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Mother: A Doppelganger Serial Novella (Part 4)

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Part 4

The word spread about my break up with Kevin. Everyone wanted to know what happened and why were we avoiding each other at the office? As usual, I kept my mouth shut. The last thing that I wanted was to feed the rumor mill and people will always make up their own stories whether, I tell them anything or not. It was very uncomfortable to be sharing the same space with Kevin, although, I tried to remember that he was not in the office more than one or two days during the week.

After the encounter with the strange girl on the subway, I started to pay more attention to the people around me. I found myself looking at people on the street, on public transportation, and in stores. Will I see her again? Will she be older than she was in the subway?, I asked myself. I tried to be logical and told myself that there is no possible way that the toddler, preteen, and teen girl are all one person. People simply did not age this quick and maybe a person can have many doubles that are all different ages, but have the same facial features. Anything is possible, right?

It was a chilly Friday evening as I stood at the bus stop. I had just finished shopping at the supermarket near my work and I was very tired. The bus was taking longer than usual and the wait was making me anxious. I just wanted to get home, maybe watch a little TV and go to bed. I was glad that it was finally the weekend, and I was looking forward to spending most of it at home. A car pulled up near where I stood waiting for the bus, it was Kevin.

“Lori! Hey, get in, I’ll take you home”, he said.
“No, thanks, I’m good”, I replied while wishing that he would just drive away.
“Come on, Lori, it’s cold out here”, Kevin insisted.
“I said, I’m fine, I want to take the bus! Just go away!!”, I realized that I had raised my voice and looked around me to see if anyone was looking at us. In true New York fashion, no one was.
“Alright, alright, I’m going. I just wanted to talk to you”, he answered with a condescending tone.

Kevin drove off and I was relieved that he left. The last thing I wanted to do was talk about anything with him. The bus finally arrived and I got on. I was home a half hour later and Kevin’s car was in the driveway. I ignored him and climbed up the few steps to my apartment. Kevin got out of his car and followed me. I let out a sigh of frustration as I turned and said,

“I asked you to leave me alone. We have nothing to discuss and I just want to have a quiet night without any negativity.”
“I’m not here to make you feel bad, I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to have lunch tomorrow? That place that you like just opened their garden area for dining and I thought…..”, I raised my hand and he stopped talking.
“I want nothing to do with you, Kevin. I don’t want to have lunch with you and I would appreciate it if our interactions can be just at the office and related to work only. Have a good night.”, I said as I unlocked my front door.

Kevin opened his mouth to talk again, but I was already in the apartment and closing the door on him. I heard him walk away and pull out of the driveway, tires screeching as he drove off.

I felt good on Monday morning as I walked into the office. My weekend was quiet and very relaxing. I spent it reading, watching TV, and playing with my cats. I had bought them some toys at the supermarket and I loved to watch them have fun with the little catnip mice and feather toys. When they have new toys, the two of them become just like playful kittens and it made me smile to see them so happy.

I was a few minutes early getting to work, and I stopped at the ladies’ room to check my make up. Tammy, a woman that worked for the doctor at his other office and sometimes came in to do some insurance paperwork, was in the bathroom brushing her hair. She turned and gave me a surprised look.

Oh, Lori, I didn’t think you were going to be here today. I thought you’d be with Kevin.”, she said.
“What do you mean? Why would I be with Kevin when it’s a work day?”, I asked her.
“Kevin was in a terrible car accident on Friday night, I thought you were going to be with him at the hospital. Don’t tell me you didn’t know. I thought you two were dating.”, Tammy said with a confused look on her face.
“No, we’re not seeing each other anymore, how did the accident happen?”, I asked.
“All I heard was that he lost control of the car and he’s now on life support. They say that he’s in pretty bad shape.”, She said as she took one last look at herself in the mirror.

I thanked Tammy as she headed back to the office. I stood there for a few minutes before I left the ladies’ room. I didn’t think much of Kevin as a person, but I still felt empathy for him. Whatever he may be, he’s still a human being and he’s badly hurt. He may not make it and what kind of person would I be if I didn’t feel some compassion for him. I wondered what happened that caused him to lose control of the car. Was he drinking? Could the accident have been prevented if I had allowed him to come in and talk for a while?

No, I thought, I have nothing to do with his accident. He was probably not paying attention to the road or he may have swerved to avoid hitting something and lost control. I decided to find out which hospital Kevin was taken to and to visit him after work.

By the time, I got to the hospital to visit Kevin, I was too late. He had passed away sometime in the morning. I was shocked and I genuinely felt saddened by his death. Every person is born, only to someday die. That is just a fact of life, but death always comes as a surprise. It makes you stop and think about your own life. You start to take stock of your decisions, losses, gains, and what you will do differently from then on. A life can be over in a matter of seconds. A disease, a bad decision, anything can end a life and regret sets in for the living. I was not regretful that I ended my relationship with Kevin, I just felt bad that the last time I saw him, it wasn’t on good terms.

On the morning of Kevin’s funeral, the doctor I worked for decided to close the office for the day. He wanted to give everyone a chance to pay their respects and time to mourn. I arrived at the funeral home early. I needed a few minutes by myself before everyone else showed up. After the service, everyone went to the cemetery for the burial. I stood apart from everyone there. I never liked being upfront at funerals. It was too hard for me to look at the casket. The day was rainy, but not really cold. I found myself looking around me at the surrounding headstones and reading them. All of these people lived, loved, cried, and laughed. They were all somebody’s child, even if they never knew who their parents were. There was a moment in time, when they all were important to someone.

As I was lost in my reverie, I didn’t realize that the grave side service was over. I had brought some flowers for Kevin and as I placed the flowers on the casket, I heard the music. At first, it was far away and then it got closer.

“Did you ever see a dream walking? Well, I did
Did you ever hear a dream talking? Well, I did
Did you ever have a dream thrill you with, "Will you be mine?"
Oh, it's so grand and it's too, too divine”

I heard the giggle that always followed and I started to frantically look around me. I have only heard the song a couple of times before. The first time was on the subway platform, but I started to associate the song with my strange double. I knew that she was here somewhere, I just couldn’t see her. It was now early afternoon as I left through the cemetery gates. I still haven’t spotted the girl, but the music continued.

The next couple of months were quiet. I didn’t hear the music nor saw the girl, but I was always on my guard. I had a feeling that she wasn’t too far away and that I would be seeing her again soon. But, how old is going to be this time? And where am I going to see her? I decided that I had to have a break and my vacation time was available. I took my two weeks, but I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home, I read, watched a lot of movies, and ate junk. I thought about my mother who was getting on and not in the best health. I called her often, but I hadn’t visited her for quiet a while even though we lived in the same city.

Mother’s Day was coming up and my mom wanted me to come over to her apartment for dinner, even though I wanted to take her out to a restaurant. She was not feeling well again and didn’t feel like going out. I wanted to do whatever was comfortable for her and I bought her some flowers and the dark chocolate covered coconut that she loved. The weather was warm. Spring time in New York was not my favorite season. Just as I think that autumn is a time of renewal, I think that spring is the opposite. I know people would definitely disagree with me on that, but I never liked spring time. It always felt like a forced kind of cheerful, not a true feeling of happiness.

It was late afternoon when I arrived at my mother’s apartment. My mother greeted me at the door and was very happy to see me. I was happy to see her, too, and I gave her gifts. She went to the kitchen to place the flowers in water and I followed her.
“It’s good to see you, Mom. I’m sorry I haven’t visited as much as I wanted to. You know how it is, work, life.”, I said as I helped her carry plates of food to the dining room after she placed the flowers in a vase that she placed in the living room.
“I know, Lori, but you’re here now. I made your favorite pasta with meat sauce.”, she said as she smiled at me.
“Oh, my favorite! No one can make that dish like you, Mom!”, I said excitedly.

My mother and I sat down to dinner. We talked about my mother’s latest trip to the doctor and the new medications that she was on. My mother suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure, among other conditions. The fact that my mother was sick and may not live another five years, upset me greatly. She was the only family that I had and without her, I would be truly alone on this earth. I didn’t want her to suffer, but I also didn’t want her to leave me, either. I tried to push those thoughts out of my mind and to just enjoy dinner and my mother’s company. We were done eating when my mom surprised me with what she said next.

“Lori, were you at the farmer’s market last Saturday? I thought I saw you and I called out your name.”, she said.
“No, Mom, I usually go to the farmer’s market near work, it’s closer to my apartment.”, I answered, feeling suddenly uneasy.
“Well, I called your name and I swear, I thought you turned around and waved at me. Maybe it was a girl that looked like you. Amazing resemblance, though.”, she said as we started to clear the table. I just smiled and nodded. I tried not to think the obvious, did my mother see my double?. I pushed the thought out of my mind. Of course, she didn't! She probably just saw someone that looked similar, that's all!

I left my mother’s apartment later than I wanted to and she insisted on calling a cab for me because she didn't want me to take the subway home at a late hour. I told her that I will try to visit more often and that I was really happy that I got to spend Mother’s Day with her. She hugged me and gave me some of the pasta to take home with me. The cab pulled up in front of my mom's apartment building and she insisted on seeing me off. I told my mother that I loved her and I got into the cab with my pasta.

I sat in the back of the cab, it was dark and I looked out the window at a starry night. The cab driver asked if it would be alright if he listened to some music, I told it would be great if he did. He joked that he liked old time music, “I mean really old.”, he joked. I said that I liked that kind of music, sometimes. He smiled at me in the rear view mirror and turned the music on.

“Did you ever see a dream walking? Well, I did
Did you ever hear a dream talking? Well, I did
Did you ever have a dream thrill you with, "Will you be mine?"
Oh, it's so grand and it's too, too divine”

It was her song! I told myself to stop being paranoid, that it's just a song that the cab driver liked. He said that he liked old time music and this is an old time song, right?
This is nothing more than just a coincidence! I felt my skin break out in a cold sweat and a feeling of dread entered my heart.
She's near......I hear the distant sound of a giggle.

© 2021 Johanna Elattar

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