Drop #23: Not Her

Erica was in one of those large, multi-floor department stores that exclusively sell Christmas stuff. She only needed wrapping paper and shiny balls for the tree, but it was always fun to spend some time snooping around in there.

She’d been there ten minutes when she saw the guy: short beard, good build, understated style, and maybe a couple of years younger than her. He was studying the battery operated Santas and elves with keen concentration and she watched him with a similar focus. He was one hundred percent delicious. It was seldom she saw a guy so utterly her type; but of course, he would be many other girls’ type too, and was totally out of her league. Not that it mattered, practically.

Still, she followed him as he continued browsing. He picked up some tinsel, a small lamp in the shape of a gnome’s home, a bag of tea lights to light it up with, and a gingerbread train, looking very handsome as he did so. Then he flipped through Christmas cards for a couple of minutes, two of which made him smile, and picked up three packets of Christmas candy.

Finally, though, the inevitable happened: he met up with the girlfriend, or was it the wife? Not that it mattered, rationally.

Quite forgetting her own shopping needs, Erica kept tailing them, no longer intrigued only by the gorgeous man, but by the woman too. Something about her was disconcertingly familiar. And as she tracked them, sneaking closer all the while for better looks, Erica was left with no doubt: this woman was her duplicate: her doppelganger. It was eerie. Age, weight, height, hair, skin color, posture, sense of style, voice all seemed identical. And when the handsome brute played the clown, her laugh was an exact replica too: frothy up front, a snort in the middle leading into a couple of loud guffaws, and ending with a validating sigh.

At the large Christmas tree section, Erica realized she had wandered dangerously close to the couple, who certainly weren’t averse to public displays of affection. Still, though they were distracted by one another, and Erica kept adjusting her position to stay hidden behind joyous displays and boxes of glee, she feared being found out. It’s one thing to see one’s duplicate, but quite another to have to interact with her, and surely, even a glimpse would bring the woman in to investigate further. No, she had to avoid such a meeting – avoid a tear in the space-time continuum. She couldn’t face this other self, and moreover, she couldn’t face him. He might overwhelm her, embarrass her.

So she took a last longing look at the man, and spiteful glance at the woman, and snuck out of the massive shop with no balls or wrapping paper. And all the way home she asked herself the same question, the only one that mattered: how could she have settled for James, taken his hand, borne him a son, agreed to forever share his bed, his belly, his receding hairline, his irksome habits, and utter mediocrity, while an identical woman had ended up with him?

No, it wouldn’t be a merry Christmas. It could not possibly be.

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

3 Responses to Drop #23: Not Her

  1. Another good piece with a nice finale. I like a sharp ending.

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