite, his favourite. He set a pair of chopsticks next to the plate, and I noticed there wasn’t a fork. He knew I never used one.
“You are angry,” he tells me, his voice a perfect mockery of my own. I glare at him, sneering slightly as I snap back my response.
“You are a fake!” I hiss, and he just raises an eyebrow in amusement. “You might look like me, talk like me, dress like me, but you are not me!”
“I could be,” he tells me, and I take a sudden breath, gasping in fear. “I could easily be you, if you would stop hiding from the world. The only thing stopping me and you from being us is your fear.”
“I'm not afraid!” I say, my voice shaking. This fake was treading towards very large do not enter signs in my mind. Places I refused to touch since… No!
“He hurt you, he hurt you badly. You need to get help, you need to talk about it, grow from this.”
“I can’t get it back,” I whisper, and his hand closes over mine. His so familiar hands. Which have the same scars mine do.
“You can’t, but you can get so much more as well. It’s only as bad as you make it to be.”
As my eyes open to the light in my bedroom, I wonder what it would be like to be him. To become him. To try to live again. If I could, would it be worth it, to have the smile my other did?
I pick up my phone and dial a number that I haven’t called in six months.
“Hi, is this Rick?”
“Mike! Haven’t heard from you in forever, you okay man?”
“I will be,” I tell him softly, smiling.