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Mother: A Doppleganger Serial Novella (Part 3)


Part 3

I had to stop and take a break while telling you my story. I get tired very quickly now and what used to be my body, the solidity of it, is more like a fog. I have become the fog that you’d see on a particularly cold and cloudy day. How does a human being become this? An intangible object, an insubstantial remainder of what used to be. I can still hear and her song reaches me, even in this state. A song from the 1930’s. A song that became her calling card of sorts. A song I hear whenever she is near, always followed by a giggle.

“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”

Kevin and I had started to see more of each other. It’s been more than six months since we had gone out to that first dinner. The dinner when I saw the strange girl in the bathroom. I liked Kevin, but I was unsure of what I really wanted out of the relationship. I tried to keep my personal life out of the office. I was friendly with some of the other women who worked in the office and they would always ask me about my relationship with him. I never gave a straight answer. I suppose they thought that I was lucky to be dating a young, good looking doctor.

Kevin had a lot of personal issues and habits that I didn’t care for. He had a very short temper and wasn’t very tolerant of my pets. Kevin sometimes helped me with bills whenever I was short on money, and I was grateful for his help. However, he was very critical of me and would often tell me what to do and how to do it. It was offensive, and I thought that his elitist views were not things that I looked for in a partner. I didn’t like the way he looked down on people that were homeless or less fortunate. There was a cruelty to him that I didn’t like. He was not a kind person.

Kevin didn’t like to celebrate holidays and I thought that since he was a child that was always being moved from place to place, he may not have good memories of celebrations, family and gifts. Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend that year and I have to admit that I was excited. This was the first Valentine’s Day that I actually had someone special to celebrate with since my divorce. Kevin didn’t want to celebrate or even talk about Valentine’s Day when I brought it up. The day came and went. He never even gave me a card.

I felt ignored and hurt and I suppose he picked up on how I felt because I made excuses a day later, when he wanted to have dinner at my apartment. A couple of days later, I found a white rose and a card taped to my apartment door as I was leaving for work.

I called to thank Kevin during my lunch break, he was not at the office that day. The gifts he left at my door, didn’t mean much at that point. They were an after thought, not sincere gestures. A woman needs to feel special at times, and he didn’t make me feel like I mattered.

A couple of months after the Valentine’s Day disaster, Kevin called me late one night. He said that he wanted to tell me about something that had happened, but he didn’t know how to approach the subject. I’m not a person that likes to beat around the bush when it comes to serious talks. I told him to come by my apartment after work.

I had some errands to run the next day, and I thought I would do them during my lunch hour. One of the errands was several blocks away from the office and I decided to take the subway there and back. I never liked the subway. It is stuffy even on the coldest days, but what always got to me were the tunnels. The dark tunnels invoked a feeling of being trapped in me and even if the train was on an outside rail, it would eventually return to a tunnel. The dirty stations and hard seats didn’t add much comfort either.

I stood waiting for my train and I was relieved to see its bright lights in the tunnel. It was arriving earlier than I thought it would and that meant that I wouldn’t have to be worried about getting back to the office on time. It was after one in the afternoon and most of the riders were teens that are either going home from school or going somewhere else after skipping for the day.

The train pulled into the station and the doors opened. No one stepped out of the train and I walked in quickly. I always have a fear of the doors closing on my jacket or purse, a childhood fear that stayed with me in adulthood. There was about four other people in the train cart that I was in. Just a couple of older ladies talking to each other, a young college age young man, busy with his phone, and a middle aged man that was reading a newspaper. My destination was only a couple of stops away, but the train stalled at the first stop it made. The doors opened and a young girl stepped in. She wore a dark coat with a hood and a scarf that covered most of her face. I wasn’t paying much attention to her, I was more anxious about trying to get back to the office on time.

The train finally started moving again and I sighed in relief and a bit of frustration. Living in a city like New York sometimes makes a person experience anxiety that is hard to explain. When the train pulled into my stop, I was already standing by the doors, so I can get out fast. Again, the fear of the closing doors.

As the doors opened, I noticed that the girl with the dark coat was getting off as well. I stepped out onto the platform, and no one else seemed to be waiting for a train. The platform was desolate. As I made my way to the stairs that lead to the street, I heard a couple of steps behind me and I turned around to find that the girl in the black coat was approaching me. She had taken off her hood and scarf and she was smiling at me. She was a teenage girl, no more than 16 or 17 years old and exactly my height. Her face was my face, only a little younger, the face that I had when I was her age.

I suddenly felt the same way I did, first at the park and then at the restaurant bathroom. I couldn’t move and couldn’t speak. Except this time, I heard far away music. Music in a New York City subway station is not strange, but it was the kind of music that caught my attention.

A 1930’s song by Bing Crosby that I’ve heard many times throughout my life.

“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 started out like a far away sound and then it got closer, but it still had a distant, tinny quality. Who would be listening to this old song here in the subway? The song started to fade and I realized that I was no longer on the subway platform, I was now upstairs on the street. I didn’t know how I got here because I had no recollection of climbing the stairs at all. What I remembered was the strange girl who was my double standing near me on the subway platform and the old song.

I was late getting back to the office, but no one seemed to notice. I was glad no one said anything about my lateness, but that song, that old time Bing Crosby song, kept running through my mind throughout the day. Thoughts of the teen girl with my face, kept running through my mind, too. The day was finally over, but there was nothing to look forward to, except Kevin wanting to come over to my apartment to talk. A feeling of dread washed over me, but I didn't know why?

By the time I arrived at home, it was already getting dark. Kevin was waiting for me on the front steps. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days. I didn’t mention how bad he looked and I invited him in. My two cats always greeted me at the door and that night was no different. They also wanted to greet Kevin. He didn’t notice that I saw him use his foot to push them away from him and that he pushed them away with more force than necessary. I was getting fed up with his dislike of my pets.

I told him to sit on the couch while I got out of my work clothes. I went into the bedroom and changed into some jeans, a sweatshirt and woolen socks. I got back to the living room and saw that Kevin had taken some paper towels and spread them out on the sofa to sit on. “Why did you do that?”, I asked Kevin while pointing at the paper towels.

“Oh, it’s just that the cats leave fur and dander and I didn’t want it to get on me.”, he said with a small laugh.

I looked at him for a second and shook my head, saying, “I really don’t like how you treat the cats, they’re important to me and I can’t be with someone who doesn’t like them.”

“Well, I have something more important to talk to you about and I need for you to be understanding”, he replied.

“Go ahead, talk, what’s going on?”

Kevin cleared his throat and began, “Well, a couple of months ago, a girl that I was seeing right before we began dating came by my apartment. It was clear that she’s been drinking and she was upset about something. Anyway, one thing led to another and we had sex. She’s pregnant and I feel that I should stand by her with whatever she wants to do with the pregnancy. I think we need to take a break, just till I figure out what to do.”

I didn’t realize that I was crying till I felt the tears falling on my hands. I stood up and walked to the front door. I opened the door and turned to Kevin, “Get out! I always gave you the benefit of the doubt, no matter what you said or did, I made excuses for you! Go figure out what you want to do with your life, but know this, I won’t be in it! You’re a fucking asshole! GET OUT!”

Kevin walked out to the front step, his head down, and then he turned and tried to speak to me, “Lori, please, just let me explain…..”

I was not interested in any explanation, I just wanted him out of my sight. I slammed the door with him still talking and went to the sofa. I grabbed the paper towels that he had spread out to sit on, crumbling them in my hand and screamed, “FUCK! I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!”.

I went back to the bedroom and laid down on my bed. I felt nothing nside. I was numb and alone. My two cats jumped up on the bed and sat down together near me. I scratched their ears. I thought I heard that Bing Crosby song as I fell asleep.

© 2021 Johanna Elattar

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